Chile’s president, Sebastian Pinera, arrives in London on Monday 18 October in his first overseas trip since the “miracle” rescue of the 33 miners, trapped underground at the San Jose mine since August.
Pinera is said to be bringing rocks from the now-closed mine, and will doubtless be feted by the media – although a handful of protestors will try conveying some brickbats of their own.
Dissenting voices, criticising Chile’s far-from-spotless record on mine safety, and the repressive nature of its rightwing, pro-capitalist, coalition government, have largely been ignored – with only a few exceptions. One of these belongs to John Pilger who is among the most discerning and radical of senior British commentators. Pilger deplores the Chilean authorities’ ruthless – and largely unreported – war on indigenous Mapuche communities, desperately trying to defend their territories against logging companies. Pilger also points out that Pinera himself is “a billionaire who controls a slice of the mining, energy and retail industries”.
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Chilean government reaches agreement on controversial mining tax
Chile’s government has reached an agreement with opposition lawmakers on a divisive bill that would hike taxes on miners operating in the world’s top copper producer, Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said. Chile’s mining sector includes private multinationals BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Xstrata in addition to state copper giant Codelco.