Tens of thousands of women employed as seasonal workers in rural areas of Chile suffer high levels of poverty and poor working conditions, even though their labour generates huge profits for agricultural exporters.
In 2013, Chile’s agro-exports amounted to nearly 11.6 billion dollars. But most seasonal workers earned less than the minimum monthly wage of 380 dollars a month.
Chile is ranked by international consultants as one of the world’s 25 fastest-growing countries and the second-fastest in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which it joined in 2010 to become the only Latin American member along with Mexico.
And according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), it is the country with the lowest proportion of informal labour in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Nevertheless, there are still casual and seasonal workers employed in precarious conditions, without basic labour rights.
“In Chile there is a large number of workers, and women in particular, suffering precarious working conditions characterised by low wages, a lack of job stability and a lack of legal protections because they are subcontracted or outsourced, etc,” the minister of the National Women’s Service (SERNAM) Claudia Pascual acknowledged.
And the situation is especially bad for women from poor urban neighbourhoods or rural areas, the minister told IPS.
“It’s not the same thing to be a poor woman, a Mapuche, Aymara or Quechua [indigenous] woman, a rural woman, as it is to be a professional,” Pascual added.
The amount of work done by seasonal workers skyrocketed in the 1980s when fruit plantations and exports grew exponentially in Chile.
Paul Nunn, the WHO’s TB coordinator, says that these deadly strains have cropped up in certain European countries, too, though the reports have yet to be published. “If the health system of the world fails, the highly resistant strains will replace the old,” he adds. “We’ll see a worsening of the situation if nothing is done.” On the other hand, it may be only when the resistant strains become a major problem in rich countries that the profit-seeking pharmaceutical industry will take notice and pour real money into the development of potent new treatments.
Without effective drugs to combat the most resistant strains, doctors may have to revert to remedies from an earlier era. Udwadia recalls his first patient with untreatable TB. Twenty-six years old, she had spent the last five years trying a variety of anti-TB drugs, all of which had failed. As a last resort, she underwent a pneumonectomy, a high-risk medical procedure to remove a lung. The woman later died of complications from the surgery. The procedure had not been used on tuberculosis patients since the introduction of antibiotic treatments six decades ago.
For a whole year, a Chilean artist using the name Fried Potatoes (Papas Fritas) planned his revenge. Saying he was collecting material for an art project, the 31-year-old visual artist sneaked into a vault at a notorious private, run-for-profit university and quietly removed tuition contracts.
Fried Potatoes – whose real name is Francisco Tapia – then burned the documents, rendering it nearly impossible for the Universidad del Mar to call in its debt – which he claimed was worth as much as $500m (£297m). “It’s over. You are all free of debt,” he said in a five-minute video released earlier this month. Speaking to former students, he added: “You don’t have to pay a penny.”
Tapia’s move is just the most radical of a three-year campaign by students and children to demand free, improved public education. With monthly marches– and four former student leaders elected to parliament – the students have built a potent citizen’s movement rarely seen in post-Pinochet Chile.
This week, they claimed their biggest victory so far when the president, Michelle Bachelet, outlined a multibillion-dollar package of educational reforms and invesment. “Chile needs and the people have clamoured for this reform, which must transform quality education into a right,” Bachelet said at a bill-signing ceremony. Her proposals include an end to state subsidies to for-profit universities and schools, and – potentially – the introduction of free university education for all. While Bachelet spoke, students outside the congressional hall scattered ashes from the burned Universidad del Mar documents in symbolic protest against for-profit educational scams.
The Guinean government has announced three fresh, new cases of Ebola fever two of which were discovered in Telimele in Lower Guinea and one in Gueckedou in the forest region.The discovery brings the overall number of deaths to 95 out of 146 cases, according to the latest statement by the Health Ministry on Friday.
A church in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba was defaced with anti-Christian graffiti attacking Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary on Friday in the latest in a string of attacks by suspected Jewish extremists targeting Palestinian Christian sites.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the graffiti on the church in the old city of Beersheba read: “Jesus = Son of a whore.”
Spokesman for the Israeli police Luba Samari confirmed the incident, and said police have opened an investigation into it.
The attack comes only two days before the Pope is due to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, amid a wave of attacks against Christian holy sites and property that have occurred inside Israel in the last few months.
Unfortunately, the House bill doesn’t include enough money to renew the more than 60,000 existing VASH vouchers unless state and local housing agencies scale back their other voucher programs, by helping fewer families or shifting the burden of rent and utility increases to voucher holders. The bill also risks locking in the loss of more than 70,000 Housing Choice Vouchers cut in 2013 due to sequestration.
As a result, voucher holders — including many veterans — would face higher housing costs, and people on waiting lists for vouchers would face longer waits.
The House bill would also deepen the funding shortfall in public housing, which over time will cause living conditions for more low-income residents — again, including many veterans — to deteriorate.
As policymakers negotiate the final HUD budget, they should reflect on veterans’ service to the country and the progress that’s been made in helping them afford housing. They shouldn’t cut the programs that help them keep a roof over their heads.
Mahienour El-Massry, often dubbed as a voice of the revolution and a champion of women’s rights, has spent her first few nights behind grey walls at Damanhour prison after being sentenced to two years in jail for protesting.
The 28-year-old and eight others were sentenced by one of Alexandria’s crumbling courthouses for organizing an ‘unauthorized protest’ and violating the protest law.
The young activist, who also happens to be a lawyer, had participated in a protest on December 3rd 2013 to call for justice and retribution for Khaled Saeed, the man who was tortured to death in late 2010.
Instead of retribution, her solidarity protest was broken up with tear gas and force. Mahienour and eight others were branded criminals and detractors by security officials.