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Mobilised protesters in the Aysén region of Chile have lifted strategic roadblocks ahead of a meeting today with Energy Minister Rodrigo Álvarez.
The roadblocks, which had been cutting off shipments of food and fuel to the region, were lifted yesterday as the government and protesters agreed to resume talks that fell apart on 20th February.
The demonstrations by more than thirty participating social organisations began last month as citizens in the region demanded, among several issues, a government response to high fuel costs in Chilean Patagonia.
Tensions between Chilean security forces and protesters have become violent at times over the past month, including a 24th February standoff at Ibañez Bridge that lasted 11 hours and included more than 3,000 people.
The government has since insisted that all roadblocks be lifted, while protesters have held strong in negotiations to address the 11 points presented to government ministers who have visited the region previously.
Protesters are demanding a subsidy for fuel and firewood prices, as well as a higher minimum wage relative to the rest of the country, to balance out Aysén’s comparatively high energy costs that support domestic consumption.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera stated last month that he would be exploring options to address the problem of fuel costs in Aysén, though protesters have continued to clash with the militarised police known as Carabineros.
Progress this week may point in the direction of solutions, as protesters have now lifted roadblocks choking the region’s supplies and remain ready to negotiate with the government.
“We will honour our word, we will unlock everything,” said Iván Fuentes, a leading figure of the movement in Aysén.