SANTIAGO – Fishermen in at least six towns in southern Chile’s Chiloe archipelago cancelled their protests after an agreement was reached with the government regarding the conflict stemming from the red tide affecting a large part of the region’s coast, authorities said on the weekend.
“We signed an agreement with the fishermen’s representatives in Castro, Dalcahue, Puqueldon, Quinchao, Queilen and ... Curaco de Velez,” Economy Minister Luis Felipe Cespedes, named on Saturday as “coordinating minister” for President Michelle Bachelet to deal with the problem, told reporters.
After signing the agreement, Cespedes said that the fishermen’s signatures reflect a new spirit in the talks “that seeks solutions and lets us work on a new phase, where we have to look for answers and at the same time work with an eye toward the future,” he added.
Regarding other affected communities, Cespedes said that they will continue the talks and that “there is an absolute willingness for dialogue.”
The leaders of Quellon, Ancud, Quemchi, Maullin, Los Muermos and Calbuco remain mobilized but were expecting to resume talks on Sunday afternoon to try and find a way out of the dispute.
However, the leaders of Ancud suspended their Sunday meeting with the economy minister in Puerto Montt.
The local leaders’ decision arose because the government did not agree to their proposal for increasing the bonus to be awarded by the state to those affected by the red tide from about $1,100 to $1,400.
For the past two weeks, the fishermen have been protesting over the prohibition placed on their activities due to the high concentrations of paralyzing toxins detected in local sea life.
Since 1972, 23 people have died in Chile from eating seafood contaminated with the red tide toxins.