WEEKLY REVIEW - CHILE A POLITICAL HUE AND CRY

Created: 10/6/1972

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CHltE

a political hue and cry

Heated debate- goes on over the Allendehandling of the media, education, and public order as well as over the political role of the Chilean military.

The President's critics believeew government offensive is under way to silence their media outlets. They cite the closure of two radio stations as well as Allende's veto of legislation that would have provided funds to help radio and television outlets In danger of economicThey say the government is responsible for the condition the media are In. These claims are bolstered by the critical situation of Chile's largest company and main source of newsprint, brought on by official pressure. Some opposition media court martyrdom by their excesses, but pro-government competitors get away withbehavior. The administration eased away from ovort suppression of the media when thisublic hue and cry. but many of Allende'ssee an urgent need to muzzle thespokesmen.

Results of the elections oneptember for administrators of the University of Chile'sampuses andaculties have been such as to allow both sides to claim victory. The united opposition forces made the better showing,igh abstention rate, weighted vote rules, and geographical diffusion make It difficult to show convincingly that the government suffered asetback. Secondary student demonstrations have becomeaily staple and appear to be getting rougher, thanks to the activities of goon squads from both camps.ctober, after an unusually strong polka crackdown that injured more thanhristianlegislator said he would bring charges to Impeach still another interior minister.

There Is growing evidence that theis moving to ensure public order on its own terms. Police forces are being increased, and the Justice minister recently announced that"vigilance boards and crime prevention committees" will bo formed to workWith thorn. Harsher measures are being taken to track down the owners and smugglers of arms. To argue its fairness, the government can point to moves against leftist extremists if It Is criticized for singling out opposition activities.

The Chilean military, although it is deeply concerned over the present situation, apparently cannotonsensus taking exception tointerpretation of his constitutional powers. Army chief Prats has publicly criticized the opposition press for its "provocativeof the forced resignation of coup-plotting General Canales. Prats restated his opposition to those who seek to undermine military discipline for political purposes and toanales responded with aof injured virtue and threats to publicize army documents injurious to Prats. "

economic woes

Chile Is plagued by worsening consumer shortages and rising prices. The Increase in the cost of living in August was even larger than feared, and inflation probably reached someercent during the first nine months of the year.

Since wage rates were increasedctober to btatch these priceurtherin de nand is Inevitable: The Impact of the wage Increa es wiTTbe to widen further the large gap between supply and demand. At the same time, transport problems are growing andthe distribution of supplies. Because ofport congestion, for example, wheat supplies In Santiago are already low and mayread shortage. Delays in unloading are so long that shippers taking cargoes to major Chilean ports now areurcharge.

Maintaining adequate supplies ot foodstuffs willajor problem for Allende. Beefalready the subject of widespread consumer shortages and black marketing, will bo further reduced following the recently announced ban on imports to save scarce foreign exchange. Inmore than one half of Chile's farmland is now In the hands of the government and is having managerial problems. The resultharp drop in farm output, and the promise of further drops.

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Plantings of winter wheat are down sharply, and the upcoming harvest promises to be even smaller than last year, the worst Inears. As aChile will have to import about one million tons of wheat, as wellons of corn. Because Chile Is unable to obtain more thanercent of Its needs from Argentina, Australia, and Canada, the Allende government will try to buy US grain. Chile plans to seek US export credits to finance its purchases, but is willing to spend some of Its scarce foreign exchange if need

The government has announced several new policies to counter these supply problems. It plans to take over control of the marketing of all fresh vegetables and to sethain ofmarkets. In addition. It hasasic "family basket" of staple foods that all stores will be obliged to sell. At the same time, the administration announced that the price of goods included in this "family basket" will be frozen. To enforce the freeze, "volunteer"will report on prices charged In private stores. The government added that further wage increases would be determined by changes in prices for this "basket.'* Although thehas stated that It does not plan .to institute either rationingage freeze, these additional controls have much the same effecti^HlB*feY

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