Chileans force roll-back of price increase for natural gas, 2011


To create dialogue with government and stop the increase of natural gas prices in the region.

Time period

11 January, 2011 to 18 January, 2011



Location City/State/Province

Punta Arenas, Region XII

Location Description

It took place not only in Punta Arenas but the all major towns in Region XII.
Jump to case narrative

Methods in 4th segment

Methods in 5th segment

Methods in 6th segment

Segment Length

Just over 1 day

Notes on Methods

The same methods were used consistently through the protest, with the odd motorcades that occurred a couple times.


Asamblea Ciudadana de Magallanes


Agrupación Nacional de Empleados Fiscales (ANEF), citizens of Region XII

External allies

not known

Involvement of social elites

The Church


ENAP, Ricardo Raineri, Laurence Golborne

Nonviolent responses of opponent

not known

Campaigner violence

There was rumors of the people occupying the barricades in the region at the beginning of the protest would throw rocks at any vehicles trying to go around the barricades.

Repressive Violence

The truck that killed the two girls can fit in here. It was witnessed that he become agitated by the barricades and tried to get through it via by ramming it with his truck. He would never found. Also, Law of Internal Security of the State had been instated in deter the protest from getting out of hand or violent.


Economic Justice



Group characterization

civil groups
worker associations

Groups in 1st Segment

worker associations
Asamblea Ciudadana de Magallanes

Groups in 2nd Segment

civil groups

Groups in 6th Segment

The Church

Additional notes on joining/exiting order

Any groups that joined stayed until the end negotiations with the government. The Church was invited on the last day to oversee gas price negotiations in Punta Arenas.

Segment Length

Just over 1 day

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

5 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


2 out of 3 points

Total points

8 out of 10 points

Notes on outcomes

There ended up only being a 3 percent increase compared to the proposed 17 percent increase. Low income Chileans would get reimbursed and would be unaffected by the increase.

Database Narrative

For Chileans living in the southern Patagonia region, natural
gas is crucial for heating their homes, most importantly during the frigid
winter months. The Chilean Government has been subsidizing natural gas up to
85% for all people in this region because it is the most remote and holds the
highest cost of living in the country. Without this government support, many of
its users would struggle or be unable to pay for it.

On 29 December 2010 the Empresa Nacional del Petróleo (ENAP,
National Petroleum Company) publicly announced that they were going to increase
the natural gas prices by almost 17% in the Region X11, more commonly called
the Magellan region. This motion was backed by Chilean Energy Minister Ricardo

Alongside with the public outcry of Asamblea Ciudadana de
Magallanes (Magallane's Citizens' Assembly), the Agrupación Nacional de Empleados
Fiscales (ANEF) or National Association of Public Employees joined and took
action and protested. Both of these groups had warned the Chilean government
body that if they did not open dialogue with them about the proposed natural
gas increase, they would blockade all roads in the region. This would have a
serious impact on the tourist industry, a large part of the Magellan region's

The Asamblea Ciudadana de Magallanes’ blockade would block off all road
traffic between Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, the world renowned Torres del
Paine national Park, the airport in Punta Arenas and traffic going down to
Tierra del Fuego, the southern island of Argentina mainly accessed by ferrying
across the strait of Magellan in Chile.

On the afternoon of 11 January 2011 citizens in Punta Arenas,
the largest town in the region, started marching in the streets. They created
barricades throughout the town, starting at the ship port.

A motorist rammed into a makeshift barricade, killing two girls,
Claudia Castillo and Melisa Ruiz Silva, and severely injuring a two-year-old.

The attack sparked a greater outpouring of the people into the
streets, joining the protests and occupying barricades.

By the next day, 12 January, the people joining the campaign
extended to the Argentinean border crossings and all major towns in the region.
The citizens of Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas alongside the Asamblea Ciudadana de
Magallanes and ANEF kept their word and blockaded all roads in the region. In
the streets of Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, they held black flags to
symbolize their message along with banners. They chanted and sang peacefully.

The blockade of the region left approximately 3000 tourists
stranded between Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales and in Torres del Paine. For a
short period, no one was allowed past the barricades regardless whether trying
to pass on foot or in cars. The makeshift barricades made of tires, cars, and
trucks were taking a toll on the travel industry and economy. This created more
pressure on the region's government to start dialogue with the people of the
Magellan Region.

During this time, tourists who were stuck in Puerto Natales had
two options; walk far around the barricades south of town and try to hitchhike
to Punta Arenas or head east and walk to the Argentinean border 30kms away. The
Red Cross came with buses lent by the Chilean Army to transport stranded
tourists from Torres del Paine and the two towns. The Red Cross also used
airplanes from the Chilean airline LAN. The Red Cross helped supply food and
medical supplies as well as organizing transport from their base in the

There was increasing concern from the Argentinean government
about accessibility to Tierra del Fuego Island because they had relied on the
highway from Punta Arenas for food and supplies to the remote island. Chile's
Interior Minister Laurence Golborne came to the south to seek a compromise in
Punta Arenas.

On 18 January, church leaders mediated hours of negotiation in
Punta Arenas between Golborne, Punta Arenas officials, and the Asamblea Ciudadana de
Magallanes.  The government agreed that, instead of the
17% price increase they intended, they would settle for only a 3% increase and
that, in addition, the government would reimburse low income Chilean families
so they would see no increase at all.

Hours after the agreement was reached, Globorne made the
announcement on a local radio station; he was escorted out of the radio station
by riot police. Shortly after the negotiations were done, Ricardo Raineri was
forced to resign as Energy Minister with Laurence Golborne to replace him as
Mining and Energy Minister.  The campaign
was highly successful.


The gas protests were be influenced by the Bolivian gas protests a few weeks prior.


Bodzin, Steven. (2011, January 11). Chile protests turn deadly as Latin America buckles under rising energy prices. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from America-buckles-under-rising-energy-prices

González Palma, Eric Eduardo. (2011, January 14). 12 de Enero de 2011, Protesta y Muerte en Punta Arenas. Radiopolar. Retrieved from

Long, Gideon. (2011, January 15). Tourists trapped in Chile due to fuel price strikes. BBC News. Retrieved from

Mostrador, El. (2011, January 11). Gobierno no cede y enfrenta paro indefinido en Magallanes por alza del gas. Elmostrador. Retrieved from no-cede-y-enfrenta-paro-indefinido-en-magallanes-por-alza-del-gas/.

Patagoniax. (2011, January 20). Evacuation from Puerto Natales: Rebellion in Patagonia. CNN. Retrieved from

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Justin Collicutt, 12/11/2013