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Long and narrow, Chile clings to the western edge of South America's South­ern Cone. Hugging - page 35 / 46





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Chile                                   471

changes to the reform of the labor law. Many of the provisions were directed . toward the mainly female seasonal labor in the burgeoning fruit industry. Is-.sues included housing, transport, and the establishment of hygienic facilities. SERNAM had also sought to rescind laws that block married women's access to credit without their husband's consent. Moreover, the agency sponsored a childcare program for women entering paid employment in the private sec­tor, again with emphasis on seasonal female labor in the fruit industry. The emphasis on this sector stems from the sharp increase in this workforce due to the success of this new export industry and the fact that labor laws biased toward employer interests make it susceptible to high rates of exploitation.

SERNAM focused more on urbaii areas, even in rural districts. In part, this prompted the National Institute for Agricultural and Husbandry De­velopment (Institute Nacional de Desarrollo Agrppecuario, INDAP) of the Ministry of Agriculture to establish a women's department (Area Mujer). This agency attended to the needs of peasant women who were not employed as seasonal labor in the fruit industry; thus, it was more urban-centered because it revolved around packing operations.

Overall, SERNAM did not succeed in promoting its longer term goals or, sadly, many of its shorter term ones, either. This was largely due to the agency's firmly subordinated place on the Concertacion's policy agenda. Consequently, SERNAM concentrated on forming working teams with the departments of other ministries relevant to its work. These teams generated research that its members hoped would be useful in policy debates. Under these conditions, and in the interests of compromise with conservative po­litical forces, SERNAM played a more limited role than its staff envisioned. Existing programs operated mainly as government services rather than as foci to encourage the empowerment, organization, and participation of women in the community, unions, and social organizations. Thus, SERNAM lacked a strongly organized social base to help push its agenda forward.

A similar situation occurred with the environmental movement. The mil­itary government had formed a small agency to address environmental prob­lems. However, that agency, for all intents and purposes, had no mandate and most environmentalists avoided it because they opposed Pinochet. This changed with redemocratization. The Concertacion welcomed environmen­talists into their fold and vowed to address Chile's environmental problems. The Aylwin administration created the National Commission for the Envi­ronment (Comision Nacional del Medio Ambiente, CONAMA) and in 1994 passed the Comprehensive Environmental Act. CONAMA did not gain cab­inet rank. Instead, it is an interministerial commission chaired by the top trouble-shooter and right hand to the President of the Republic, the minis­ter of the General Secretariat of the Republic.

CONAMA is a small agency. It has a permanent staff of fewer than sev­enty employees and hires consultants for special projects. Its heart is the technical secretariat, whose principal function is to oversee the implemen­tation of environmental impact reports for new public and private economic development projects. Pollution abatement rather than natural resource ex-

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