(NEWS.YAHOO) — CHICUREO, Chile (AP) — Felicita Pinto arrived early at the gates of the luxurious community where she labors as a maid, but the minibus to her employer’s home was late. So she decided to walk six blocks to work, on streets lined with broad lawns and imposing homes.

Security guards quickly chased her down and forced the 57-year-old widow back to the gate. Pinto’s employer protested, as he had before, against the community bylaws that forbid servants to move at will.

Pinto’s simple stroll helped set off national soul-searching over discrimination and mistreatment of domestic workers across Chile, where leaders ache to be accepted as representing an enlightened, developed nation. Local news media heard of the case and outrage followed when another homeowner in the El Algarrobal II development sought to justify the restrictions.

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