UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Chile is locked in a social crisis with no signs of ending, and for the second day in a row a general strike that puts pressure on President Sebastian Pinera, who is seeking a solution.
Chilean unions demonstrated their strength on Wednesday with tens of thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets in Santiago.
Their mobilization continued on Thursday to demand that the government withdraw its soldiers from the street after their deployment for the first time since the end of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). They are also demanding solutions to the country’s worst social crisis in 30 years.
“All that President Pineira has done so far is to polarize the country and increase tension. Today we have young people in their street with their own hands, against their own citizens,” Barbara Figueroa, president of the Central Confederation of Workers, Chile’s largest trade union, told reporters.
Trade union organizations and about 20 other movements called for a demonstration in Santiago, a few metro stops from the Moneda presidential palace.
According to official figures, 18 people, including a child, a Peruvian and an Ecuadorian, have been killed since 18 October.
– Night curfew –
Social anger, embodied in violent demonstrations and looting, erupted after the announcement of a 3.75 percent increase in Santiago metro fees, but has not yet eased. The movement, whose participants are diverse and have no clear leaders, has been fueled by resentment at the social and democratic situation and inequality in the country of 18 million people.
“Now the whole country is protesting, enough!” One demonstrator chanted in the middle of the crowd, which was knocking in front of soldiers in Santiago on Wednesday.
The president’s announcement of a series of social measures on Tuesday and his admission that he did not anticipate the crisis and his request for “forgiveness” from his own citizens appeared to have not led to the outcome he had hoped for.
“We were hoping to raise awareness of this social conflict, but the same proposals have been put forward for months,” said Ischia Sches, president of the Chilean Medical Association (Colegio Medico).
Santiago, like many parts of the country, spent its fifth straight night under a curfew.
The Chilean government announced on Wednesday to call up the army reserve to secure “logistical and administrative” support. About 20,000 troops and police have been deployed on the streets.
Security forces, backed by helicopters, patrolled the city overnight and worked to clear the rubble left by demonstrators.
Overnight demonstrations also continued in several neighborhoods of the capital, where protesters erected barricades and clashed with security forces. Four hotels were looted. In the suburbs, a group of residents wearing yellow vests patrolled to avoid thefts.
Sources in the “Codelco” that this public company for mines, which is the largest producer of copper in the world and affected by Wednesday’s strike, resumed its activities normally.
In the Valparaíso region (central) highway tolls were attacked. Demonstrators blocked other highways in the southern region of Araucania.
Chile’s central bank cut interest rates on Wednesday from 2 percent to 1.75 percent and warned that the social crisis could affect the economy.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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