Chile: Protest continues as death toll hits 18
Thu 24 October 2019:
The country, usually one of the most stable in Latin America, has experienced its worst violence in decades since protests against a now-scrapped hike in metro fares escalated dramatically on Friday.
Thousands of Chileans flooded the streets of Santiago and other cities in a general strike on Wednesday, upping the pressure on beleaguered President Sebastien Pinera after days of social unrest that left 18 dead.
Students, professors and state workers walked off the job at the urging of the country’s largest union, ignoring a package of measures announced by Pinera aimed at quelling the violence.
In the capital Santiago, police used water cannons to disperse protesters.
“Chile has awakened,” read the sign of one protester — a slogan that has been popular since the protests against social and economic woes, and a yawning gap between rich and poor, began last week.
A four-year-old child and a man were killed on Tuesday when a drunk driver rammed into a crowd of demonstrators, Interior Undersecretary Rodrigo Ubilla said.
A third person died after being beaten by police, according to the victim’s family.
The armed forces announced a nighttime curfew for the fifth day running, although at just six hours, Wednesday night’s is the shortest yet.
In an address to the nation late on Tuesday, Pinera apologized for failing to anticipate the outbreak of social unrest.
“I recognize this lack of vision,” Pinera said after a meeting with some of Chile’s opposition leaders.
Beyond the dead, another 269 people have been injured and about 1,900 have been arrested, according to the National Institute for Human Rights.
Strike organizers issued a statement demanding that the government end the state of emergency and send troops back to their barracks.
The country’s powerful copper mine workers’ unions joined the strike movement, but the state copper company insisted that operations continued nonetheless.
Chile is the largest producer of copper in the world, much of which is sold to China.
Despite 2.5 percent growth, ordinary Chileans are deeply unhappy.
In a poll by Ipsos, two thirds of respondents said their economic, health and pensions situation was “unequal and unfair.”
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!