October 27, 2019 12:01:24 pm
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Saturday called for a major cabinet reshuffle in a bid to pacify a week of mass protests against inequality. Pinera did not announce the specifics of the reshuffle or say when it would occur.
Pinera’s announcement follows a peaceful rally late on Friday that saw one million Chileans flood the streets to demand economic and political change.
“I have put all my ministers on notice in order to restructure my cabinet to confront these new demands,” Pinera told reporters from the La Moneda presidential palace.
Protests in Chile began over an increase in subway fares more than a week ago and escalated into riots that have left at least 17 people dead, resulted in more than 7,000 arrests and caused more than $1.4 billion (€1.2 billion) in losses for Chilean businesses.
Earlier in the week, Pinera declared a state of emergency across much of Chile and put the military in charge of security in Santiago and other cities, saying the country was “at war” against vandals.
The move sparked outrage among many in Chile, who said his words and actions reminded them of the country’s dark era of military rule under the grip dictator Augusto Pinochet.
State of emergency to be lifted
Speaking with reporters on Saturday morning, Pinera said he would soon lift the state of emergency on Sunday evening as violence and looting has begun to subside.
Pinera this week called for a new “social pact,” promising to boost the minimum wage and pensions, abandon fare hikes on public transportation and fix the country’s ailing healthcare system.
In a statement Saturday, the military said the city “had tended to normalcy … thanks to the contribution of all of its citizens,” and said it would lift a military curfew on the city on Saturday evening.
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