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Chilean president vows ‘cabinet reshuffle’ to appease 1 million protestors

Chilean president vows ‘cabinet reshuffle’ to appease 1 million protestors

Posted October. 28, 2019 07:34,   

Updated October. 28, 2019 07:34


Public protests in Chile, which were sparked by a 4-cent’ hike in subway fare on October 6, is increasingly intensifying.

Some 1 million people, the largest crowd ever, took to the street in the Chilean capital Santiago on Friday. The demonstrations have left 18 people killed and more than 7,000 arrested through Friday. President Sebastian Piñera announced a cabinet reshuffle on Saturday to appease public sentiment, but demonstrators remain angry. They are demanding withdrawal of the October 18 declaration of state of national emergency by the president, and comprehensive social reform. They uploaded the hashtag “#the biggest march in Chile” on social media, stressing their intentions to continue protests for some time.

Anti-government demonstrations resumed on Saturday after a three-week hiatus in Iraq, the Middle East as well due to economic hardships and religious conflict there, leaving at least 67 people killed for two days. According to Reuters and other media outlets, demonstrators are protesting against lack of public services including tap water and electricity supply, and unemployment. Protests in Lebanon, which erupted after the government announced it would levy taxes on the online messenger service WhatsApp on October 17, have yet to subside. Major banks, schools and companies remained shut down for the time being.

The Washington Post and other media outlets reported on Friday that the protests prompted U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to urge leaders of member states to “to listen to the real problems of real people.”

“‘Disquiet in people's lives’ had sparked protests around the world from Europe, to Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean,” Guterres said on the day. “It is clear that there is a growing deficit of trust between people and political establishments, and rising threats to the social contract. Even where people are not protesting, they are hurting and want to be heard. They want their leaders to listen to them,” the UN chief added, in urging world leaders to pay attention to difficulties in people’s livelihood. He also called on protestors to commit to nonviolence.

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com