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Piñera reshuffles a third of the cabinet, but protestors demand his resignation

Tuesday, October 29th 2019 - 09:07 UTC
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“Chile has changed and the government too has to change to confront these new challenges in these new times,” said Piñera “Chile has changed and the government too has to change to confront these new challenges in these new times,” said Piñera
Among those removed was the highly unpopular Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick Among those removed was the highly unpopular Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick
Protesters are demanding Piñera's resignation as anger over low wages and pensions, expensive health and education, and a growing rich/poor gap Protesters are demanding Piñera's resignation as anger over low wages and pensions, expensive health and education, and a growing rich/poor gap

Chilean protesters clashed with security forces on Monday, several hours after embattled President Sebastian Piñera announced a cabinet reshuffle in his latest bid to end 10 days of street demonstrations.

At least 20 people have died in a wave of protests against social and economic inequality ahead of the latest violence in Santiago and, according to local media, the cities of Valparaiso and Concepcion.

“Chile has changed and the government too has to change to confront these new challenges in these new times,” said Piñera, who replaced a third of his cabinet, including highly unpopular Interior Minister Andres Chadwick.

Protesters have been demanding Piñera's resignation as anger over low wages and pensions, expensive health and education, and a growing gap between rich and poor fueled the country's worst civil unrest in decades.

The announcement came amid fresh protests outside the presidential palace in central Santiago, where several dozen demonstrators were chanting: “Piñera, listen up, go to hell.”

The palace was surrounded by security forces while the sound of tear gas being fired and anti-police or anti-military chants filled the air. As tensions mounted, looters struck a pharmacy.

A week-long state of emergency that had seen 20,000 police and soldiers deployed on the streets ended at midnight going into Monday. On Saturday, Piñera canceled nighttime curfews that had begun a day after violent protests broke out.

Finance Minister Felipe Larrain, who was among the axed cabinet members, came under fire last month for recommending that “romantics” buy flowers, after announcing that inflation hadn't risen and they were even cheaper.

Also on the way out was Economy Minister Andres Fontaine, who fell afoul of public opinion when he advised disgruntled workers to “get up earlier” to avoid an increase in peak hour metro prices.

The 3% rise was the spark that triggered the worst political violence Chile has seen since it returned to democracy after the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship from 1973-1990.

Former Santiago governor Karla Rubilar, who was praised for her sympathetic reaction to protesters, has been made minister for the general secretariat of the government.

Despite his attempts to appease the masses, Pinera's approval rating has dropped to 14%.

Categories: Politics, Chile.

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