- Title: Pinera says demands of Chileans 'loud and clear,' protests begin anew
- Date: 24th October 2019
- Summary: SANTIAGO, CHILE (OCTOBER 24, 2019) (REUTERS) TOP VIEW OF ANTI-RIOT VEHICLES ON SITE WHERE PROTESTERS ARE GATHERED TOP VIEW OF PROTESTERS WITH SIGNS CROWD OF PROTESTERS THROWING ROCKS AND STICK, WATER CANON DOUSING CROWD PROTESTERS THROWING ROCKS AT ANTI-RIOT VEHICLES AS WATER CANON DOUSES THEM TOP VIEW OF PROTESTERS RUNNING AS WATER CANON TRIES TO ADVANCE ON THEM
- Embargoed: 7th November 2019 20:20
- Keywords: APEC crisis prices violence protests transportation Chile looting inequality President Sebastian Pinera
- Location: SANTIAGO AND ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE
- City: SANTIAGO AND ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE
- Country: Chile
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Civil Unrest,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001B2GKOCN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: PART LIVE U SIGNAL QUALITY. PLEASE MONITOR FOR UPDATES LATER
Chile's president and lawmakers prepared on Thursday (October 24) to push forward social equality reforms as protesters hit the streets again to call for swift action to improve lives.
Thousands gathered in Santiago's Plaza Italia where they clashed with police. Anti-riot police used tear gas and water canon in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
Chile's Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera announced they would be inviting personnel from the High Commission of Human Rights as well as members of Human Rights Watch to visit the country in order to ensure the full transparency of events.
"We are very interested in maximum transparency and that all necessary assurances be taken," Ribera said.
Additionally, Ribera said that the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit slated for mid-November will go on despite the protests against inequality that have left at least 16 dead.
Riots that started over a hike in public transport costs prompted days of arson attacks and looting that led to the arrest of more than 6,000 people, officials said.
Chile's military has taken over security in Santiago, a city of 6 million, imposing curfews for five consecutive nights.
Ribera said Chile's foreign ministry had contacted each of the 20 participants in the conference, known by its initials APEC, amid the crisis in Santiago.
"They have expressed no doubt with respect to their attendance," he told reporters.
Center-right leader Sebastian Pinera said he would ship a bill to Congress that would overturn a recent hike in electricity rates, one of several measures he hopes will turn the violent demonstrations into an "opportunity" for Chile.
He said he would follow it on Friday with a bill to up the minimum pension by 20%.
In Chile, anger over inequality and cost of living sent tens of thousands into the streets to demand an overhaul in one of the region's traditionally most stable, and wealthy, nations.
In over five days of unrest that appeared to be dying down on Wednesday night, more than 6,000 people have been detained and at least 16 killed.
Pinera, a billionaire businessman, spoke to the nation on Thursday morning in a televised broadcast, saying he had heard "loud and clear" the demands of Chileans.
Even as Pinera spoke Thursday morning, many protesters had already begun to gather again in the central plazas and downtown streets of Santiago, banging pots and calling for further reforms under the blazing, spring-time sun.
Pinera also proposed a new, guaranteed minimum wage and reductions in public transportation costs.
Prosecutors said late Wednesday that 6,493 people had been charged for involvement in protests and rioting since Saturday.
Between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, 734 more people had been charged in connection with protests, looting and arson around the country, with 324 arrested in Santiago.
Photographs and videos were circulating on social media purporting to show excessive force used by police and soldiers responsible for security in Santiago. Reuters has been unable to confirm their authenticity, however.
U.N. human rights boss Michelle Bachelet, a former president of Chile, said in a tweet Thursday she would send a mission to her home country to investigate allegations of human rights violations.
(Production: Jorge Vega, Esteban Medel, Guillermo Garcia)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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