Chile’s president promises change after deadly riots

World Today

Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera, has promised what he calls a “new social contract” with citizens after days of violent protests that left 15 people dead and more than a thousand arrests.

The demonstrations have exposed grievances about the cost of living.  

Owen Fairclough has more.


Demonstrators clashed with soldiers on Monday evening before another military curfew was imposed on the streets of  Chile’s capital Santiago.

A public transport price rise has triggered days of deadly protests, but there are wider complaints.

“What’s happening has been going on for 30 years,” said one demonstrator, who gave just his first name, Orlando.

“We have issue of the pension funds, the queues in the clinics, waiting lists in hospitals, the cost of treatments, the low salaries.”

Another protestor, Javiera Acevedo, added: “We the people, the united people, will continue on the streets until Piñera either resigns, which would be ideal, or establishes a greater dialogue both with the opposition and with the people who are in the street.”

Billionaire President Sebastian Piñera, elected for a second term in 2017 with a pro-business agenda, initially denounced the demonstrators.

Now he’s changing tack.   

“We are working on a set of measures to potentially improve pensions, lower the price of medicines, reduce the waiting list, improve the quality and health care received by our compatriots, said Piñera. ”

Around half the country is under a state of emergency or military curfew amid looting and arson.

As the protests have spread to neighboring Buenos Aires and even Paris, UN Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet – Piñera’s predecessor – is calling for an independent investigation into the fatalities.