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Chile protests: President calls for Cabinet reshuffle

October 27, 2019

In an attempt to ease weeklong protests, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has said there will be a Cabinet reshuffle. Chileans are protesting the economic situation in their country.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Saturday called for a major Cabinet reshuffle to pacify a week of mass protests against inequality. Pinera did not announce the specifics of the reshuffle or say when it would occur.

Reuters news agency said it had obtained a document suggesting the reshuffle could be far reaching, with the heads of nine ministries set for the chop, including interior, defense, economy, transport and environment.

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.

Deadly riots

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 of dictator Augusto Pinochet.

State of emergency to be lifted

Speaking with reporters on Saturday morning, Pinera said he would 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 health care 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.

mm,law/ng (dpa, Reuters)

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