The Guardian - October 30, 2019
“The people who run the government are the same people who have economic power, it is a perfect circle: they pass laws to make more money, and the rest of us become poorer."
The spark that lit the flame was a 3% hike in subway fares, but after 12 days of mass protests and street violence, Chile’s worst unrest in decades has transformed into a nationwide uprising demanding dramatic changes to the country’s economic and political system.
Eighteen people have died in the violence and 7,000 have been arrested amid widespread outbreaks of violence and arson, and credible allegations of human rights abuses by the security forces.
The leaderless movement has forced the billionaire president, Sebastián Piñera, on the defensive, prompting him to replace eight ministers and announce a string of emergency measures including a small increase in the minimum wage and higher taxes on wealthy Chileans.
But such moves have not been enough to defuse the protests, which are driven by deep-rooted disillusionment over inequality that has left millions of citizens frozen out of Chile’s economic rise.
One per cent of Chile’s population earns 33% of the nation’s wealth, making it the most unequal country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development group of nations.
Many protesters are calling for a new constitution to replace the one written in 1980 during the reign of August Pinochet, which created the legal basis for a market-driven economic model that has privatized pensions, health and education.
“I want change and I want it now. The cost of living keeps rising and our money is badly distributed – in pensions, in healthcare and in education. There is privilege for armed forces, the priests, the politicians, the corporations. And to change that? You have to change the constitution.
“This is a small country, we have natural resources. This could be a prosperous country if our riches were better distributed. We could be marvelous. A country that is prosperous and happy and in peace.
“I’m not afraid. I have nothing to lose. I’m doing this for my granddaughter who is six months old.” ...
Read full report at The Guardian