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Chile Protests: 1 Million Take to the Streets to Demand President Resign

By: Brian Zhou

· Global Affairs

As of almost a month ago, the country of Chile has been in a state of constant disarray. Sparked by an increase in metro fares in early October, protests have raged across the country against the failing economy, a spike in crime, and a government widely perceived to be rampant with corruption. Since then, the metro fare hike has been suspended, but the situation has only worsened. On October 18th, Chile’s billionaire president, Sebastián Piñera, declared a state of emergency, mobilizing the Chilean Army and imposing a curfew. However, on October 26th—in one of the largest protests to date—over one million protestors brought the capital city of Santiago to a standstill, demanding the resignation of President Piñera. Now, the many protesters are also calling for changes to the national constitution. As of November, 20 are dead and just under 3,000 are in police custody. As a result of the chaos, Chile has cancelled both the upcoming Asia-Pacific Trade Forum and United Nations climate summit.

The protests are a direct result of Chile’s countless failing social and economic programs. Despite being one of South America’s wealthiest nations, it is also one of the most unequal. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Carribbean notes that the top one percent holds almost a third of the wealth. In contrast, the bottom 50 percent of households have access to around two percent of the nation’s wealth. A system where healthcare, education, utilities, and pensions are all privatized, combined with a history of government scandals, have heightened inequality in Chile to an extent of being the worst among Latin American countries. Many citizens believe the current system favors the armed forces, priests, politicians, and corporations at the expense of the common people. 

As of now, the protests have no indication of stopping. In fact, the cancellation of the upcoming international meetings are projected to only inflame tensions.

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