In Chile, An Effort To Quell Protests

A riot policeman chases a demonstrator during protests against the government economic policies, in the surroundings of La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, on October 29, 2019. (Photo by PEDRO UGARTE/AFP via Getty Images)
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SANTIAGO, Chile, Weds. Oct. 30, 2019: Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has announced sweeping changes to his cabinet in an effort to quell mass protests which have swept through the country for days.

Eight ministers, including interior and finance, will be replaced.

The move comes two days after Mr Piñera put the entire cabinet on notice.

Despite the measures, protesters have again clashed with security forces in Valparaiso, Concepcion and the centre of the capital, Santiago.

Dozens of firefighters are also tackling a huge fire in a shopping centre near the presidential palace in Santiago.

At least 20 people have been killed since protests over inequality erupted more than a week ago.

President Piñera said the country had lived through “difficult days”. “Chile has changed and the government also has to change to deal with these new challenges and times,” the president said about the reshuffle.

He also said that “our government has listened to the clear and strong message sent by Chileans, who demand and deserve a more just and supportive country with more opportunities and less privilege”.

Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick, who was severely criticised for his handling of the response to the protests, will be replaced by Gonzalo Blumel.

There have also been changes at the ministries of finance, economy, labour and sports. Santiago Governor Karla Rubilar will from now on be the new government spokeswoman.

What’s the background?

Protests triggered by a now-suspended rise in the price of metro fares in Santiago widened and spread to other parts of the country over the past 10 days.

They culminated in a march in the capital on Saturday attended by at least a million people – the biggest demonstrations to be held in Chile since democracy was restored in 1990, according to organisers. (BBC)