Chile's Workers' United Center (CUT) and over twenty national organizations began on Wednesday a 48-hour general strike to demand President Sebastian Piñera take the military out of the streets.
Chile: State Violence Leads to 1,420 Arrests and 11 Deaths
In Santiago, the country's capital, the strike began with a march from Italy Square towards The Heroes Square.
"Our goals are to say NO to the State of Emergency, recover peace and deepen democracy so that the people's fair demands are met," the CUT Secretary General Nolberto Diaz explained.
Similar demonstrations will be held in several cities throughout the country until 6:00 P.M. At this time, the Chileans are summoned to a "cacerolazo", that is, to make noise by banging pots.
Among the organizations leading the demonstrations are the No More Private Pensions Coordinator, the National Association of Fiscal Employees, the Confederation of Municipal Health, the Coordinator of Trade and Financial Unions, the Banking Confederation, Interempresa Lider Trade Union, the College of Teachers and the National Confederation of Health Workers.
"The Sebastian Piñera administration repeats Augusto Pinochet's fascism. What has happened in the last 72 hours in Chile is outrageous. Grace shots, torture, forced disappearances, people shot by combat weapons and false data."
On Tuesday, President Piñera announced some measures aimed at halting protests with a guaranteed minimum wage, a hike in the state pension offering and the stabilization of electricity costs.
The right-wing politician said he hoped to turn recent violent protests into an “opportunity” for Chile, to “make up for lost time, pick up the pace and take concrete and urgent steps” to resolve social inequality, which has sent tens of thousands into the streets to demand his removal.
Piñera asked for forgiveness for successive governments that failed to act sooner to stem deep inequalities in Latin America´s fifth-largest economy.
The Sebastian Piñera administration repeats Augusto Pinochet's fascism. What has happened in the last 72 hours in Chile is outrageous. Grace shots, torture, forced disappearances, people shot by combat weapons and false data.
"Piñera does not announce the end of this violence. There is no cabinet change. Only ads that will come with small print. There is no structural change of the pension system. This is the most we can expect from him after days with millions of people marching, a state of emergency and 11 dead."
“It is true that problems accumulated for many decades and that different governments were not able to recognize this situation in all its magnitude,” he said.
The Chilean President's ritual repentance, however, was not accompanied by the immediate cessation of repression and violence against the people.
On Tuesday, the National Institute of Human Rights (NHRI) presented 26 legal actions in favor of 129 people who were victims of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment since the mobilizations began. Among the victims are 35 children and adolescents and 94 adults.
According to official data, the death toll in the unrest has risen to 15 people and 5,400 people had been detained by security forces so far.