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News > Chile

Chileans to Demonstrate as President Piñera Adresses the Nation

  • A woman escapes tear gas during a demonstration against pension reform in Santiago, Chile, May 30, 2019.

    A woman escapes tear gas during a demonstration against pension reform in Santiago, Chile, May 30, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 1 June 2019

Chileans are taking to the streets to protest against policies that eliminate rights and criminalize social leaders.

The Chilean Confederation of Students (Confech) is calling for major protests and "pot-banging" in the coastal city of Valparaiso Saturday at the same time President Sebastian Piñera's addresses the nation from the city Saturday afternoon.


Chilean Police Repress Thousands of Protesting Students

The June 1 demonstrations are a continuation of the confederation's protests that began over two months ago demanding that the government eliminate pressing student loans, and work to make higher education campuses less sexist and safer for women. Despite the Confech trying several times to gain authorization for the marches from the local government, they were refused each time. 

"With or without permission, people will march to show their undeniable indignation and discontent with the Piñera administration," Confech spokesperson, Sebastian Armijo, told local media Friday.

In April, the National Coordinator of Secondary Students, Florencia Atria, said student organizers have also been "criminalized and persecuted" and that the right to protest was also a reason to demonstrate. "We will not tolerate the measures of this government that has a discourse about protecting children, while in practice it is heavily criminalizing and repressing us," Atria said in mid-April.

Symbolically, the marches will begin at the same time President Piñera begins his speech from Congress located in Valparaiso.

Chilean government has ordered over 1,500 Carabineros, the nation's militarized national police to provide security for the president.

The march, set to begin at 6:00p.m. local time in Victory Square and end at the National Congress.

"Carabineros crackdown brutally students' protest in Chile."

Chile's legislator was  relocated to Valparaiso in 1990, when it was reinitiated there after being terminated by Augusto Pinochet during his military dictatorship (1973-1990).

Demonstrations have already been taking place across Chile since last Thursday to protest the 6.9 percent unemployment rate that is affecting women by up to eight percent. The percentage of people employed in the informal economy reach 29 percent in April.

The June 1st demonstrations will also be joined by citizens who are against Piñera's social security project that perpetuates the current privatized model implemented by Pinochet. It is a mandatory retirement system that depends on the fluctuations of international markets. Chileans say the system is broken and has proven incapable of providing senior citizens with adequate means of subsistence.

During the general protests this past week Carabineros used repression to quell peaceful demonstrators, particularly in Valparaiso.

"Protesters started shouting slogans and making noise with some pots... [then] an excessive number of Carabinero special forces acted violently, supported by armored vehicles that threw (tear) gases and sprayed water," Clarin media said, adding that women, elders and children were trying to escape from Victoria Square, which was completely surrounded by police forces." 

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