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  • The camp of about a dozen tents was established in a public square located just a short distance from the Chilean president’s residence between the seat of Congress in Santiago and the Supreme Court building.

    The camp of about a dozen tents was established in a public square located just a short distance from the Chilean president’s residence between the seat of Congress in Santiago and the Supreme Court building. | Photo: EFE

Published 10 December 2019
Opinion

Social protests in Chile have been under way for two months and is the most serious to beset Chile since democracy was restored, with at least 24 people dying of police violence.

Representatives of various Chilean social organizations set up Monday a protest camp in downtown Santiago to denounce the “deafness” of the government to the demands of the social uprising.

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“At 53 days of an intense and extensive struggle by the entire Chilean people demanding justice and dignity, the deafness of the authorities forces up to maintain the mobilization and seek new ways to make ourselves heard,” said the spokesman for the “No-Mas-AFP” National Workers Coordinator, Luis Mesina.

“We don’t accept the answers of the government and their spokespeople who say that they understand the public’s demands, but only offer bonuses and temporary subsidies from the public funds, while still maintaining and deepening the enormous existing inequality in the country,” the social activist added.

Participating in the initiative are organizations including the Social Unity Board,  organizations representing teachers, public and private sector workers and more who are seeking to put an end to Chile’s much-criticized private pension system.

“We want not only a Constitutional Assembly that is sovereign, partisan and plurinational, but also to be able to move forward on certain requirements that the public has having to do with the problems of pensions, dignified health and the end to student debt,” leader of the Fenpruss University Health Care Workers Federation Gabriela Farias told EFE.

What began as a protest by Chilean students against the increase in metro fares on Oct. 18 quickly morphed into a general social uprising in which thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets to call for a fairer economic model.

Although the movement refuses an identifiable leadership, the Social Unity Board has been attaining greater prominence within the ranks of the protests in recent days.

Representatives of that social grouping met two weeks ago with the Chilean government for the first time amid the crisis and discussed, among other things, the need to increase the minimum wage from the current 301,000 pesos (US$374) to 550,000 pesos (US$664) per month and change the pension system.

The marches continue as the government has announced timid social measures to try and quell the unrest and the historic accord among lawmakers to change the Constitution, which was inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

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