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Over 1 Million Chileans Take to the Streets to Demand Political Reforms, Change to Country’s Neoliberal Economic System

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera on Saturday said he would reshuffle his cabinet after over 1 million Chileans poured into city streets across the country Friday to demand structural reforms to the country’s government and economic system.

The move by Piñera came as the protest movement mobilized people in the captial Santiago and beyond. 

“We’re asking for justice, honesty, ethical government,” protester Francisco Anguitar told AFP Friday. 

Piñera made the announcement late Saturday morning. 

The timeline and plan for the replacement of ministers remains unclear. On Saturday, Reuters reported that a document obtained by the news agency “suggested Piñera was considering replacing the heads of at least nine ministries, including the ministries of interior, defense, economy, transportation and environment.”

Chilean senator Felipe Kast on Twitter credited the Friday protests with prompting Piñera’s decision.

“A peaceful day that will leave its mark on our history,” said Kast. “Chile is not the same as it was yesterday.”

The protests kicked off on October 15 after high school students occupied subway stations in Santiago to protest fare hikes. The movement exploded from there as demonstrations quickly became about the country’s neoliberal economic system and Piñera’s government. 

Piñera, in response to the protests, authorized a brutal crackdown on protesters by military and police forces. Video from the protests shared on social media showed police and soldiers attacking unarmed demonstrators. 

Support for the protest movement poured in from across the world.

“The people of Chile have all my love and support,” tweeted writer Naomi Klein. “Their courage is awe-inspiring.”

Journalist Ben Norton called the protests a “massive rejection of neoliberalism” and linked to photos from the protests.

The demonstrators “represent the dream of a new Chile,” tweeted Santiago Governor Karla Rubilar.

“Our country requires more dialogue and peaceful marches!” said Rubilar.

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Common Dreams

This article is republished from Common Dreams under a Creative Commons 3.0 license.