Chile’s em­bat­tled Pin­era vows ma­jor reshuf­fle

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

SANTIAGO (Reuters) — Chilean Pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Pin­era on Satur­day added a ma­jor cabi­net reshuf­fle to a grow­ing list of re­forms he has promised, to tame in­equal­ity and quell mass protests that have rocked the South Amer­i­can na­tion.

His an­nounce­ment fol­lows a peace­ful rally late Fri­day that saw 1 mil­lion Chileans flood the streets to call for re­forms to the coun­try’s so­cial and eco­nomic model.

Chile, the world’s top cop­per pro­ducer, has tra­di­tion­ally been one of the re­gion’s most pros­per­ous and sta­ble free-mar­ket economies, but en­trenched in­equal­ity and spi­ral­ing costs of liv­ing have sparked calls for change.

“I have put all my min­is­ters on no­tice in or­der to re­struc­ture my cabi­net to con­front these new de­mands,” Pin­era told re­porters Satur­day at mid-day from the La Moneda pres­i­den­tial palace.

Pin­era did not an­nounce the specifics of the reshuf­fle, nor did he say when he would an­nounce them.

A doc­u­ment ob­tained by Reuters, how­ever, sug­gested Pin­era was con­sid­er­ing re­plac­ing the heads of at least nine min­istries, in­clud­ing the min­istries of in­te­rior, de­fense, econ­omy, trans­porta­tion and en­vi­ron­ment.

Protests in Chile be­gan over a hike in sub­way fares more than a week ago but boiled into ri­ots that have killed at least 17 peo­ple, re­sulted in more than 7,000 ar­rests and caused more than $1.4 bil­lion of losses to Chilean busi­nesses.

‘Buy­ing time’

The cen­ter-right Pin­era trounced the leftist op­po­si­tion dur­ing 2017 elec­tions. But the mass ral­lies through­out Chile have forced Pin­era to change tact and tone, up­end­ing his pol­icy goals and now, forc­ing over­haul his cabi­net.

Pin­era is look­ing to “buy time” by an­nounc­ing the reshuf­fle and putting all of his min­is­ters on no­tice, said Lu­cia Dam­mert, a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst with Santiago-based think-tank Es­pa­cio Publico. But, she said Chileans would not wait much longer for specifics.

“The peo­ple are ask­ing for a change…and now he’s left us with­out a cabi­net,” she said, adding she ex­pected fur­ther an­nounce­ments shortly.

Chile’s un­rest is the lat­est in a flare-up of protests in South Amer­ica and around the world — from Beirut to Barcelona — each with lo­cal trig­gers but shar­ing in com­mon anger at rul­ing elites and in­equal­ity.

Pin­era, a bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man, called for a new “so­cial con­tract” ear­lier this week in re­sponse to protesters’ de­mands. He has promised to boost the min­i­mum wage and pen­sions, ditch fare hikes on pub­lic trans­porta­tion and fix the coun­try’s ail­ing health care sys­tem.

The ri­ots, which dec­i­mated swaths of the city’s metro and wrought nearly $1 bil­lion in dam­ages to busi­ness, prompted Pin­era to de­clare a “state of emer­gency” and place the mil­i­tary in charge of se­cu­rity across large swaths of the coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.