13 de noviembre de 2019
Hispanic World

Piñera apologizes, announces reforms in pensions, healthcare, wages, prices

Santiago de Chile, Oct 22 (efe-epa).- The president of Chile on Tuesday announced a social agenda to reform the pension, healthcare and pharmaceutical systems, as well as minimum wages and the cost of electricity, among other measures, after apologizing to the citizens for not seeing their needs.

Santiago de Chile, Oct 22 (efe-epa).- The president of Chile on Tuesday announced a social agenda to reform the pension, healthcare and pharmaceutical systems, as well as minimum wages and the cost of electricity, among other measures, after apologizing to the citizens for not seeing their needs.

Sebastian Piñera's social agenda also included higher taxes on the wealthiest citizens, the creation of a victims' ombudsman, a reduction in the allowances of parliamentarians and salaries of the public servants.

Piñera presented these measures on national television towards the end of the fifth day of massive protests by people demanding a more equitable country.

Much of the country has been in a state of emergency and under curfew with the army in charge of security, following unrest and vandalism that have accompanied the protests. The ensuing violence has left a death toll of at least 15 killed during the unrest.

The major announcements by Piñera are as follows:


Pension reform envisages increasing in the so-called Solidarity Pillar – the pension system in which the state participates – with a 20-percent hike in the Basic Solidarity Pension and another 20 percent in the Planned Solidarity Contribution, which, he claimed, would benefit 590,000 and 945,000 pensioners, respectively.

He also announced an additional increase in basic pensions and solidarity contributions for 2021-22 for retirees over the age of 75, tax resources to supplement the planned savings of the middle class and working women, and tax resource contributions to improve pensions for non-contributing older adults.

The pension system has been one of the main issues that have stirred up Chilean society. It forces workers to deposit about 12 percent of their salary each month in individual accounts held by private entities that give an average pension of about $220, just over half the minimum wage, which currently stands at $422 per month.


He announced an urgent legislative action on a bill he had already sent to Congress to create a so-called Catastrophic Disease Insurance "in order to lay down a ceiling on family health spending."

He also said he would provide insurance covering some of the expenses incurred by medicine-dependent Chilean families and an extension of the National Health Fund (Fonasa) agreement to pharmacies to reduce the price of medicines.


The president announced the creation of a guaranteed minimum income of 350,000 pesos (about $482) supplementing the salary of full-time workers when it is less than that amount, a benefit that will be applied proportionately to those under the age of 15 and those older than 65.


Those with a monthly income of over eight million pesos (about $11,000) will pay a 40-percent tax, which is expected to contribute $160 billion to the public coffers, and would help fund these new measures, Piñera said.


Piñera announced a reduction in the allowances of parliamentarians and salaries of civil servants, as well as a reduction in the number of MPs and a limitation on the number of terms they may serve.


He promised to create a mechanism to stabilize electricity prices, which would provide for a rollback of the recent 9.2 percent increase in prices in the sector.

Moreover, he urged the National Congress to expedite some bills sent by the government regarding the protection of children and adolescents and the elderly who cannot fend for themselves.

Finally, Piñera announced a $350-million reconstruction plan following the damage and destruction to public and private property as a result of the violence that has engulfed the country in recent days. EFE-EPA


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Chileans take to streets again to protest for 15th consecutive day

Santiago, Oct 22 (efe-epa).- Thousands of people in Chile took to the streets again on Tuesday for the 15th consecutive day to protest against the government amid emergency decrees and new curfews in several parts of the country.

In Santiago, thousands of demonstrators began arriving at the Plaza Italia, the epicenter of the protests in the capital, although during the early morning hours things remained calm.

As the day wore on, however, the demonstrators flooded into the area amid a heavy military presence, the troops being deployed since Friday in the capital and in cities in the metropolitan region.

Besides those who came to the plaza, a huge column of people moved along Bernardo O'Higgins Avenue to join those who were already congregating there.

The Carabineros - Chile's militarized police - deployed their Special Forces unit, along with armored vehicles mounting water cannons and tear gas mortars, and used riot control measures to try and disperse the crowds.

Amid the heavy doses of tear gas, people's eyes and noses were tearing up and stinging throughout the area.

With the new tear gas laid down by the authorities, the demonstrators once again retreated into nearby areas, but they returned shortly thereafter when the gas clouds dissipated and refuse to leave the vicinity entirely.

Besides the new protests on the Plaza Italia, in the eastern neighborhood of La Condes, local residents gathered along Apoquindo Avenue to join the protests carrying pots and pans which they banged, creating a huge racket.

For another day, the residents of the Ñuñoa neighborhood hit the streets by the hundreds to stage peaceful, but strident, protests.

Elsewhere, in Valparaiso protests also erupted and demonstrators clashed with the police.

In the southern city of Concepcion, a huge march made its way through the streets of the Biobio regional capital, which along with Valparaiso and Santiago has been the main focus of the disturbances, fires and looting, as a result of which the government declared a state of emergency and a nighttime curfew.

So far, the official death toll in the recent protests and violence stands at 15 - 11 of them during looting, three in clashes with the police and one person who was run over by a Navy truck.

Authorities have confirmed that among the dead are two Colombian citizens and one Ecuadorian.

Since the protests began, at least 2,643 people have been arrested.

The government's hike in Santiago Metro fares unleashed a wave of protests that over the past two weeks have awakened the ire of the public at the high costs for public services, the inadequate pension system and deficiencies in the public health system, all of this combining into a social outburst that has been unprecedented in Chile's recent history.

The government has responded by declaring a state of emergency in almost all portions of the country, placing security into the hands of the army and implementing curfews.

Military officer detained for alleged homicide in Chile protests

Santiago, Oct 22 (efe-epa).- The Chilean National Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday reported the indictment and preventive detention of a military officer for allegedly committing homicide against a protester on Sunday in the north of the country under a state of emergency.

The Ministry of the Interior and Public Security said through a statement that the deceased is one of 15 people killed since the protests started in the South American country on Oct. 18.

"Homicide committed against a person took place on Oct. 20 at night, under circumstances that a first corporal in the army was patrolling the area of the streets of Bilbao and Pinto in Coquimbo, and could have fired a shot at the victim, who later died at the San Pablo hospital," it said.

The suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, was arrested and the prosecutor's office tried to extend his detention while the investigation is being carried out, but after the refusal of a court, they decided to charge him.

The formalization of the detention was based on images from a video showing the patrol carried out by the military and the time of the shooting, as indicated by the prosecutor's office.

Witness statements and emergency services information that account for the victim's death were also provided in the case.

The investigation is set to take 120 days, as there is still a ballistic examination and an autopsy pending.

The city of Coquimbo has been under a state of emergency with curfews imposed since Sunday morning.

These measures have been taken in almost all regions of the country and the armed forces have been charged with ensuring public order.

The increase in the price of the subway tickets in Santiago marked the beginning of a wave of protests that, as the days passed, aroused further anger in citizens due to the high prices of electricity or gas services, the failure of the distribution of the pension system and poor public health services, provoking a social movement unseen in the recent history of Chile. EFE-EPA


HRW urges Chile to respect human rights

Washington DC, Oct 22 (efe-epa).- Human Rights Watch on Tuesday urged the government of Chile to respect human rights while containing protests that have already left 15 people dead.

The Americas director at HRW, Jose Miguel Vivanco, said that the group was deeply concerned by the images of instances of police brutality coming out of the Andean nation.

“President Piñera should make clear to Chilean security forces that they need to respect human rights and ensure that officers implicated in abuses are promptly and impartially investigated,” he added.

Vivanco also encouraged Chilean prosecutors to “carry out prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations into serious crimes committed by demonstrators in recent days.”

Protests in Chile erupted over a hike in the fares of the metro in the country’s capital, Santiago, but quickly turned into a nationwide movement against social inequality.

Chilean President Sebastian Piñera declared a state of emergency, deployed soldiers on the streets and said the country was "at war against a powerful and relentless enemy who respects nothing and no one."

So far, Chile’s National Human Rights Institute (INDH) has reported that 15 people have died (five at the hands of the security forces), 226 have been injured (123 through firearms) and nearly 1,700 detained.

In addition, the INDH denounced alleged incidents of torture and abuse by security force members during the past five days of protests.

Piñera on Tuesday apologized to Chileans for not seeing their needs and announced a social agenda to reform the pensions, healthcare and pharmaceutical systems, as well as minimum wages and electricity tariffs, among other measures.

He presented these measures on national television towards the end of the fifth day of massive protests by people demanding a more equitable country, and at a time when much of the South American nation has been in a state of emergency and under curfew with the army in charge of security. EFE-EPA


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