Personal Liberty Digest™ will be upgraded this weekend to reflect a dynamic new look and mobile-friendly viewing to enhance your experience! Plus, we'll be providing even more of the compelling content you've come to expect, delivered in a whole new way!

  Comments Subscribe to Personal Liberty News Feed Subscribe to Personal Liberty
 

Chilean Student Protests Snowballing Into Political Revolt

SANTIAGO, Chile, Aug. 25 (UPI) — Chilean student protests are snowballing into a political storm with President Sebastian Pinera finding himself right at the center of it and not liking it.

The millionaire president, who retains vast business interests but swears by arrangements aimed at avoiding conflicts of interests, faced widening revolt this week after increasing numbers of labor union members and teachers threw their support behind students.

Protesters’ representatives said their calls for general strikes across the country received greater attention than anticipated. As the protests grow, the lists of reforms demanded by those taking part in street marches and work stoppages are multiplying.

Rather than relent, Pinera said he was pained to see “those working so hard to paralyze Chile.”

A central union of workers added to general calls for education reforms a longer list of changes, which includes a redrafting of the constitution and statutes to remove what critics see as vestiges of the past military dictatorial regimes, notably the highly controversial rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet from 1973-90.

Pinera came to power in March 2010 after a democratic election that displaced hugely popular Michelle Bachelet. He pledged sweeping modernization and promised to bring Chileans into the 21st century with economic liberalization, state investment in gigantic development projects and transformation of a society bedeviled by sharp economic disparities.

Pinera saw his plans founder when an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country in February 2010, causing tens of millions of dollars of damage and destruction. Pinera led a swift economic and social regeneration but the work used up cash reserves he hoped to use for the promised march to progress.

Critics question Pinera’s style of government and claim he lacks communication skills necessary to engage with all strata of Chilean society.

The Unitary Central for Workers called for a nationwide strike for the second consecutive day Thursday and invited other unions to join the protest action.

Thousands of protesters barricaded roads and burned tires and debris as the strike went into full swing. Officials put the law enforcement agencies on alert to prevent a repetition of protests earlier in August that deteriorated into violent clashes between police and demonstrators.

Student protests against high tuition fees began about two months ago and focused on private academic institutions operating with impunity, alleged corruption and favoritism in the education system.

Both the Interior Ministry and law enforcement commanders faced angry charges that unarmed protesters received beatings, summary detentions and abusive treatment in police custody.

Protest leaders said they hoped to make the rallies “the biggest national strike of the last decade.” It is the first 48-hour national strike since the Pinochet dictatorship.

Government spokesman Andres Chadwick said police defused some protests and claimed the situation was normal beyond traffic disruptions.

Finance Minister Felipe Larrain called the protest illegal and warned of a damaging impact on Chile’s economic and social fabric.

The Chilean economy may be losing up to $200 million a day, officials said.

Analysts said Pinera’s decision to fill his Cabinet with technocrats and business experts might be well-intentioned but the lack of public savvy political negotiators appears to be alienating many Chileans. A Cabinet reshuffle in July, the second since Pinera assumed office last year, failed to defuse tensions.

The outcome of the protests is likely to hinder the president’s move to push through sweeping economic reforms, including plans to integrate Chile more comprehensively with the global markets.

Chile was badly hit by the 2008 economic crisis. Critics blamed the country’s connectivity with international markets for the problems faced after the economic downturn.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

Facebook Conversations

Join the Discussion:
View Comments to “Chilean Student Protests Snowballing Into Political Revolt”

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.

Is there news related to personal liberty happening in your area? Contact us at newstips@personalliberty.com

Bottom
close[X]

Sign Up For Personal Liberty Digest™!

PL Badge

Welcome to PersonalLiberty.com,
America's #1 Source for Libertarian News!

To join our group of freedom-loving individuals and to get alerts as well as late-breaking conservative news from Personal Liberty Digest™...

Privacy PolicyYou can opt out at any time. We protect your information like a mother hen. We will not sell or rent your email address to anyone for any reason.