Why Chile Is Rising Up


“The youth discovered the power they have to make demands.”

Hundreds of thousands in Chile have taken to the streets to protest just about everything: low wages, the country’s rising cost of living, poor healthcare, and a widely criticized private pension system. In short: decades of inequality.

The protests have been raging for weeks, and have gotten violent. At least 20 people have died, some at the hands of state forces and during looting.

On Monday, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera reshuffled a third of his cabinet. But people continued to take to the streets.

“The youth discovered the power they have to make demands,” Mauricio Díaz, the founder of art and culture collective New Latin Wave, said. “But at the same time, sadly, they encountered the power of a government that decides to use their military force against them.”

Military and police forces have arrested more than 2,400 people since protests started — including 200 minors — and 535 people have been injured, according to Chile’s human rights commission, INDH. The U.N. says it’ll investigate allegations of human rights violations in the country.

“We have a feeling there may be more [deaths,] Paz López, a professor at Universidad Diego Portales, said. “There are people who have been tortured. There are people arrested and missing, who we still don’t know their whereabouts.”

Piñera proposed social reform including raising the income tax for the wealthy, boosting pensions and introducing a minimum guaranteed monthly income of 350,000 pesos, around 480 dollars.

But protestors say that’s not enough, and are calling for Piñera to resign.