Chile has been gripped by violent protests, with more and more people flooding the streets of Santiago to vent their anger over the rising living costs and unequal economic opportunities.
The protests, triggered by the government’s decision to raise metro ticket prices, have already claimed 18 lives – putting Chile’s reputation as a ‘stable country’ in jeopardy.
Reports say that Santiago has been under curfew for the past four days, and protestors are now calling for the resignation of President Sebastián Piñera.
Over the past five days, many shops and businesses were looted and set on fire.
The President has agreed to shelve his plans to raise ticket prices, but it seems to have done little to quell the unrest. The protestors, on the other hand, are demanding an increase in wages as well as pension and healthcare benefits.
Shocked by the violence, Piñera addressed the nation on Tuesday, announcing a package of reforms, which included a minimum wage, an increase in the state pension and the stabilization of the costs of electricity.
Despite regarded as a wealthy nation, Chile is known for inequality. Even the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has repeatedly expressed concerns about the widening gulf between the rich and poor in the country.
In its recent report, the OECD had urged the government to provide skill training to its young citizens for improving their ability to access high-quality jobs, while appreciating its efforts to improve the economy.
“Chile is in fine economic health, but the triple challenge of how to raise productivity, improve global competitiveness and reduce inequality remains,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, presenting the survey in Santiago last year.