Santiago, Chile: State of emergency decreed due to manifestations for the cost of living

Written by Karen Vergara Sánchez, journalist and member of @AmarantaONG

Translated by the lawyer Natalia Bórquez and the journalist Cecilia Ananías, members of @AmarantaONG.

Original version in Spanish in Marcha.Org.Ar

The protests started with more strength on Tuesday 15. Dozens of young students between 13 and 17 years planned mass evasions in the Santiago Metro, in response to the increase in the price of the ticket and also manifesting a discontent, shared by the population, which reveals the precariousness of life and inequality in the country.

Chile, which in 2016, according to World Bank studies, became the seventh most unequal country of the world, was incubating a general unease that also responds to the increase of unemployment and repressive policies of President Sebastián Piñera and his cabinet, which has constant controversial statements that this week finally ended up exhausting the patience of the inhabitants of Santiago.

This is the case of the Minister of Economic Affairs of Chile, Juan Andrés Fontaine, who expressed to the media, on October 7, that “those who gets up early, will be helped”. With this phrase, he was urging people to get up before 7 in the morning, so they could take transport before the time of higher demand, which is more expensive. This statement ignores the fact that those who live in the periphery already get up at 5 or 6 in the morning, to travel around 3 hours to work

In addition, the Minister of Finance of Chile, Felipe Larraín, responded to the increase of the cost of living saying «well, those who want to give flowers this month, the flowers price have fallen 3.6%,» unleashing the outrage of the citizens. Days before his call to “pray” to revive the economy draw also the attention.

On the other hand, the broad national approval of the project who seeks to decrease the workday from 45 to 40 hours per week, raised by the deputy Camila Vallejo, had demonstrated the weariness that was beginning at home. Traditional television and the media were filled with shameful surveys of businessmen and government politicians pointing out their absolute rejection of the idea. Today, Chile is the fifth least productive country according to figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and one with the longest working hours. Seguir leyendo