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Chile protests: Pinera announces social assistance package



  Demonstrator wearing mask and facing fire Copyright
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More than 5000 people have been detained since the protests began

Chilean President Sebastian Pignera announces reforms aimed at ending days of violent protest.

He promised to increase the basic pension by 20% and proposed a law under which the state would cover the cost of expensive medical treatments.

The protests were triggered by rising subway prices, but grew into something bigger as thousands took to the streets due to rigor and inequality.

Fifteen people were killed and more than 5,000 were detained.

Speaking at the Presidential Palace in Santiago, Mr. Pinera stated that he had received a clear message from the Chileans.

Mr Pinera said he hoped to turn the latest violent protests into an "opportunity" for Chile "to make up for lost time, to pick up the pace and take concrete and urgent steps".

He promised to increase the minimum wage as well as introduce a new higher tax bracket. Electricity prices will also be reduced under the reform plan.

Protests began in the capital, Santiago, after the increase in metro tariffs. High school students and students urged passengers to escape from fares by skipping turnstiles. The rise in subway prices has since reversed.

Protests quickly turned into mass demonstrations in several cities as Chileans sought action to raise living costs and low wages.

Chile is one of the most prosperous countries in the region, but has high levels of inequality.

Ten cities were placed in a state of emergency and under night curfew. There were outbreaks of robberies and arson.

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Media caption Protests and security forces collided in Santiago

Many schools and stores remained closed Tuesday in both Santiago and other cities , and long queues formed at gas stations. ,

In Santiago, riots damaged the city's metro system with repairs worth at least $ 200 million (1

55 million pounds). The subway is still only partially working due to damage.

The response of the security forces was criticized as severe and on Tuesday a government spokesman tweeted [in Spanish] that "the armed forces participated in four of the 15 deaths" that occurred after the protests

One of those killed is a 22-year-old man who is reported to have been hit by a military truck in the southern city of Talcahuano.


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