Chilean President Sebastian Pineda’s apology, backpedaling on the subway fare hike, and introduction of socio-economic reforms apparently has not satisfied the majority of citizens. On Friday afternoon more than 1 million Chileans took to the streets of Santiago in a massive demonstration calling for major social and political change in the South American country. Many of the protesters were also calling for Pineda’s resignation. His crackdown on the protests last weekend and earlier this week appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back in many citizens eyes. 19 people were killed, and over 3,000 arrested and detained. Friday’s demonstration was the largest Chile has seen since 1988 and brought Santiago to a complete standstill.
On Friday evening Pineda assured the people he’s heard their message. He tweeted: “The massive, joyful and peaceful march today, where Chileans ask for a more just and supportive Chile, opens great paths for the future and hope. We have all heard the message. We have all changed. With unity and help from God, we will walk the path to a Chile that’s better for everyone.”
What happens from here is anybody’s guess. The mood of the Chilean people right now is overwhelmingly hopeful, and positive after Friday’s demonstration. That may turn out to be short-lived though if the promised reforms do not come about, or if Pineda refuses to submit his resignation.
Chile is hardly the only country contending with a wave of protests demanding social, economic, and political change. What began in Hong Kong this summer is inspiring millions around the world to take to the streets in protest of real or perceived oppressive government policies, and actions.
I had wanted to discuss Canada a little more this weekend, but I think what’s happening in Chile, Iraq, Lebanon, Catalonia, and other places is worth a longer post on Sunday. I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.