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Chile protests flare back up as reforms fall short

Residents in Santiago and other cities throughout Chile once again awoke on Wednesday (October 30) to tear gas lingering in the air and the aftermath of violent protests that have hobbled the metro system.

Commuters made their way amidst remnants of burnt barricades, broken glass and shop owners cleaning up the pieces. 

On Tuesday (October 29), protesters poured in by the thousands into plazas and streets, shutting down main boulevards in a sign that government promises of reform continued to fall short.

Police in armoured trucks watched over the gathering masses and used tear gas to disperse them. 

President Sebastian Pinera’s newly appointed spokeswoman Karla Rubilar condemned the previous night’s mayhem, saying it did not reflect the wishes of the majority. 

Days earlier, more than a million Chileans marched peacefully against inequality in Santiago, the largest protest since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990. 

The continuing unrest in Chile follows a week of riots, arson and protests over inequality that have resulted in at least 18 dead and 7,000 arrested, prosecutors said. Chilean businesses lost more than $1.4 billion. The city’s metro suffered nearly $400 million in damages.

Protests over a hike in metro fares spun out of control earlier this month, prompting Pinera to pledge sweeping social and economic reforms, and to upend his cabinet. 

Chile, the world’s top copper producer, has long boasted one of Latin America’s most prosperous free-market economies. A plummeting copper price and global trade tensions, however, have dragged on the export-dependent economy and exposed entrenched inequality.

(Production: Sergio Viedma, Esteban Medel, Herbert Villarraga, Jorge Vega)

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