Chilean president replaces one-third of ministers to try to ease social crisis

The Chilean president, Sebastian Piñera, has replaced the ministers of the interior, economy and finance.

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On Monday, clashes were concentrated between the presidential palace of Moneda and Piazza Italia, which has become the epicenter of the protests since the beginning of the social protest. RODRIGO ABD / AP

Violent incidents between protesters and law enforcement broke out on Monday (October 28th) in central Santiago, hours after President Sebastian Piñera announced a government reshuffle. These clashes were concentrated between the presidential palace of Moneda and Piazza Italia, which became the epicenter of the demonstrations since the beginning of the social protest. Clashes have also been reported by local media in Valparaiso and Concepcion.

The head of the conservative state who announced Saturday a government reshuffle, in response to the historic mobilization against social inequalities that has gathered more than one million people in the country has separated from eight ministers, out of the 24 that account his government.

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Three challenged ministers replaced

The interior and security minister, also the president's chief of staff, Andrés Chadwick, who has been widely criticized since the start of the wave of social protest, has left the government. He is replaced by Gonzalo Blumel, 41, previously secretary-general of the presidency.

Finance Minister Felipe Larrain is also thanked. He had been criticized for declaring in September, announcing the good figures of inflation, that "The romantics" could even buy flowers, the price of the latter having fallen. Ignacio Briones, a 46-year-old liberal economist, takes charge of this portfolio.

Finally, Andrés Fontaine, Minister of the Economy, also leaves the government. He is replaced by the Undersecretary of Public Works, Lucas Palacio. Mr. Fontaine had aroused the ire of the population by advising Chileans to "Get up earlier" to avoid the metro ticket rate increase which specifically concerned rush hours. This increase of more than 3% has been the detonator of the most important social frond for more than thirty years in this Latin American country known for its stability.

"These measures do not solve all the problems, but this is an important first step"said Piñera from the presidential palace of Moneda. "Above all, they reflect the strong will of our Government and the strong commitment of all of us to a more just and socially just Chile", he added.

Chile has been plagued by a wave of unprecedented social protest since October 18, killing 20 people.

Read also President of Chile asks for "pardon" and proposes social measures to calm anger


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