Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera vowed to increase the basic pension by
20% and proposed a law that would see the state cover the costs of expensive
medical treatments after days of violent protests.
The protests were sparked by a rise in subway prices but grew into something
bigger as thousands took to the streets over austerity and inequality.
Fifteen deaths have been reported during protests as more than 5,000 were detained.
Speaking from the presidential palace in the capital Santiago, Sebastian
Piñera said he had received a clear message from Chileans.
He said he hoped to turn recent violent protests into an
“opportunity” for Chile “to make up for lost time, pick up the
pace and take concrete and urgent steps”.
The president vowed to increase the minimum wage as well as introducing a
new higher tax bracket. Electricity rates will also be cut under the reform
People began to protest in Santiago in the wake of an increase in subway fares. High school pupils and university students called on passengers to evade fares by jumping over the turnstiles. The rise in subway prices has since been overturned.
Michelle Bachelet has won Chilean presidential election for a second time, defeating her run-off rival Evelyn Matthei by a wide margin.
With nearly 90% of the vote counted, leftist Michelle Bachelet had 62% to 38% for Evelyn Matthei, a former minister from the ruling centre-right coalition.
Michelle Bachelet first served as president between 2006 and 2010, after which she was obliged by electoral laws to stand down.
She narrowly missed out on outright victory in the first round last month.
“I am happy with the result and victory and I shall be a president for everyone in Chile,” Michelle Bachelet, 62, said as she received a congratulatory telephone call from outgoing President Sebastian Pinera, according to Reuters.
At a speech to supporters, Michelle Bachelet said: “I am proud to be your president-elect today. I am proud of the country we’ve built but I am even more proud of the country we will build.”
Michelle Bachelet has won Chilean presidential election for a second time, defeating her run-off rival Evelyn Matthei by a wide margin
She is now set to become the first leader in Chile to serve two terms since the military rule of General Augusto Pinochet in 1973 to 1990.
Upon hearing the news, her supporters have been celebrating on the streets by waving flags and sounding car horns in the capital Santiago.
“It is clear at this point. She won. And we congratulate her. Later on, I will go speak with her personally,” Evelyn Matthei, 60, told reporters.
Official results of Sunday’s run-off are expected soon. Turnout appears to have been lower than expected.
A pediatrician by training, Michelle Bachelet won 47% of the vote in the first round on November 17. Evelyn Matthei secured 25%.
Michelle Bachelet leads an alliance of her Socialist Party, Christian Democrats and Communists and has campaigned on policies designed to reduce the gap between rich and poor.
Chile is one of the richest countries in Latin America, but millions have staged protests over the past few years to push for a wider distribution of wealth and better education.
Michelle Bachelet wants to increase taxes to offer free university education and reform political and economic structures dating from the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Evelyn Matthei, 60, entered the race after two candidates of the centre-right alliance resigned earlier this year – one for alleged financial irregularities, the other one after struggling with depression. She has called for a continuation of the policies of outgoing President Sebastian Pinera, asserting that Chileans are “better off” now than when he came to power four years ago.
Leaders from Latin America and beyond are gathering in Caracas for the state funeral of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez.
After the funeral, Hugo Chavez’s body will be taken to a military museum to lie in state for another seven days.
More than two million mourners have already filed past his body at a military academy.
Hugo Chavez’s body is to be embalmed and placed on permanent display, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro says.
Later on Friday, Nicolas Maduro is due to be sworn in as acting president. As such, he must call elections within 30 days.
Hugo Chavez, who led Venezuela for 14 years, died on Tuesday aged 58 after a long battle with cancer.
More than 30 heads of state are expected to attend Friday’s funeral including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Cuban President Raul Castro and Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has praised Hugo Chavez as a “martyr” and a “wise and revolutionary leader”.
Leaders from Latin America and beyond are gathering in Caracas for the state funeral of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez
Meanwhile, President Sebastian Pinera of Chile arrived at Simon Bolivar airport in Caracas early on Friday, telling reporters that the thoughts of Chile were with Venezuela at a difficult time.
US Congressman Gregory Meeks and former Congressman William Delahunt will represent the United States at the funeral of Hugo Chavez, a fierce critic of Washington.
Nicolas Maduro said that Hugo Chavez’s body would be embalmed “like Lenin and Mao Zedong”, and put on display for at least another seven days.
The body will be moved to the Caracas military museum where in 1992 Hugo Chavez – as an army officer – was captured after leading a failed coup.
Nicolas Maduro said the building would be converted into a new “museum of the revolution”.
Hugo Chavez’s supporters want him eventually interred in Venezuela’s national Pantheon alongside Simon Bolivar, the 19th Century independence leader the late president claimed as his political inspiration.
However, Venezuela’s constitution says people can only be admitted to the Pantheon 25 years after their death.
Hugo Chavez named Nicolas Maduro as his preferred successor following the recurrence of his cancer.
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