Chile protests resume, demonstrations crimp economic growth
20 dead in clashes
The latest protest came after a short break in the weekslong wave of demonstrations in which 20 people have died in clashes amid looting and arson that forced the cancellation of two upcoming major international summits in what is considered one of Latin America's wealthiest countries.
Molotov cocktail attacks
Most demonstrators supporting the leaderless national movement marched peacefully, but some groups threw rocks and firebombs at riot police officers _ who responded with volleys of tear gas and water cannon blasts to try to disperse the crowds. The government said that at least six police officers were injured, including two who were attacked and set on fire with Molotov cocktails.
A leaderless movement
Before the marchers gathered, Finance Minister Ignacio Briones warned that negative economic impacts from the protests in the country that is the planet's leading copper producer forced officials to lower their 2019 economic growth prediction to between 2% and 2.2% from 2.6%.
His announcement was met with disdain by protesters who said they have not shared in Chile's economic prosperity.
A new constitution
From afar, Chile has been viewed a regional success story under democratically elected presidents on the left and right. A free-market consensus has driven growth up, poverty down and won Chile the Latin America's highest score on the United Nations Human Development Index, a blend of life expectancy, education and national income per capita.
And in 2010, Chile became the second Latin member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, after Mexico.
Pinera struggling to contain protest
President Sebastian Pinera is a billionaire and one of the country's richest men. Pinera has replaced the heads of several ministries with generally younger officials seen as more centrist and accessible and introduced a series of economic reforms, including increases in the minimum wage and lowest state pensions. But he has struggled to contain the protests and is facing calls to resign.
``The challenge for the movement is too keep the pressure on Pinera. As the government and the opposition are now negotiating reforms and Congress is advancing some of those reforms, there are high chances of the movement splitting into the more radical and the moderate wings,'' said Patricio Navia, a political scientist at New York University.