TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera announced new measures aimed at resolving one of the country’s worst political crisis in years following weeks of protests and looting.
In a televised speech on Tuesday, Pinera promised an immediate 20 percent increase in government-subsidized pensions, a guaranteed wage of $480, reduction in prices of medicines for the poor, and the stabilization of electricity costs.
He also announced a new tax bracket of 40 percent for those earning more than $11,000 a month, as well as looking to cut the wages of lawmakers and public officials, Al Jazeera reported.
Pinera also took the opportunity and asked for forgiveness for the past and current governments that failed to address the deep inequalities that are afflicting Latin America’s fifth largest economy.
“The people have delivered a clear message,” Pinera said.
“It’s true that these problems didn’t appear in the last couple of days. They have been accumulating for decades, but it’s also true that the governments were not able to acknowledge the situation in its complete magnitude.
“I recognize this lack of vision, and I apologies to my countrymen,” he added.
Pinera said he hoped to turn recent violent protests in an “opportunity” for Chile “to make up for lost time”.
Claudia Mix, a congresswoman, dismissed Pinera comments on Twitter, saying that “Chile needed a new social pact with greater political and social democracy”.
Cristobal Bellolio, a political commentator based at Santiago’s University of Adolo Ibanez, said the pledges were “a step in the right direction” but added he did not know “if it’s enough”.
At least 15 people have been killed and more than 5,000 arrested in protests that started in the wake of an increase in metro fares, prompting a weekend of riots, looting of businesses and the declaration of a state of emergency by Pinera across 10 cities.
Further protests were expected on Wednesday, along with a general strike called in solidarity with the demonstrations that will include the union of top copper miner Codelco.
In an open letter to Pinera, rights group Amnesty International said it was concerned over human-rights violations and limitations imposed by the military during city-wide evening lockdowns.
“The sole fact that some groups or people have committed acts of violence in a protest does not authorize security forces to dissolve them with the use of force,” said Erika Guevara, the group’s Americas director.