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Special Session Of Senate Allows President To Lower Subway Fares in Chile



Riots at Santiago, Chile, city centre

After Iraq and Lebanon, it is Chile that has gone into uproar over bad governance and protesters became violent and torched garment factories out of sheer rage. In another incident three persons have lost their lives as angry protesters attacked a supermarket in the Santiago.

According to Wall Street Journal, people on the streets have expressed man reasons for the social outbreak. The tip of the iceberg was the increase in subway fares. But many also spelled out other reasons like growing dissatisfaction with the high cost of living, pensions that pay poorly and a disconnect with the President Sebastián Piñera’s center-right government.

While Piñera made a public statement that the subway fares will not be increased, he has also vocalized that “peaceful protests are welcome but violence is evil.” The public outrage has been responded with tear gas, police attack and armored military vehicles, something which has reinstated lack of compassion and understanding on the part of the Piñera.

A state of emergency was declared in the capital and five provinces along with curfews in Santiago and Concepcion, some 300 miles to the south of the capital, as authorities tried to control the unrest that led to hundreds of arrests and to at least 72 police officers being injured, Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick said at a news conference.

Protesters are known to have also vandalized subway stations in Santiago’s large and modern metro system and set fire to buses, a subway train and part of the headquarters of Enel Chile, the local subsidiary of the Italian energy company.

Over the weekend, the unrest that began to gather momentum last week spread from this capital of 6.7 million to the cities of Valparaiso on the Pacific coast and Concepcion. Flights were delayed or canceled at Santiago’s international airport, and hundreds of passengers spent the night sleeping on the floor. The President cannot alter if a law has passed for increase in subway fare. But mass protests have led the country’s lawmakers to make an exception and grant power to the President to do so. Usually, a panel of transportation experts calculates and sets metro price increases based on various parameters, from the cost of fuel to the consumer-price index and value of equipment. But the lower house of congress sat for an ‘exceptional’ session where lawmakers approved a law that gives the president the power to reduce the fare. However, the senates approval is awaited.

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