President Pinera Says Chile ‘at War,’ Calls on People to Choose Sides – by Laura Millan Lombrana and Sebastian Boyd (Yahoo/Bloomberg News – October 21, 2019)

(Bloomberg) — Thousands of protesters gathered in Chilean city squares on Monday after a weekend marked by images of soldiers and police clashing with demonstrators and shooting at masked looters. The Chilean peso and local shares slumped.

Chile is enduring a fourth day of rioting and protests in the worst social unrest since the country returned to democracy in the late 1980s to become Latin America’s most prosperous nation.

Eleven people have died and 1,500 have been arrested in a wave of arson attacks, looting and riots that have brought cities to a near standstill. President Sebastian Pinera declared a state of emergency Friday and called on the army to restore order.

The scenes are difficult to reconcile with the country’s image as one of the region’s most economically stable and an emerging-market poster child. What began as protests against subway-fair increases quickly morphed into outpourings of discontent over income equality, pensions, health and education.

“It’s like a pressure cooker,” said Claudio Fuentes, a political science professor at Diego Portales University in Santiago. “This is a series of parallel agendas that have been building for decades and exploded with the rise in transport fares.”

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