Chile’s president to meet opposition amid protests

BUENOS AIRES

Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera said late Monday he will meet political party leaders to seek a solution to problems that beset the country amid demonstrations against a metro price hike that turned violent.

Addressing a news conference at the La Moneda government palace, Pinera said: “I will meet opposition leaders to find a solution, hopefully progress will be made.”

On Monday, hundreds of protesters stormed metro stations in Santiago, with protests turning violent after security forces used force against the demonstrators jumping over turnstiles without paying the fare.

Police responded with tear gas after protesters broke turnstiles and windows at some metro stations.

“Today, we are working on a variety of issues, such as improving the conditions of pension, reducing drug prices and improving healthcare,” Pinera added.

A 15-day state of emergency was declared on Saturday.

The number of declared emergency zones has been growing since protests began against price hikes, despite the government reversing the rise.

In addition to the Metropolitan Region, home to some 7 million people, emergency was also declared in the cities of Valparaiso, Concepcion, Rancagua, Coquimbo and La Serena, and Antofagasta.

“We are at war against a powerful enemy, one willing to use violence without bounds,” Pinera said in a live Twitter broadcast late Sunday.

“Tomorrow we will have a difficult day,” he added, saying the “rioters” have a degree of organization logistics typical of a criminal organization.

Stressing that it is not time for ambiguity, Pinera called on Chileans to unite against violence and delinquency.
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