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Close to a million protesters demand Chile president’s resignation

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by Giovanna FLEITAS / Paula Bustamante

Almost a million people took to the streets of Santiago for what was believed to be Chile’s largest-ever march on Friday, demanding economic reforms and the resignation of President Sebastian Pinera following a week of deadly protests.

Demonstrators carrying indigenous and national flags sang popular resistance songs from the 1973-90 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship era as the country, usually seen as one of the most stable in Latin America, grapples with its worst violence in decades.

Santiago’s governor Karla Rubilar described it as “a historic day” on Twitter, praising “a peaceful march of nearly a million people representing the dream of a new Chile.

For the last week, Chileans’ pent-up anger has spilled over in the form of protests against a socio-economic structure that many feel has left them by the wayside, with low wages and pensions, costly health care and education, and a big gap between rich and poor.

Pinera, a conservative billionaire, apologized this week for failing to anticipate the outbreak of social unrest and announced a raft of measures designed to placate people, such as increases in minimum pensions and wages.

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