Chilean President Pinera calls for cabinet reshuffle amid protests

Chilean President Pinera calls for cabinet reshuffle amid protests

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera called for a major cabinet reshuffle on Saturday in a bid to quell a week of mass protests against inequality that have rocked the South American nation.

His announcement follows a peaceful rally late Friday that saw one million Chileans flood the streets to call for reforms to the country┬┤s economic model.

“I have put all my ministers on notice in order to restructure my cabinet to confront these new demands,” Pinera told reporters from the La Moneda presidential palace.

Protests in Chile began over a hike in subway fares more than a week ago but boiled into riots that have killed at least 17 people, resulted in more than 7,000 arrests and caused more than $1.4 billion of losses to Chilean businesses.

Pinera earlier in the week had declared a state of emergency across much of Chile, placing the military in charge of security in Santiago and other cities and saying the country was “at war” against vandals.

The move sparked outrage among many in Chile, who said his words and actions harkened back to the grim era of military rule under dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Speaking with reporters Saturday morning, Pinera said he would soon lift the state of emergency Sunday evening as violence and looting has begun to subside. Pinera this week called for a new “social pact,” promising to boost the minimum wage and pensions, ditch fare hikes on public transportation and fix the country’s ailing health care system