The president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, has apologized Tuesday to Chileans for “lack of vision” and has announced the creation of a “social agenda” that includes, among other things, the rise in the minimum wage, following recent protests which started last week because of the rise in the price of the subway ticket.
“The different governments were not or were not able to recognize this situation in all its magnitude. This situation of inequality, of abuse, which has meant a genuine and authentic expression of millions of Chileans. I recognize this lack of vision and I apologize to my countrymen, “said the president in a press conference.
Piñera has also proposed to create a work table to “perfect and accelerate” different initiatives of a new “social agenda” and has informed that its main components will be proposed to Congress and then implemented “when the Government can do it”.
Among the measures included in the “social agenda” is the increase in the minimum wage from 300,000 to 350,000 pesos per month (from approximately 371 to 433 euros).
“In this way we will benefit workers with the lowest wages in our country and this benefit will be applied proportionally to workers under 18 or over 65,” said the president.
Piñera has also announced the creation of a “light price stabilization mechanism”, which will nullify the increase of 9.2 percent. “This increase is not going to occur and the rates will return to the ones they had in the first half,” he said.
As for pensions, the president has stressed that the basic solidarity pension will increase by 20 percent, something that will benefit 590,000 people, according to Piñera.
He also said that a bill to create a “catastrophic disease insurance” will be discussed with “urgency” whereby Chilean families facing such diseases “will know that any expenditure that exceeds that ceiling does not it's going to be financed by the family. ” He has also announced the creation of insurance that covers part of the expenses of Chilean medicines, as well as the reduction of the price of medicines throughout the country.
The new “social agenda” also includes greater equity among those with higher incomes and those with lower “modifying the municipal common fund so that high-income communes contribute more and make larger contributions than low-income communes.”
In addition, Piñera has stated that parliamentarians' diets will be reduced, as well as higher salaries in public administration.
On the protests that the country has experienced, the Chilean president has stressed that “the Government has reacted in compliance with its duty and using all the instruments granted by the Constitution and the law” in order to “safeguard public order, protect the security of all Chileans and ensure the freedoms and rights that we all Chileans have. ”
He has also assured that the situation in the country is improving and thanked the Armed Forces for their “valuable work”, as well as the collaboration of “many citizens.”
“We are working hard so that public transport, access to health, food, medicines, schools and other basic services can continue to normalize,” he said.
Protests broke out last week over the government's decision to raise the price of the subway ticket for the fourth time in recent months. The demonstrations have been radicalized over the weekend with damage to public transport and looting. At least 15 people have died. In this context, Piñera declared a state of emergency last Friday and imposed a curfew in Santiago and other cities.
In the press conference, Piñera has stressed that although some ask that the state of emergency and curfew end, “as president I must raise it when I have assurances that public order, tranquility and citizen security and the protection of both public and private assets are duly protected. ”