News World More than 200,000 demand change at Chile rallies

More than 200,000 demand change at Chile rallies

Over 200,000 have taken to the streets of in cities across Chile calling for widespread reforms. Photo: AAP
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Hundreds of thousands of protesters have rallied in cities across Chile, calling for immediate and wide-ranging government reforms that included a higher minimum wage, more affordable medication and a new constitution.

Approximately 100 unions and social organisations representing teachers, students, miners, doctors and flight crews called for strikes and marches on Tuesday (local time).

The rally in Santiago was attended by around 80,000 people, according to the government. Another 100,000 people were thought to have taken to the streets of the central Chilean city of Concepcion, while another 50,000 marched in the southern port city of Puerto Montt.

President Sebastian Pinera’s government vowed on Monday (local time) that it would move forward with a plan to rewrite the country’s dictatorship-era constitution.

The conservative governing parties are reluctant to convene a constituent assembly, as demanded by protesters. Instead, they want a debate in the existing parliament, where a broad consensus among the parties would be required to adopt a new constitution.

Chile’s political unrest, in addition to causing property damage and multiple acts of looting, has taken its toll on the economy.

The government revised its growth forecast for the current year to two per cent from 2.6 per cent, and, at 783 pesos to the US dollar, the Chilean currency on Tuesday reached its lowest value since 1990. Prior to the crisis, the exchange rate stood at 710 pesos to the dollar.