Student movements and senior citizens in Chile wasted no time protesting the presidency of billionaire Sebastian Piñera as they quickly organized two separate demonstrations a day after he was sworn in calling on his administration to address their unresolved demands.
Senior citizens organized around the Social Table of the Elderly and the Citizen Movement the People Here denounced the “permanent mistreatment and abandonment” they endure, demanded subsidies in public transport for all retirees whether they have a pension or not, and reiterated the urgency of reforming Chile’s private pension system in place since 1980.
The Chilean pension system, created during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1990), is exclusively financed by workers’ contributions. According to pensioners they live in a precarious situation due to the low pensions they receive.
Piñera himself has been connected to the Pinochet regime and some members of his cabinet are known supporters of the former dictator.
During the third “Cane’s March” senior citizens marched to the president’s headquarters, the Palacio de la Moneda, in Santiago de Chile to deliver a letter with all their demands.
Students also demand reforms in the economic and social structure inherited from Pinochet’s dictatorship. Since 2011, during Piñera’s second year in office, they’ve organized massive demonstrations to demand public secondary and university education.
They said their march was an attempt to let President Piñera know what their position as a movement was. As a result several students were detained, including the leader of the Student Federation, Alfonso Mohor.
Student organizer, Sandra Beltrami, told a local newspaper “they’ve detained the president of FRCh (Chile’s Student Federation), they’ve also detained other student leaders of the Confech (Chile’s Student Confederation). This clearly cannot be. It can’t be that on day one [of Piñera's presidency] we are returning to the dictatorship, here we are mobilizing peacefully.”
Beltrami further warned her movement will continue to demonstrate.