Embattled Chile president reshuffles one third of cabinet

Santiago (AFP) –


Chilean President Sebastian Pinera unveiled a major cabinet reshuffle on Monday as he battles to find a response to 10 days of street protests that have left at least 20 people dead.

Pinera replaced eight ministers -- a third of his cabinet -- including the highly unpopular Interior Minister Andres Chadwick, replacing him with Gonzalo Blumel.

Among those that survived the cull was Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera.

The announcement came amid protests outside the presidential palace in central Santiago.

Finance Minister Felipe Larrain was replaced by liberal economist Ignacio Briones. Larrain was criticized last month for recommending that "romantics" buy flowers after announcing that inflation hadn't increased and flowers were even cheaper.

Former Santiago governor Karla Rubilar, who was praised for her sympathetic reaction to protesters, has been made minister for the general secretariat of the government.

Protesters have called for Pinera to resign as anger over economic and social inequality led to 10 days of the worst civil unrest in decades.

Pinera asked his entire cabinet to resign on Sunday. He had already reshuffled it twice in the previous 15 months.

Last week he offered a raft of measures aimed at calming the public ire, including a hike in the minimum wage and pensions, some reductions in health care costs, and a streamlining of parliament.