Thousands protest to maintain pressure on Chile government

Santiago (AFP) –


Dressed in black, marching silently and raising one fist, around a thousand women on Friday demanded justice for those killed and injured during the last two weeks of social unrest in Chile.

Their march started off a day of demonstrations that expanded later as tens of thousands of people answered social media calls to match last Friday's huge protest that attracted more than a million people.

"Justice; truth; no to impunity," chanted the women marchers in front of the presidential palace in central Santiago, as their silent protest burst to life.

They held up signs paying tribute to the 20 people killed and more than 1,300 injured during the protests, according to statistics provided by the national human rights institute (INDH.)

Protesters stood in silence holding one fist aloft in front of impassive police guarding the presidential palace on a day in which many were celebrating the Christian festival of All Saints Day.

"We're not going to back down until the government answers us about the deaths. We feel betrayed by this government," Marco, a 22-year-old student, told AFP.

In the central Plaza Italia square, which has been the epicenter of the protest movement these last two weeks -- thousands of people waved Chilean and Mapuche indigenous flags.

Protesters are angry about low salaries and pensions, poor public health care and education, and a yawning gap between rich and poor in Latin America's wealthiest country on a per capita basis.

The unrest began two weeks ago with protests against a rise in transport tickets and other austerity measures descended into vandalism, looting, and clashes between demonstrators and police.

Many protesters have demanded the resignation of billionaire President Sebastian Pinera.

He's announced a series of social measures and a cabinet reshuffle to try to appease the demonstrators, but to no avail.

Chile's image took a hit on Wednesday when the government said it was pulling out of hosting the APEC economic summit in November and the December COP climate conference.

It said it had no choice but to abandon the summits for security reasons.