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"Chile Needs Changes"

#ChileNeedsChanges #ChileWokeUp these are some of the twitter hashtags that have been trending this past couple of days. The country has captured the attention of various foreign media news agencies due to the emergence of a social movement not seen in years in the country.

Last week students began protesting because of a new raise on the train fair in Santiago, Chile. The call was for everyone to evade paying the train fare, massive evasions were held for days. Finally, Friday, October 18, 2019, the subway company decided to close down all stations approximately at 3 – 5 pm all stations were shut down, turning Santiago into chaos. The Santiago subway service transports close to three million people daily, the closing of stations generated a collapse on the surface.

Buses were not enough to transport the number of people on the streets, and many had to walk long distances to go home. Suddenly something happened that surprised many. After six in the afternoon, Santiago began to enter in a chaotic environment. Hundreds of people began to join the student manifestations; in the streets of Santiago, more and more people joined by banging wooden spoons and cooking pans in the streets in signs of discontent. No one thought that around 9 pm on Friday, unknown people would start burning subway stations in different parts of the capital.

Initially, I saw many foreign media not understand why this is happening in Chile; why is there so much dislike of a 30 CLP hike in the subway fare. Unfortunately, we are a country known for being one if not the most stable in Latin America were only a couple of days ago, the president of Chile Sebastian Piñera said:

"Argentina and Paraguay are in recession, Mexico and Brazil are stagnant, Peru and Ecuador in a deep political crisis and in this context, Chile seems an oasis because we have a stable democracy, the economy is growing, we are creating jobs, we are improving wages, and we are maintaining the macroeconomic balance, "Piñera said in conversation with the British newspaper Financial Times

How can we be an Oasis but yet there is evident unhappiness in the population?

The common feeling of people during these manifestations is inequality in the country, such as minimum wage, education, health, pension system.

Our pension system, for example, works like this:

“The mandatory individual capitalization system is that all workers must deposit a percentage of their salary or income in a personal account with a Pension Fund Administrator (AFP) each month. These resources are intended to finance the future pension that the person will receive at the retirement stage. The pension savings are made by means of the contribution or deposit in an AFP account of an amount equivalent to 10% of the remuneration or taxable income of the worker, plus another percentage corresponding to the commission charged by the AFP for managing that account and an additional percentage to access Disability and Survival Insurance (SIS).”

Chileans are not able to decide on their own money, a policy imposed by our government.

Anyone that comes to Chile and takes a look around the different boroughs can see how evident the social class in the country.

The minimum wage in Chile: CLP 301.000 – USD 415,13 (monthly)

Basic Pensions: CLP 107.304 – USD 148,07 (monthly)

Train fair: CLP 750 – USD 1,03

New Train Fair: CLP 830 – USD 1,15

Collage examples Annually:

Medicine CLP 5.962.232 – USD 8227,18

Graphic Design CLP 2.774.963 – USD 3829,12

These numbers will reflect on how hard it is for poor or middle-class families have when it comes to the quality of life and the opportunities that these families have. The cost of living in the country goes up, food, consumption. Rent in an apartment in a borough of lower resources has an approximate value of USD 400; it is a matter of imagining the reality of a family in Chile.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean:

“CEPAL describes Chile as an unequal country: 1% concentrates 26.5% of the wealth

. The agency reported that 66.5% gathers only 2.1% of the capital.”

This social outbreak is something that has not been seen in Chile since the 70s and 80s, on Friday the government decided to declare a state of exception, taking the military to the streets of different parts of the country and leaving the country in curfew. On the other hand, peaceful demonstrations have been seen, but the people reject the call to the military. The country situation has also led many opportunists to loot commercial premises or reports of some houses generating panic in the city. Many people began to panic, believing that there could be a shortage of food, despite the call to calm and ensure that this supply problem does not exist.

During these days, the government has lowered the rise of the subway and proposes a project that regulates it. Also, the reduction of the working day to 40 hours was approved, raising the minimum salary to USD 482.96 today; also, the decline of the pay of parliamentarians was approved. The government proposes a new social agenda. However, Chileans do not seem to give truce and suggest profound changes.

Huge lines have been seen outside of banks, or many of them closed, few ATMs, etc. Due to early closing and the burning of some makes me reflect on our monetary system. If something happens, it is complicated to have cash, and arbitrary decisions can be made from these private companies that are holding our money. In the world of cryptocurrency, this wouldn’t be a problem. Having complete ownership of our money is crucial. People in Chile have lost faith in government institutions, banks, companies; because they have been involved in collusions or decisions that have been made under conflicts of interest.

Agitated days for Chile, among project approvals, misuse of force, deaths by military forces. Eight days have passed, and the demonstrations continue even more strongly, proving to be a transversal social movement without political colors. We all hope Chile will find a way to give real solutions to social demands and a more fair society than the one that exists today. If you think something like this can’t happen in your country, think again and don’t underestimate political situations. Cryptocurrency can be a part of that change and change to our monetary system. Just remember a few days ago, we were called the OASIS of Latin America.

By: Carolina Pérez

Twitter: @carolinaninap

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