Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said on Tuesday that he had submitted a proposal to offer aid to poor households, which comes amid ongoing anti-government protests.
The proposal, a bill of 124 U.S. dollars per month in cash assistance to 1.3 million families, would cost the country some 185 million dollars in subsidies.
The bill is one of the latest in a string of concessions made by Pinera's conservative government in an effort to placate the protests, which have been ongoing for more than a month and a half.
The measure "represents major relief, some help at a time when so many Chilean families need it," Pinera said at a public event.
Pinera highlighted a plan announced on Monday to reactivate the economy by investing 5.5 billion dollars to promote micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses and create 100,000 more jobs.
His government has also pledged to raise pensions by 50 percent, establish a guaranteed minimum wage, provide catastrophic health insurance, lower the cost of medication, and put a freeze or lower the cost of services such as electricity, water and public transit.
Pinera called on disaffected Chileans "to once and for all put an end to the violence, the fires, the looting, so our economy can start up."
Police officers pursuing fleeing suspects clashed with people at a street party in a Sao Paulo slum, setting off a stampede in which nine people died, Brazilian officials said Sunday.
The state's security agency said police were carrying out an operation when they were attacked by two men on a motorcycle and officers gave chase amid gunfire. The suspects fled into the street party attended by thousands of people in the Paraisopolis district.
Police spokesman Emerson Massera told Globo news that officers were met with rocks and bottles even as the suspects continued firing, and police responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas.
People then tried to flee down a narrow street and some were trampled, with nine pronounced dead at a hospital, according to police. Seven others were treated for injuries.
"The criminals used the people who were at the dance as human shields to block the police chase," Massera said.
The suspects escaped.
The presidential candidate for Uruguay's governing coalition has conceded defeat after a second round of voting.
The announcement Thursday means that Luis Lacalle Pou of the National Party will become Uruguay's next president, ending 15 years of left-leaning government in the South American country.
Lacalle Pou, a center-right candidate, defeated Daniel Martínez of the governing Broad Front coalition in the election Sunday.
Martínez acknowledged that the final tally of votes was still underway, but he said results released so far show that he was defeated. He says he plans to meet President-elect Lacalle Pou on Friday.
Lacalle Pou, a 46-year-old lawyer and a former senator, is the son of former President Luis Alberto Lacalle and his mother was a senator.
Colombians unhappy with President Iván Duque's response to nearly a week of boisterous protests over everything from job losses to shark hunting took to the streets again Wednesday in a continuing tide of unrest.
The daily protests jolting the South American country proclaim a wide array of complaints but echo one refrain: an opposition to a government that many believe only looks after the most privileged citizens.
"We feel defenseless to everything," Lucy Rosales, 60, a pensioner in Bogota. "We don't feel like we have a voice that represents us. It's many things that they allowed to accumulate."
Several thousand people blowing whistles and waving Colombian flags began marching through streets in cities around the nation by midday.
The new demonstration came a day after Duque's attempt to quell the discontent by holding talks with a protest steering group hit a snag: Members of the National Strike Committee refused to join broader talks the president has called with all social sectors, fearing their demands would be diluted. That has created new uncertainty about how long the already costly protests might drag on.
"The government has not been able to learn from the Chilean and Ecuadorian experiences," said Jorge Restrepo, an economics professor, referring to recent mass demonstrations in both of those countries. "It has made very many mistakes."
The steering committee presented a 13-point list of demands Tuesday that asks Duque to withdraw or refrain from tax, labor and pension law changes that are either before the legislature or rumored to be in development. The labor and student leaders also want Duque to review free-trade agreements, eliminate a riot police unit accused in the death of an 18-year-old student protester and fully implement the nation's historic peace accord with leftist rebels.
Organizers dismissed Duque's calls to join his "National Conversation" that would run through March — an initiative that appears to take a page from French President Emmanuel Macron, who opened a "Great National Debate" to involve citizens in drafting reforms after months of angry protests in that country.
"It's a monologue between the government and its allies," said Diógenes Orjuela, president of the Central Workers Union, one of the main forces behind the National Strike Committee.
Several protesters said they agreed with the Strike Committee's decision to shun Duque's dialogue.
"Colombia is used to being lied to," said Ana Maria Moya, a student. "One learns not to trust in words."
It remains unclear to what extent the Strike Committee represents protesters in what has become a largely citizen-driven outpouring of discontent. An invitation to gather in a park or bang pots and pans quickly goes viral on WhatsApp and soon hundreds fill neighborhoods with the angry sound of clanging metal and chants like "Get out Duque!"
"We're tired," Moya said. "We're saying, 'No more.'"
Various leaders have tried to capitalize on the momentum, but none yet has emerged as the unequivocal voice of the protesters.
"There is a contest over the ownership of the protesters," Restrepo said. "I see students get out in the streets because they need more social mobility, higher levels of income, more opportunities at least in employment. But then the ones that claim they represent those students in the streets are the unions."
Colombia is widely considered in need of labor and pension reform. Few retirees currently have access to pensions, with the lowest-income earners the least likely to get one. Labor laws make it difficult to hire new employees. Even as the nation's economy grows at a healthy 3.3%, unemployment has risen to nearly 11%.
"I would characterize the demands of the National Strike Committee as highly conservative, regressive and counter-reformist demands," Restrepo said.
Orjuela, a former schoolteacher who participated in Colombia's last major strike, in 1977, said protest organizers would be willing to support a pension reform as long as it involves a state and not a private-run system.
Even as they parse out the details, the committee's general message decrying Duque has resonated widely, tapping into the myriad frustrations of Colombians.
An estimated 250,000 Colombians marched last Thursday in one of the nation's biggest demonstrations in recent decades. The protests have been smaller in the days since, but are still drawing thousands each day.
For some it is big-picture issues like not fully implementing peace accords, endemic corruption and persistent economic inequality. For others it is small indignities, like relatively pricey public transportation that is also slow and overcrowded.
One unusual sight in the protests has been that of giant plastic sharks hoisted by at least one protester denouncing a government decision allowing a certain amount of shark fishing.
"It's like all the groups are feeding off each other," said Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, a human rights advocate with the Washington Office on Latin America.
Few expected that such a mixed bag of motivations could generate a prolonged protest, though many now think it could continue, exacting both an economic and human toll. Thus far, four people have died, hundreds have been injured and millions of dollars have been lost from businesses shuttering during demonstrations.
The patience of some Colombians is beginning to wear thin.
Julio Contreras, a deliveryman who was tear gassed while trying to get 20 kilos (44 pounds) of chicken to restaurants, said he is ready for the protests to be done.
"They're not letting us work," he said. "The students should be in the universities and not affecting us."
Bolivia's interim government is accusing ousted leftist President Evo Morales of terrorism and sedition.
Acting Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said on Friday the complaint relates to a video in which Morales is supposedly heard coordinating blockades during street protests in Bolivia. Murillo said the government is seeking a maximum penalty, which is between 15 and 20 years in prison.
Morales has previously said the video is a "montage."
Bolivia has been in upheaval since Morales proclaimed himself the winner of an Oct. 20 election despite widespread protests over allegations of electoral fraud. Thirty-two people have been killed.
Morales resigned on Nov. 10, alleged a coup d'état and is now in asylum Mexico. Members of Morales' party and the opposition said Friday they are nearing an agreement to call new elections.