SANTIAGO, (Reuters) – Protesters battled police in Chile’s capital yesterday in the latest unrest against deeply unpopular President Sebastian Pinera, possibly sidetracking his top priorities such as capital market reforms.
Spearheaded by students demanding more affordable and improved education, tens of thousands of protesters marched in the streets of Santiago. A small core of protesters started fires and threw rocks at police, who fired tear gas and water cannons.
Police said 273 protesters were detained and 23 police officers were injured. No figures on other injuries were available.
At least two cars burned in downtown Santiago as police on horseback tried to drive protesters back. Police estimated around 60,000 people joined the protest, while student leaders said 100,000 people protested in the capital alone.
Battered by protests by students, environmentalists and miners in the world’s top copper producer, billionaire Pinera is the least popular leader in two decades since Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship, one recent poll showed.
The demand for education reform is hampering Pinera’s agenda, potentially delaying the passage of capital market reforms aimed at making Chile a regional financial hub and possibly affecting the country’s budget.