Major protests erupt against Chile’s Pinera

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.

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