Teen shot in Chile anti-Pinera protest dies

SANTIAGO,  (Reuters) – A Chilean teenager died early  yesterday a day after being shot following massive protests in  the capital against President Sebastian Pinera, police said,  the first fatality in months of social unrest.

Police identified the youth as 14-year-old Manuel  Gutierrez. Local media said he was shot in the chest near a  security barricade as protesters battled police overnight in  Santiago, in the aftermath of a 48-hour strike against  unpopular Pinera marked by violent clashes and sporadic  looting.

Local radio said witnesses blamed police for firing the  shots during the incident in a pocket of night-time unrest in a  modest neighborhood in the south of the capital. Police denied  officers were to blame, saying they had not used fire arms.

“The death of any citizen is a very serious situation,”  said Rodrigo Ubilla, undersecretary at the Interior Ministry.  “We should all be sad today because we have not been able to  move forward peacefully.”

“The solutions to big problems in this country do not lie  in throwing stones, bombs and attacking people; the solution  lies in talking,” he added. Ubilla put the youth’s age at 16.

Led by students demanding free education, hundreds of  thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent months  to call for greater distribution of the income of a copper  price boom in the world’s top producer of the metal.

On Thursday, youths blocked roads, threw rocks and set fire  to piles of trash at intersections in Santiago and other cities  to block traffic. Police used water cannon and tear gas to  defuse the latest social unrest against conservative  billionaire Pinera’s policies.

While Latin America’s model economy is seen expanding 6.6  percent this year and is an investor magnet thanks to prudent  fiscal and monetary policies, many ordinary Chileans feel they  are not sharing in the economic miracle.

Investors, long used to economic stability, are weighing  risk, although markets have taken the protests in stride.

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