Amid ongoing anti-government protests in Chile, President Sebastian Pinera on Monday replaced eight cabinet ministers including his interior and finance ministers.
During a ceremony which was held at the presidential headquarters, Pinera said, “Our government has heard the loud and clear message of Chileans asking for, and deserving, a more just country with solidarity, greater equal opportunity and less privilege”.
“Chile has changed and the government has to change too,” to face the new reality in one of Latin America’s most developed countries, he added.
Earlier on Monday, Interior Minister Andres Chadwick, a 63-year-old cousin of the President and one of his closest aides, was replaced by 41-year-old Gonzalo Blumel, who has been with Pinera since he started a second term in 2018.
Pinera also appointed Ignacio Briones, an economics professor, to replace finance minister Felipe Larrain.
On Saturday, Pinera had said that the state of emergency which has seen troops on the streets of this capital and other Chilean cities is set to end.
Last week, thousands of protesters took to the street to protests against the government.
Riot police used tear gas and streams of water to break up marches by rock-throwing demonstrators in several streets of Santiago while military and police guarded other Chileans who formed long lines at supermarkets.
So far, at least 19 people have been killed in clashes with security forces and other protests-related violence, 1,132 people injured, and 3,243 people arrested, according to a Monday report by Chile’s National Human Rights Institute.
The National Human Rights Institute (INDH), an autonomous public agency that monitors the actions of security forces, put the number of arrests at 2,840 and said that it has verified reports of torture and other abuses by police and soldiers.
A United Nations mission will travel to Chile this week to investigate possible human rights violations during the protests. Michelle Bachelet, the current UN high commissioner for Human Rights, was Pinera’s predecessor as president.