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Chile: Despite deadly protests, 2019 APEC summit is still on

Chile: Despite deadly protests, 2019 APEC summit is still on

Chile’s Foreign Minister announced that the country is preparing for two major international events later this year, despite ongoing unrest that had claimed the lives of at least 18 people so far.

Chilean officials are continuing to prepare for the 2019 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to be held next month, Chilean Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera said.

“We are continuing to plan APEC, notwithstanding the fact that we are taking appropriate measures to bring this (unrest) under control so the summit can adequately take place,” he said.

Ribera said his ministry on Monday contacted the other 20 APEC members, and “we have not received, from any of them, any changes regarding the participation of their leaders.”

The APEC bloc “is very important to Chile because 70 percent of our exports are directed at countries that belong to the Asia-Pacific (region), and around 7 million Chileans work directly or indirectly to produce goods for these economies,” he said.

The ongoing protests are against the high cost of living, and to satisfy the protesters’ demands, “we need the country to keep growing, to keep exporting, to keep being involved with APEC,” he said.

Ribera said that Chilean officials are also working on organizing a key meeting on global warming, the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is scheduled for Dec. 2-13.

“Our willingness to help prevent climate change is not tied to any one summit, but is rather a government decision to be able to implement measures to mitigate climate change,” he said.

Protests were sparked on Oct. 14 by an increase in subway fares. So far, more than 4,000 people have been arrested.

On Oct. 19, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera declared a state of emergency and imposed in most of the country a curfew that is still in force in many regions.

The president signed a bill on Thursday to overturn a recent 9.2-percent hike in electricity rates. He also said this week that he would sign a bill on Friday to increase pensions by 20 percent for almost 3 million people.