SANTIAGO – Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated on Sunday in the streets of the Chilean capital and other cities around the country calling for an end to the private pension system, imposed in 1981 by the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
The largest march took place in Santiago, where – according to the No+AFP Coordinator, which convened the protests – more than 350,000 people turned out.
The demonstrators gathered in the Plaza Italia, the assembly point for the majority of protest marches and many other such events held in the capital. The marchers moved toward the downtown Plaza Los Heroes peacefully and without incident.
The Confederation of Students of Chile (Confech), which gathers university and high school federations, also joined the protest.
Other protests were held in cities such as Arica, Valparaiso, Talca, Valdivia, Concepcion, Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas, among others.
The protesters called for an end to the Individual Capitalization System, which hands administration of the funds saved for retirement by workers to the private Pension Fund Administrators (AFP).
The No+AFP Coordinator has organized similar protests in recent months, some of which have had greater success than others.
The current pension system was imposed by the Pinochet regime in 1981 and obligates workers to deposit 10 percent of their salaries into the AFP, which invests the funds in the capital markets.
The Michelle Bachelet administration has offered to create a state-run AFP to better regulate the retirement system and to increase the percentage contributions from 10 percent to 15 percent of workers’ salaries, something that is in the hands of employers.