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SANTIAGO (Oct. 20, 2019)—A proposed hike in metro fares triggered massive demonstrations in this Chilean capital city, and the discontent has spread to other major cities in the country, including the coastal city of Concepción, where a triennial meeting of Covenant churches across Latin America was scheduled to start Monday.

The metro rate hikes catalyzed a deeper sense of dissatisfaction around economic inequity in Chile, which has had a reputation for stability in recent decades but also deals with one of the largest wealth gaps in Latin America. In some places, the demonstrations were peaceful; in other areas, protestors burned buses and buildings. In one supermarket fire over the weekend in greater Santiago, three people died. Over the weekend, the government enacted mandatory curfews in Santiago and Concepción, as well as in the city of Valparaíso. Late Saturday, the president of Chile announced the suspension of the rate hike, but demonstrations around the country continued.

The protests have coincided with the triennial gathering of Confraternidad de Iglesias del Pacto Evangélico, or CIPE, the network of Covenant churches across Latin America, which is scheduled to take place for five days about 50 miles outside of Concepción.

Deborah Masten, the Evangelical Covenant Church’s director of global personnel, has been leading the safety response to the volatile situation with regard to Evangelical Covenant Church staff and has been in close communication with CIPE leaders.

“We’re addressing issues of care for people in the country,” Masten says. “We are in prayer for Chile and working with various team members who have been gathering for CIPE.”

Contact: Erin Chan Ding, executive director of communications, Evangelical Covenant Church, erin.chanding@covchurch.org.




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