Protests in Chile enter their second day

Protesters in Chile are set for a second day of demonstrations in support of a 48-hour national strike to press for education reform.

Government officials say 36 people were injured Wednesday when protesters clashed with police, who were trying to shut down demonstrations in the capital of Santiago. Officials say 348 people were arrested following the clashes.

Chilean government officials called the strike a great failure, saying that only 5 percent of public employees participated in the work stoppage in its first day.

Businesses in most parts of Santiago were uninterrupted Wednesday, with public transportation continuing to function and traffic flowing through most streets, despite street blockades set up by protesters.

The government has condemned the strike, saying it will cost the country about $200 million per day.

The strike was called by Chile’s main labor union, CUT, in support of students who have been protesting for weeks for education reform and an overhaul of educational funding. In addition, strike organizers have called for tax reform and constitutional change.

There have also been large-scale protests against conservative President Sebastian Pinera.

President Pinera announced cuts in the education budget earlier this year. The president has called on students to reach a negotiated solution with the government based on 21 proposals he presented, but no agreement has been finalized.

The Chilean leader also faces sagging approval ratings.

The last time Chileans held a two-day national strike was during the rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who held power from 1973 until 1990.

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