SANTIAGO (AFP) – The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit will go ahead in Santiago next month despite a week of protests that has left 18 dead in the South American country, Chile’s foreign minister said Thursday.
US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are among those expected to attend the November 16-17 meeting to discuss ending their trade war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was another leader who had confirmed his attendance before mass demonstrations erupted on Friday in an explosion of public discontent over unequal social and economic conditions.
“There’s no change in any participation from the APEC economies,” Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera told reporters.
Ten days ago Trump announced a partial deal had been agreed with China that could be signed in Santiago during the summit, potentially ending an 18-month-long trade conflict that saw tariffs placed on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of goods.
But days of protests in Santiago and around the country put in question the APEC summit, as well as another major international meeting, the UN climate change conference COP 25, which is scheduled to be held in December in the Chilean capital.
The protests erupted last Friday against a metro fare hike but spiraled into general discontent at low salaries and pensions, high costs of health care and education, and a yawning gap between rich and poor.
While much of the action has been peaceful, metro stations were destroyed, supermarkets torched and looted, traffic lights and bus shelters smashed and countless street barricades erected and set alight.
Some 20,000 police and soldiers have been deployed in the city, using tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators.
But they have also been responsible for five of the deaths, while social media have lit up with accusations of torture and abuses by the security forces. The United Nations said Thursday it would send a special mission to investigate human rights abuses in Chile.
APEC is an inter-governmental forum made up of 21 economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Those economies make up 40 percent of the world’s population, 60 percent of its gross domestic product and 50 percent of total trade, according to the Chile summit organizers.