Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced Wednesday that his country, which has been paralyzed by protests over the last two weeks, will no longer host two major international summits.
Clashes at demonstrations in the capital of Santiago have left at least 20 people dead and led to the resignation of eight key ministers from Pinera’s cabinet.
The President has now canceled the hosting of the economic APEC forum and COP25 environmental summit, which were both due to take place later this year.
“It deeply pains our government to announce — because this is painful for Chile — that we will not hold the APEC summit, which was scheduled to take place in November, or the COP25 summit, scheduled to take place in December,” Pinera said during a televised announcement at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago.
“We are deeply sorry for the problems and inconveniences this decision will cause for both APEC and COP,” Pinera said. “As the president of all Chileans I always have to put the problems and interests of Chileans first. Their needs and hopes.”
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) was scheduled to be held from November 11 to the 17 and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) was scheduled to be held from December 2 to December 13.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump had teased a potential meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit, as he said that progress on negotiations in the US-China trade war were “a little bit ahead of schedule, maybe a lot ahead of schedule.”
The White House acknowledged on Wednesday that APEC will not be taking place in Chile. “It’s our understanding the organization does not currently have a secondary site prepared,” it wrote in a statement. “We’re awaiting potential information regarding another location.”
It is currently unclear whether another country will attempt to host the summit.
Chile’s protests initially began over a now-suspended price hike for subway tickets in Santiago but have since expanded, revealing anger among ordinary Chileans, who feel they have been excluded from the nation’s economic rise.
Many of the protesters are now asking for Pinera’s resignation.