A demonstrator bangs a pot as another holds a sign reading "Chile Woke Up" as they demonstrate on the fourth straight day of protests against a now suspended hike in metro ticket prices, in Santiago, on October 21, 2019. (Photo by Pablo Vera\/AFP via Getty Images) SANTIAGO, Chile \u2014 As night fell on Santiago\u2019s fifth day under curfew, the sounds of spoons banging cooking pots spread through street corners and apartment buildings\u2014a song of cacerolazo that\u2019s become a rallying cry for Chileans after decades of inequality. \u201cThis sound is so strong, with the military on the street, it is the only way we can protest peacefully and show discontent with the government,\u201d Tatiana Moyano, a hostel owner, told Latino USA. \u201cWe are really tired of this abusive system. The salaries are low. There is a lot of social discontent. The pensions are miserable,\u201d Moyano added, as banging pans were heard in the distance. https:\/\/twitter.com\/ali_lopez82\/status\/1185709224329994240 For days, Chile has been torn apart by unrest and violence, sparked last week when students jumped metro turnstiles to protest a 4 percent rise in fares. Demonstrations, both violent and peaceful, have spread throughout the country, often facing heavy repression from the state. In Santiago, the air remains heavy with tear gas, and the streets wet from the use of water cannons. Curfews and states of emergency have been declared in many regions to curb vandalism, yet so far at least 18 people, including a child, have died in the unrest\u2014five at the hands of armed forces. On top of this at least 260 people have been wounded, with almost 2,000 people detained. Tear gas is used to disperse protesters this week in Santiago, Chile on October 21, 2019. (Photo by Naomi Larsson\/Latino USA) But through it all, the cacerolazo has been the people\u2019s peaceful response to repressive clashes with the state and the acts of vandals. Protesters and their pots and pans have united against economic policies that have almost completely privatized healthcare and education, alongside poor pensions and rising costs of services. The hike in subway fares was the spark that exposed these deep inequalities. \u201cThere is much inequality. It\u2019s education, taxes. The gap between rich and poor is huge, there are less opportunities for the poorer people to study or work,\u201d 25-year-old Catalina said, as she sat with her friend and held flowers as a form of peace in Plaza Italia. \u201cWe hope for change. There\u2019s a lot of things we have to change. It will be hard, it will be long, but it has to happen eventually. People are tired of being abused by the system.\u201d \u201cWe are all angry, but we\u2019re just here with flowers sitting trying to make a statement and the government doesn\u2019t care,\u201d added Catalina, keen to show that the majority of protests have been non-violent. Protesters bang pots, pans, and plastic bottles on street corner this week in Santiago, Chile on October 21, 2019. (Photo by Naomi Larsson\/Latino USA) On Tuesday night the president announced a package of reforms to appease protesters, apologizing for his \u201clack of vision.\u201d Proposals include a 20 percent rise in basic pension, raising the monthly minimum wage to 350,000 pesos (around $500), and reversing a recent rise in electricity bills. But for many, the measures are not enough for a crisis this severe. Chileans remain furious at the government\u2019s repression of peaceful protests\u2014an ominous reminder of the country\u2019s 17-year military dictatorship. \u201cWe lived through the dictatorship and when the president and government put the military on the streets, we couldn\u2019t accept it. This was a sign of incompetence of the government,\u201d said Lily, 65, as she bangs a tin can on a street corner in the capital. \u201cThey don\u2019t listen to the demands of the people. We can\u2019t accept the military as an arm of the government.\u201d A woman wears a mask in Santiago, Chile on October 21, 2019. (Photo by Naomi Larsson\/Latino USA) The government\u2019s repressive response to the protests has attracted international condemnation from civil rights groups. Amnesty International said in a statement: \u201cInstead of suppressing the protests, President Pi\u00f1era\u2019s government should focus its efforts on finding effective solutions to the demands that the Chilean people are expressing through their protests.\u201d https:\/\/twitter.com\/BorisvanderSpek\/status\/1186015053935529984 Joel Hern\u00e1ndez, vice president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, told Latino USA the Commission is \u201cvery concerned\u201d with the situation in Chile. \u201cWhat we are observing is a very critical situation arising from a peaceful demonstration,\u201d he said. \u201cWe are aware there could be acts of vandalism, and that there could be some people who are promoting such violence, but we also think that the response by the state should be only under strict international standards: the use of force only when needed, under the principles of proportionality, and restrain.\u201d Peaceful protest during an early morning in Plaza Italia, Santiago, Chile on October 21, 2019. (Photo by Naomi Larsson\/Latino USA) Demonstrations are expected to continue throughout the week, with tens of thousands of people descending on Plaza Italia, the epicenter of Santiago\u2019s protests. \u201cChile thinks it is a stable country, but it has a lot leftover from the dictatorship, a lot of discontent of the population,\u201d said 73-year-old Gustavo Gonz\u00e1lez, clapping his hands along to the chants of \u201cOh, Chile despert\u00f3\u201d ("Oh, Chile woke up"). \u201cThe country is unequal, the rich are rich, the poor are poor. The metro was the fire that lit this movement.\u201d \u201cWe are protesting to live a dignified life, and the only way to protest is to shout, to be in the streets, we are not doing vandalism,\u201d 24-year-old student Carlos said. \u201cChile has woken up. I am here for my grandparents, my parents, my nephews, for our future.\u201d *** Naomi Larsson is a British freelance journalist reporting mostly on social and environmental issues. She was a commissioning editor for the Guardian\u2019s global development network.