July 15, 2020 / 10:55 PM / a month ago

Pink-caped Chilean deputy brings lawmakers to their feet to celebrate coronavirus bill

Chile's opposition congresswoman Pamela Jiles celebrates the vote during a congressional session to reject a constitutional reform on pensions proposed by opposition lawmakers, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Valparaiso, Chile July 15, 2020. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A Chilean lawmaker launched hundreds of internet memes on Wednesday when she ran through congress wearing a pink cape and waving matching fans to celebrate passage in the lower house of a coronavirus emergency aid measure.

Wearing a face mask and a pink shawl streaming behind her, Pamela Jiles sprinted repeatedly past bemused senior ministers in President Sebastian Pinera’s administration who sat on the front bench and had opposed the bill. Other lawmakers whipped out cellphone cameras, stood, clapped and waved their hands.

Twitter users celebrated Jiles, who turned in an energetic performance despite a cast on one leg, as a “great grandma,” compared her to Japanese cartoon ninja Naruto and called for Chile to be renamed “Jile.”

The former journalist turned lawmaker, a member of the far-left Broad Front coalition who represents a poor area of Santiago, has been a supporter of the populist plan to allow citizens hit hard by coronavirus lockdown measures to withdraw up to 10% of privately held pension funds. The bill will be voted on by senators next week.

Jiles said on Tuesday on Twitter that she had strenuously lobbied, to the point of “offering my body,” for lawmakers to vote in favour of a reform “that will save people from hunger.”

An opinion poll showed Chileans strongly in favour of the idea, but the center-right government sought to defeat it.

Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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