Analysis FAES Chile: democratic response to social explosion

15/11/2019

Felipe del Valle Rey is national president of New Generations UDI


Last Friday, October 18, several organizations issued a call to evade payment to the subway of Santiago after the last increase announced by the Government. During that day the massive irregular entrances to the subway began in different points of the capital, which triggered a series of demonstrations and destructions in the metropolitan transport system. On that day, more than 78 stations of Santiago's subway were attacked simultaneously, resulting in 40 of them completely burned, forcing the closure of all stations and paralyzing underground transport. From that moment on, a wave of confrontations began between demonstrators and police throughout the country.

Faced with this wave of violence, the Government announced the Decree of the State of Constitutional Emergency Exception for the Metropolitan Region after evaluating the damage and chaos caused by the violence and vandalism of the day. And by virtue of which, the Army was entrusted with the protection of public order. On the contrary, the following day not only did the capital have a state of emergency, but in 9 other regions a curfew was established to protect citizens.

The main cities of the country were filled with people demonstrating against social injustices. Without prejudice to the peaceful demonstrations, vandalism and violence were present in almost the entire country, with massive looting of supermarkets, SMEs, in addition to the destruction of buildings and public and private patrimony.

On October 19, President Piñera, on a national chain, stated that "we are at war against a powerful enemy" and called for unity and condemnation of "violence and delinquency".

By Oct. 21, far from stopping the demonstrations, the public transportation system was running at half capacity and queues were growing at gas stations and supermarkets. The President of the Republic summoned the political parties to a great Social Agreement, in which the Broad Front, the Communist Party and the Socialist Party were subtracted.

Subsequently, on October 22, the Government announced the measures to raise the country's lowest pensions, the freezing of the increase in electricity tariffs that had increased in recent years and the decrease in the price of the Santiago subway. Even so, the unions and various organizations called for a strike on October 23.

The Frente Amplio, the PC and the PS tried to capitalize politically on the various demonstrations and promote their own slogans, such as demanding the change of the fundamental charter through a Constituent Assembly.

After the clashes between civilians and the military, 20 deaths were lamented at the national level, both of military personnel and of the same civil society that protected its houses and businesses from looting and delinquency. That is why President Piñera invited the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to come to Chile to observe these situations, putting an end to the State of Emergency and thus to the curfew.

On October 25 there was a historic record of demonstrations in our country, where more than one and a half million people demonstrated in the city of Santiago against social injustices and demanding dignity in the face of their demands.

These demonstrations did not begin with the rise of 30 Chilean pesos in the subway fare, but with the real intention of undermining the bases of the Republic of Chile, where one of the slogans was a new Constitution, a measure to which the Government has yielded. The position of the opposition regarding violence was to legitimize it in the beginning, justifying the PC's bench the massive irregular entrances to the underground and calling for a serious disturbance of public order and the realization of a Constituent Assembly. The mechanism subsequently defined by the Government is a Constituent Congress, but the opposition's position is Constituent Assembly or nothing.

The violence has led Chile to a climate of ungovernability in which a large part of the population cannot reach their workplaces, many students are unable to carry out their work because their institutions are taken over or paralyzed, and a large part of the population lives in a climate of insecurity and uncertainty.

On November 12, President Sebastián Piñera called for three major agreements for Chile: a peace agreement to stop violence and acts of vandalism and restore public order; an agreement for justice to promote a Chile with greater equity, more opportunities and fewer abuses; and an agreement for a new constitution that allows for a new social pact with broad citizen participation. The easy decision would have been to use force, the difficult one to bet on peace and dialogue.

Today the "ball" is in the court of the Chilean left and it depends on them to be able to sit down to dialogue with the Government in order to stop this wave of excessive violence in which we are immersed.

#Latinamerica #Chile #Sebastián Piñera #Violence #IzquierdaRadical