Situation in Chile is aggravated under military control

On the afternoon of last Friday, October 18, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera decreed the state of emergency in the face of the serious acts of violence and vandalism unleashed as a result of the manifestations of citizenship in rejection of the upward passages in the Santiago metro.

Metro station in Chile.

Metro station in Chile. / Photo: REUTERS

LatinAmerican Post | Alberto Castaño

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Leer en español: Se agrava la situación en Chile bajo el control militar

It all started with protests by students who were carrying out mass evasions in the payment of the subway ticket, mocking the turnstiles to the mass transit system.

The situation began to worsen and resulted in the burning of various subway stations, looting of supermarkets, bus fires, public monuments and even the headquarters of ENEL, the electricity company that supplies the Chileans was vandalized on the night of the Friday by citizens who lashed out at their facilities.

Adopting a measure to control the unleashed excesses in Santiago, the president of the Chileans appointed Division General Javier Iturriaga del Campo as Head of National Defense, who according to Article 5 of the Constitutional Organic Law of the States of Exception, counts with the power to “assume command of the Armed Forces and Public Order and Security that are in the zone declared in a state of emergency, for the purpose of ensuring public order and for repairing or preventing damage or danger to the national security that has given rise to that state, having to observe the administrative powers of the institutional authorities placed under its jurisdiction”.

Restricting the citizen's right to assembly and free mobilization, Piñera gave control of the Chilean capital to the military in the provinces of Santiago and Chacabuco while making a photograph public in a pizzeria, talking with his family before returning to El Palacio de La Currency, with a bitter and cold expression.

After his arrival, around midnight, General Iturriaga arrived wearing a combat suit and with a black beret that reminded many Chileans of the times in which the military was commanding in the country under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

At a press conference, Iturriaga del Campo presented security measures to control the excesses and destruction of public goods and exacerbated the spirits of citizenship with a comment that seemed to have an incendiary and provocative tone: “Hopefully we have a new Chilean soccer champion on Sunday. I am not from the Catholic, just in case”, in the midst of the chaos prevailing in the country and after the announcement of the National Association of Professional Football to cancel the football matches of the weekend, the military's comment according to Chief of National Defense wasn't well received.

Also read: Santiago de Chile dawns in a state of emergency

During the night of Saturday 19, President Piñera announced that he has "listened with humility to the voice of the people" and therefore decided to suspend the rise in the cost of the subway ticket. In spite of the president's announcement, the citizenship did not yield in his manifestation of discontent and in the unleashed anger.

Expressions of discontent were not restricted to the Chilean capital, cities such as Valparaíso and Concepción woke up Sunday with serious damage to their buildings and public structures, added to the paralysis of some ports and blockages on certain roads.

Around 8:00 PM (local time), from the account of the National Army on the social network Twitter, the decision to decree the curfew in Santiago, from 7, was communicated by the National Defense Headquarters : 00 PM (that is, one hour before being communicated), until 6:00 AM on Monday, October 21.



After this announcement, the curfew was extended to the cities of Valparaíso and Concepción from 8:00 PM on Sunday 20 until 6:00 AM on the following Monday. It was the Head of National Defense in the Valparaíso Region, Admiral Juan Andrés de la Maza, who confirmed the measure. For his part, his counterpart in the region of Concepción, Rear Admiral Carlos Huber, reported the same measure for this area of the country. Later it was the cities of La Serena, Coquimbo and Rancagua who were also subjected to the prohibition of free transit during the night that leads to Monday from Sunday.

The Minister of Interior and Security, Andrés Chadwick, announced on Sunday that “all the communes of the Metropolitan Region, the city of Antofagasta and Valdivia have been incorporated into the state of emergency and emergency decrees for all the communes of Valparaíso, for the city of Talca, Chillán, and Chillán Viejo, Temuco and Padre Las Casas and the city of Punta Arenas ”.

Hundreds of canceled flights and many more rescheduled by the different airlines force travelers to sleep in the corridors unable to leave the air terminal due to curfew and lack of public transport. To this, the suspension of classes of the schools is added during Monday in 43 of the 52 communes of the metropolitan region.

What began as a manifestation of rejection due to the rise in subway fares in Santiago, resulted in a claim of rights that Chilean society considers violated, not only public transport is subject to attacks and discontent, health and education, conceptually private, low income, high inequality rates, high concentrations of capital and wealth in few hands added to the rise in basic services managed to detonate the HT # ChileDespertó.

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