Discontent spreads in Chile with Piera on the defensive

SEBASTIN FESTBuenos Aires
Saturday,
19
October
2019

20:42


Buses burning in the Plaza de Maipu, in Santiago, Chile.
MARTIN BERNETTI AFP

Chile.

Piera announces a state of exception in Chile after a strong explosion of violence due to the rise in subway rates

Latin America

Three years in prison for former security chief Augusto Pinochet for torture
Chile joined the turbulent Latin American present with unexpected force: days ago President Sebastin Piera boasted of the “oasis” condition of his country, the protests that are spreading this weekend through Santiago showed him that no , that the oasis is not such. What began as a student protest over the rise in the subway ticket became an increasingly broad demonstration involving people of all ages already strong middle class nuclei. The cacerolazos are the most widespread “weapon”, although an important sector, most of them hooded, chose the path of violence : the excesses and destruction in the subway network and the burning of buses in several sectors of Santiago generated rejection in the country and led Chile to recover images of the past, with the military taking control of the capital. “In a democracy it is legitimate to manifest, but not to destroy what belongs to everyone,” said deputy Jaime Bellolio, one of the young figures with a future in Chilean politics. “If the ultra-left justifies and endorses breaking public transport, I want to defend it. I volunteer to remove the debris from the subway stations,” added the critical member of the right-wing coalition. The image of Piera, who on Friday night was photographed in a pizza with his family before returning with a tense face to La Moneda, is being eroded. “ What Piera has done is a provocation not seen since the time of the dictatorship!” Complained to the CNN Chile signal a protester in the central area of ​​Plaza Italia. Friday night had resulted in 308 detainees and 41 subway stations damaged, but those numbers grew as Saturday progressed. “ It’s not just the subway, it’s a total discontent ,” added another demonstrator. “The government doesn’t realize. The president tells us that he gets up early and goes to bed late. Well, that everybody does.” Will the demonstrations continue? “Obviously, this is not going to stop until the government notices. Water, light, everything goes up in this country!”. The tear gas permeated the atmosphere today in several neighborhoods of Santiago , a city that already has serious pollution problems. The police (militarized police) repressed the protesters, most of them peaceful and hitting their pans . They did it frequently with jets of water thrown by hydrating cars, but often with gases, which ignited many of those who protested and multiplied the tension. I wanted to declare the state of exception on the edge of midnight on Friday and put in command from the security of a large part of the metropolitan area to a general of the Army, Javier Iturriaga, who arrived at the edge of midnight at the Palacio de La Moneda with combat uniform and black beret. A couple of hours later, Iturriaga already He was the target of criticism for his statements at a press conference . The National Association of Professional Soccer (ANFP) of Chile had announced the suspension of all football games this weekend, which includes the superclassic between the Catholic University and Colo Colo. The same thing had happened with a macro concert called “Festival of 40 hours”, but Iturriaga released a comment that plunged many in disbelief: “Hopefully the domino we have a new champion of Chilean football. I’m not from the Catholic , just in case . “The comment was, in the middle of the state of emergency of the city, at least I miss. More in the case of the man chosen by the president to guarantee security. The government and the ANFP met to explore the viability of playing the game, but soon concluded that it was very inadvisable to do so . How to explain what is happening in a country seen from abroad as a model of good macroeconomic management? The fact that the modern and efficient metro network developed in recent decades has been completely paralyzed is an image that may help to understand the Chilean problem: the metro could be a show of progress, but that does not mean that all of its passengers are happy . Although the country has been growing steadily for two decades – although in the last year it has done so with weakness – the level of multidimensional poverty (the one that not only measures income ) does not descend and is sustained at a level of 20 percent, while income distribution is one of the most unequal in Latin America: the 20% most benefited receives 13.6% of the income of the poorest 20%. In 2015 that relationship was 11.9 times. It is clear; Chile grows and develops, its middle class expands but for large sectors of the population things not only do not change, but they get worse. And the problem has just exploded Piera in the face.

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