The violent protests in Chile, and what’s behind it

The violent protests in Chile, and what’s behind it

Garrett V., Photojournalist

Garrett V.- Photojournalist 

Recently, violent protests have been sparked all over Chile. There has been looting and burning of shops, metro stations have been defaced and temporarily closed to the public. These demonstrations are over economic inequalities, living costs and rising debt in a country not used to poor conditions.

These protests were sparked when there was a proposed hike for the price of subway tickets in the capital city Santiago. Chile itself is one of South America’s wealthiest countries, but it has one of the world’s highest levels of income inequality. Also, there has been a problem with people finding long term, high skill jobs with most only able to get temporary or informal jobs. There have been calls for wider economic reform over a number of issues including pensions, healthcare and public education, which shows how there are cracks in the country’s progress since its transition to democracy in 1990.

When the protests began to show how they weren’t going to be over in a day or two, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera made a public apology for the “decades” of problems that have been building up in a video, promising new economic and social reforms. However, this has done little to quell the violence, as it continues on it’s 6th day.

A tragedy occurred Wednesday, when an unidentified car rammed into a crowd, killing a four year old child along with another person, further angering Chileans. There was another death on the same day, with a person being killed after being attacked by Chilean police, raising the death toll to 18. 

In response to this, the Chilean government extended the curfew for a fifth consecutive day for the Santiago Metropolitan region, along with classes and schools being suspended until Friday. Pinera has addressed the importance of peace, and stated he will lift the curfew as soon as the violence ends and tranquility is restored, despite how most protests are peaceful.

Human Rights Watch has called to the Chilean government to investigate crimes committed by demonstrators, along with security who responded with excessive force. They have stated how they are concerned of the images of police brutality, and want Chilean Security to respect human rights, and want Pinera to assure that forces involved in abuses will be investigated.