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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Escalating social unrest met with tanks and military on the streets of Chile in leadup to COP25

The last week has seen protests escalating in the streets of Santiago and other Chilean cities. This was triggered initially by students reacting against Santiago metro fare increase, the second increase this year. But it highlights poor pensions, a deteriorating health care system, and major social inequalities.

The situation in Chile is tense with a state of emergency declared and curfews imposed, tanks in the streets and troops using live rounds. Reminiscent of the junta years under General Pinochet.

Chile is nominally a constitutional democracy since early 1990s, with the present President Sebastián Piñera a member of the centre right National Renewal Party and a billionaire.

Don’t believe all the looting stories, some of it has been setup and done with cooperation of the military.

A statement has been issued on the protests on extreme inequality and cost of living in Chile by local NGO Civil Society for Action on Climate.

The Civil Society for Climate Action (SCAC for its initials in spanish) and its member organisations, signing below, declare the following to the public opinion and to the constituted State powers:
  1. Civil discontent expressed on the last few days in the country, evidently answers to a situation of extreme inequality that has led to a permanent abuse, of which the rise in the price of public transport in Santiago was only a detonating factor.
  2. The expression of civil discontent has also revealed the weakness of the social fabric over which the social, economic and judicial systems are built on. This fact has been largely documented and warned by civil society and social movements, receiving insufficient responses from the political system.
  3. The illegitimate appropriation of common goods such as water, air, sea and the forests are a sample of the illegitimate basis of our system, which has used all of its institutional power to defend the privilege of the few and the detriment of the dignity of all.
  4. The lack of responses to the demands of the society, as an attempt to perpetuate a system that has been built over insecurity and inequality, has led to the point of generalized exhaustion, which has left space for violence to bloom.
  5. The incomprehensible disconnect of our political leaders with the people’s sentiments has been shown in offensive declarations against workers and students, as it has in the surprise to popular rage.
  6. We make the call for demonstrations in this context, to be peaceful.
  7. We demand the total respect to human rights.
  8. We reject all apology to sate hate and violence, and urge the media to not provide more space to extremists that seek to polarize society.
  9. We call the political system and social movements to establish the basis of a new social deal that substitutes the arbitrary basis of the system imposed by the dictatorship and over which our country has been built, with intolerable inequalities.
  10. We also call the government to open themselves up to dialogue. To reestablish full State Right, withdraw forceful measures such as state of emergency and curfew and provide the needed political changes to work in a democratic system that enjoys its necessary legitimacy.
  11. We are willing to work on that new deal, a new constitution, and build a Chile that is indeed of everyone.

The Chilean trade union movement has called for a general strike...
"We Can't Remain Indifferent": Chile Trade Unions Call for General Strike in Support of Student-Led Uprising

Chile is scheduled to hold the UNFCCC Climate Conference COP25 in Santiago from December 2 to December 13. I have accreditation to attend this conference.

Looks like I will need to take extreme care on my trip to Chile and my plans might need to be flexible and change.

Image from a tweet 21 October:

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