Chileans demand justice, transparency

By Casey Carpenter, Hawkeye Staff

The Chilean government’s decision to hike public transportation fares triggered massive protests in the capital city of Santiago on Oct. 14. Protests have continued over the past several weeks due to the rising cost of living, income inequality, privatization of previously government-operated businesses and utilities and numerous government corruption scandals. 

On Oct. 25, over a million protesters filled the streets of Santiago demanding the resignation of incumbent president Sebastián Piñera. Protesters have since also demanded a redrafting of the constitution in a fashion that will ensure a more equitable and democratic society.

On Oct. 21 the death toll went up to 17 and that number has since risen to 21 confirmed fatalities. At the time of publication, there have been nearly 3,000 civilians and protesters injured and more than 7,000 arrested. On Nov. 1, protesters wore black and quietly crowded the streets to demand justice for those killed by the government forces.

Violence again erupted on Nov. 1 and chaos ensued after police and special forces fired water cannons and threw tear gas in the streets. Some protesters even fought back by throwing petrol bombs, setting many people on both sides on fire. On Oct. 26, as the protesters grew more and more violent, the Chilean government announced a series of social reforms to appease the unrest. However, the protests continued as the opposition maintained that the government’s social reforms did not go far enough in rectifying societal inequality.

These protests still rage on, with countless numbers of protesters still being injured and arrested. The protests have been classified as the worst case of civil unrest in the country since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship due to the massive number of protesters and the damage to infrastructure throughout the country. 

Piñera has declared a state of emergency in several provinces throughout the nation and has approved the deployment of the Chilean Armed Forces to these areas to ensure order and prevent property destruction.