Chileans are facing the worst violence since Pinochet to demand reforms.

As of early December, there have been 2,808 people injured, with 26 confirmed dead due to the ongoing civil protests going on all over Chile. There have been over 3.7 million people involved in clashes. 

What started out as a student-led demonstration against transport fares, spiraled into some of the worst violence and the largest protest movement Chile has seen since the dictatorship of Pinochet almost 30 years ago. The people of Chile are not just fighting for their transit rights. They are also demands for universal health care, access to public education, pensions and living wages, and an end to the Pinochet-established constitution of 1980.

Many citizens of Chile are angered and have demanded for President Sebastian Pinera to resign. The wave of protests began after the Santiago transit fare raised by 30 pesos (about 4 cents) and the students decided to conduct a mass fare evasion, by jumping over metro entrances or even destroying them. “Evade and not pay, is another way of fighting,” the youth chant. 

Law enforcement tried to stop the students at the stations, but the protests dispersed into the streets. Public property such as supermarkets was destroyed and burned as a form of protest, which led President Pinera to declare a state of emergency which lasted from October 19 to 27, 2019, during which time the military was deployed to the streets to enforce a curfew.  

“Enough is enough, The people of Chile are waking up” said, Gisselle, 51, a Chilean-Canadian citizen who came to Canada as a refugee in 1976. Gisselle believes the citizens of Chile are coming to the realization that they are one of the most unequal countries in Latin America. 

In response, Pinera has offered a multitude of new social reforms. Of those including a rise in the minimum wage, an increase in the state pension and the stabilisation of the costs of electricity. many have been happy and welcoming of the reforms, while others believed the proposal was not enough.    

Lives have been cost at the hand of these protests. 26 people have been confirmed dead. Of those 26, including children, youth and women. The military of Chile has been accused of serious human rights violations and abuses againsts protesters including rape, executions, and torture. The military has fired metal and rubber pellets, injuring the eyes of over 200 people, leaving some completely blind. At many protests, the people have shown solidarity with the victims by wearing eyepatches meant to cover bullet wounds. In a televised speech, Pinera finally acknowledged that “ abuses and crimes have been committed, an the rights of all were not respected”

With all acts of protest gathered, there have been over 3.7 million people involved in protests in Chile.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

It has been decided that a referendum will be held in April of 2020, a chance for the citizens of Chile to decide whether to replace the dictatorship-era constitution. 

Image Credit: Carlos Figueroa

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