By: Emmy Tran
For this blog post this week, a sensitive topic about Chile came up on my laptop screen and made me think of sharing it with other students. It is from the article: “Chile protest anniversary turns violent as churches burned, police fire tear gas”- Reuters. I noticed the Chilean protests started in October 2019 through the media posts of my Chilean friends. Still, I am more curious why it happened in Chile again during COVID-19 in 2020. This article was published after the anniversary, which was six months ago. I focus on this topic because I would like to discover Chile’s issues where my abroad school (UFT) is located and have a better understand their politics.
The article is about the protest in Santiago, Chile, on October 18, 2020. Thousands of Chilean citizens gathered in Santiago’s central square for the first anniversary of a mass protest. Actually, the Chilean citizens were unhappy with the rising fare of the public metro subway, which was the most convenient with the cheap fee for transportation to Chileans. They also wanted a new constitution to replace the one written in 1980 during the reign of August Pinochet, a military dictator of Chile from 1973-1990. Besides, Chileans protested for the inequality and cost of living. That was why protests and looting in the metro station in 2019. Rebellions and looting were also inevitable on October 18, 2020. The anniversary in Chile was because of an upcoming October 25 constitutional referendum in 2020. Chilean citizens in all cities and Chile, including Santiago, have called for a “yes” vote for the event against the country’s dictatorship-era Constitution. The moment of peace was just the beginning of the protest. Then they started to ramp up the violence and robbery of the supermarket and clash with the police. Interior Minister Victor Perez said it would punish all rioters and vandals in these protests. There were threats against a mayor of the Communist Party, and masked men set fire to police headquarters and churches, including Santiago’s Capital. On that night, Santiago became suffocated with smoke. The event drew around 25,000 people at 6 p.m. Some of them were covered up in COVID-19.
This Chilean event may recall everyone about a similar event in the United States with the protests started in summer 2020. That is why I feel more connected to this article. Santiago’s rallies began from October 2019 to March 2020 because of the pandemic, so they stopped the protests. However, they did the anniversary later last year, and the demonstration occurred again. In my perspective, peaceful demonstrations are good enough to persuade the government to give our voice. Still, it is unacceptable if it turns into riot and business robbery. Chilean citizens and their government seemed not concordant. It can cause the downside of the economy for this country. I know how other people who did not attend the riots feel because I experienced it in the U.S last summer. I felt unsafe due to COVID-19 and robbery around my area. In Decatur, there were several robberies in Kroger and BestBuy during the summer. Businesses are the most vulnerable to this terrorism.
After reading this article, I feel sad for Chile and the people over there. I hope that the governments and people could trust and help each other keep the country safer. An intelligent leader gives more opportunities to their people to live better, so I also hope Chilean citizens would win for their rights in this term.