Saturday, October 19, 2019

Discontent in Chile

A state of emergency has been declared in the Chilean capital after protests against a rise in metro fares spilled out into violence fuelled by rising cost-of-living pressures. The latest protests follow grievances over the cost of living, specifically the costs of healthcare, education and public services. Unsatisfied by partial reforms following widespread education protests in 2011, the metro fare rise has proved the spark that has awoken Chile.

The state of emergency will apply to Santiago and can last for 15 days. It grants the government additional powers to restrict citizens’ freedom of movement and their right to assembly. 

Earlier, Chile’s interior minister, confirmed that the government would apply the State Security Law. The legislation – which is separate to the state of emergency – hands special powers of prosecution to authorities. In practice the law means that heavy sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment could be handed down to those found guilty of inhibiting or damaging public services.

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