Thousands of people took to the streets across Chile to mark the first month of the most serious civil unrest in the country and show their distrust of both the social agenda announced by the government and the parliamentary agreement on a new constitution.
The Plaza Italia, the ground zero of the protests and renamed by the protesters as “Plaza Dignidad” (Square of Dignity), once again on Monday became the epicentre of a large gathering, reports Efe news.
What began as a call by Chilean university students to sneak into the Santiago subway to protest against the increase in the ticket prices became protests unparalleled in the last three decades, with no identified leaders and a cry for a fairer economic model.
“In the last four weeks, Chile changed; the Chileans changed, the government changed; we all have changed. The social pact under which we had lived broke down,” said President Sebastian Pinera, who at the beginning of the crisis announced a series of social measures in parliament.
The President also praised the agreement reached by parliamentary forces on November 15 to convene a plebiscite in April 2020 so that citizens can decide if they want a new constitution and which body should write it. He also acknowledged for the first time that there have been abuses and excessive use of force by security forces, which he promised to sanction.
The unrest has left at least 23 dead – five of them allegedly at the hands of state agents – and 2,381 injured, according to the latest report by Chile’s National Institute of Human Rights.
Chilean Police (known as Carabineros) said on Monday that there have been more than 15,000 arrests since October 18, of which 4,000 were linked to looting.
Meanwhile, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an autonomous body of the Organization of American States, began a multi-day visit to the country on Monday to investigate hundreds of complaints of abuse, torture, sexual violence and homicides by the security forces.
The IACHR joins other organizations on the ground, such as Human Right Watch and the UN.