Achievements and challenges one year after the historic social upheaval in Antofagasta and the country

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One year has passed since the beginning of the so-called “social outbreak” or “social revolt” in Chile. What began with massive evasions in the Santiago Metro carried out by students, became the expression of a deep, majority and transversal sample of discontent in the country.

The announcement of the increase in the price of transport, in addition to mocking expressions of some authorities who called on Chileans to get up earlier to take the Metro earlier or take advantage of a drop in the price of flowers, were the last straw for the vast majority of Chileans, who took to the streets pointing out that “it is not 30 pesos, but 30 years”, expressing their dissatisfaction with the inequality in the distribution of income, access to justice, corruption, low pensions and commercialization health, education, high drug prices and distrust of institutions, including the Constitution imposed on the country by the Augusto Pinochet regime.

The protests spread throughout the country, with mobilizations that reached historic borders due to their convocation, with millions of people in the streets throughout Chile, cacerolazos and public interventions that focused everyone’s attention on what was happening in the country.

Messages of support from Roger Waters, Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Residente, Brandon Boyd (Incubus), Rubén Albarrán, among many other figures from around the world at mobilizations in Chile demonstrated solidarity at the international level with a protest considered legitimate, at the same time that they denounced the abuses and human rights violations committed by the police forces at the service of the government of Sebastián Piñera.

It was precisely the president who from the outset criminalized social protest, stating: “We are at war against a powerful and implacable enemy,” declaring a state of exception and curfews, which in Antofagasta was declared since October 20.

The regional capital experienced its own social upheaval, which began with demonstrations and a massive march on October 19, the day after the embarrassing day in which the Regional Government authorities participated in a piece with a pool included where the current Mayor Edgar participated. Blanco, the same day that Sebastián Piñera ate pizza with his grandchildren, events that increased the outrage and discredit of the authorities in the eyes of the citizens.

Initially, the Government, both at the national and regional levels, opted to deny the mostly peaceful mobilizations and focus exclusively on isolated sources of violence, which could have been caused by infiltrated police agents, as has become public knowledge in recent days.

The repression intensified, with the use of tear gas against peaceful protesters, arrests and, at the same time, a lack of response to looting that took place by minority groups unrelated to social protest, as Amnesty International and the IACHR denounced in both reports that the government has denied and rejected.

Seeing more and more questioned and with requests even to determine a possible vacancy in his position due to physical or mental disability, finally Sebastián Piñera was gradually accessing some benefits for the population and opening himself to some reforms, as well as a constitutional change. He has also had to make several adjustments to his cabinet.

The arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic served as a momentary lifeline for the Government and a reduction in mobilizations in the streets, but discontent with the privileges of the political class remains latent in the bulk of the population.

A year later, thanks to the social mobilizations that began on that historic October 18, Chileans are on the verge of a historic plebiscite to open the door to the drafting of a new Constitution. There was also another important achievement, such as the approval of a withdrawal of part of the pension funds in the AFPs, created by the President’s brother, which before October 18, 2019 was almost unthinkable.

Likewise, citizen pressure has allowed the advancement of projects that slept in congress, such as the reduction of the parliamentary diet (although different from the original project), although there are still many pending issues to be resolved, such as decent pensions for the elderly, prices of medicines and health, in addition to sanctions to the political leaders and executors of human rights violations, in addition to changes in the armed institutions professionalizing their actions in respect of the dignity of people and making them more transversal without political biases, challenges that still keep Chileans active and plaintiffs seeking that this time it is their interests and not those of privileged groups that are expressed in the Constitution, the laws and the actions of all civil and military public institutions.

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