Santiago: The demonstrations in Chile against the decisions taken by President Sebastian Pinera have begun to escalate further. The protests which started last week over the introduction of the subway fare hike, have turned violent giving rise to rallies and strikes in Chile’s capital Santiago and the rest of the state. Moreover, the protests have distorted Chile’s identity as a stable and prosperous nation of Latin America, glaringly highlighting economic disparity gripping the country.
In October, the Chilean government decided to increase the metro fare prices. The metro network covers many cites in Chile and is primarily used by the common man. The fare hike thus faced bitter resistance. However, President Pinera initially decided to maintain the increased subway fares by trying to crush the protests.
The declaration of an emergency and military deployment in Santiago within just a few days of the protests fuelled the discontent within the demonstrators. Sharp reactions emanated from the Chileans, who have experienced the military dictatorship and overthrown it in the last century. Also, the government’s aggressive use of the security forces and their mistakes have created problems for President Pinera.
The government announced the withdrawal of the decision after a week of the demonstrations. However, the government’s initial action against the protestors had already agitated them. At the same time, the protests that began over the increase of railway fares went on to incorporate other matters such as the country’s constitution, education, health and economic inequality turning them significantly extensive.
As it presented a different image of Chile, recognised as the most prosperous country in Latin America, even the international community began mounting pressure over the state. Furthermore, the United Nations (UN) as also international NGOs have alleged that the Chilean security forces were using excessive force.
Even after one month, the Chilean protests appear to have intensified further instead of quieting down. The government crackdown against the demonstrators has killed 24 people while more than 3,000 were injured. The protestors are thus highlighting the issue and demanding resignation from President Pinera. Additionally, sources informed that attacks had begun against the security agencies and government enterprises in which protestors were using petrol bombs.
As per analysts, the anti-government demonstrations in few other nations of Latin America had also inspired the Chilean protests and indicated that the heat would continue for some time.