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  • Police officers attack a citizen during a protest against President Sebastian Piñera in Valparaiso, Chile Nov. 12, 2019.

    Police officers attack a citizen during a protest against President Sebastian Piñera in Valparaiso, Chile Nov. 12, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 November 2019

Over the last month, at least 5,629 people have been arrested and 2,009 were injured during the protests.

After completing an “emergency mission” in Chile, European Parliament Members Miguel Urban and Idoia Villanueva on Wednesday reported that this South American country suffers repression levels similar to those seen in the last three years of the Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship (1973-1990).

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Besides preparing a mission report, the leftist MEPs wrote an open letter adressing Federica Mogherini, the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

They ask that the EU requires President Sebastian Piñera to halt the repression of citizens and ask for explanations about the actions carried out by the Army and the Police.

Urban and Villanueva recalled that the EU and Chile signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which contains a "Cause on Democracy".

This binding instrument contemplates that the bilateral trade deal can be suspended if Chile does not respect human rights.

"Chile is just another example within a global trend towards the criminalization of social protests and persecution of human rights defenders," Urban said, adding that such problems "are being silenced."

The MEP indicated that Europe does not want to recognize the "exhaustion" of neoliberalism, which is an unsustainable model that enhances social inequalities.

"Day 26 of protests at the Dignity Square (formerly known as Italy Square). Do not stop spreading that the anger of the Chilean people is still present, despite the dead, the disappeared, the injured, those whose eyes were torn off. They continue, they are still in the streets."

The European Parliament on Wednesday is expected to address the situation of human rights in Chile.

"The EU cannot look the other way," Urban stressed and regretted that some MEPs are just asking for a debate on the Chilean issue which does not imply a final joint resolution.​​​​​​​

Massive demonstrations against the Chilean government began in Santiago on October 14 due to a 30-cent increase in the subway fare.​​​​​​​

While this measure was canceled by Piñera, social unrest increased in magnitude as the Chileans began to question "30 years" of neoliberal policies, which have implied a systematic withdrawal of economic and social rights for millions of people.​​​​​​​

According to the National Institute of Human Rights (NHRI), over the last month at least 5,629 people have been arrested and 2,009 injured in this South American country.​​​​​​​

Chile "is just another example within a global trend of criminalization of social protests and the persecution of human rights defenders," Urban said and added that such problems "are being silenced." The MEP indicated that Europe does not want to recognize the "exhaustion" of neoliberalism, which is an "unsustainable model that generates inequality." On Wednesday it is expected that the plenary of the European Parliament will address in some way the analysis of the situation of human rights in Chile. "The European Union cannot look the other way," Urban said and regretted that some groups of parliamentarians, who refuse to condemn the repression in Chile, ask for a debate on the Chilean issue but that does not imply a final joint resolution. According to data from the National Institute of Human Rights (NHRI), during the last month 5,629 people have been arrested and 2,009 injured due to police repression.
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