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  • Demonstrator Holding a placard with an image depicting Chile's President Sebastian Pinera and the late dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    Demonstrator Holding a placard with an image depicting Chile's President Sebastian Pinera and the late dictator Augusto Pinochet. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 November 2019
Opinion

Chile's Constitution stipulates that the military forces do not interfere in domestic policy.

On the backdrop of the social crisis which has been shaking Chile since October and amid international criticism over the excessive use of violence by security forces against protesters, the country’s President Sebastian Piñera announced Sunday his intention to send Congress a draft bill that would allow the military to control public infrastructures without having to decree the state of emergency.

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The law would give Armed Forces the green light to “collaborate in the protection of our critical infrastructure, including essential public services and police infrastructure, whose effective functioning is vital for the security and quality of life of all Chileans,” the president said.

During a visit to the police at the Non-commissioned Officers School, Piñera said the measure will allow “a very significant number of military officers” to establish order and security in the nation.

The Chilean president also stressed that the legislative project would permit the security forces to “monitor and patrol our streets, squares and public places, protecting public order and the security of our citizens."

Chile's Constitution stipulates that the military forces can not interfere in domestic policy and do not exercise powers in the interior, but are instead dedicated to the national defense. Despite the Constitution's statements, the right-wing president ordered the military to be deployed in the country when the protests started Oct. 18.

The unrest in the South-American country was sparked by a government’s decision to increase metro fees but quickly spread to hold other social issues such as income inequality and swelling costs of living. The state’s response to the popular grievances has since led to the death of 23 demonstrators while more than 2,000 have been injured.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) along with numerous other rights groups condemned the constant violations of human rights by police and military against the population in Chile.  

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