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  • Soldiers patrol streets after a protest against the increase in subway ticket prices in Santiago, Chile, October 19, 2019.

    Soldiers patrol streets after a protest against the increase in subway ticket prices in Santiago, Chile, October 19, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 October 2019

Progressive politicians pointed out that the "state of emergency" declaration shows that President Sebastian Piñeira lacks the political capabilities to resolve popular requests.

Armed soldiers are patrolling the streets of Santiago Saturday after President Sebastian Piñera decreed a state of emergency to contain citizen protests against increased subway fares.

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Chile: President Announces State of Emergency

General Javier Iturriaga del Campo was informed that his troops would be concentrated on surveillance operations in the city's most conflictive areas.

As a result, people can move to their homes during daylight hours because the curfew has not been declared so far.

"The recommendation for people is that they can go to their homes with their families," he said and added that "we are taking over."

Over the last 11 days, the Santiago subway has been the scene of manifestations of discontent, for students called to evade the payment of tickets.

"I am not Chilean but I am living in Santiago. This country has welcomed my family and me. All this situation makes me sad. This sort of aggression should not happen. He is just a student and possibly a minor. State of Emergency."

Friday's protests acquired new nuances as citizens raised barricades in the streets and confronted the Chilean militarized police. As a result, hundreds of people were arrested and injured.

The last time Chile experienced a state of emergency was in 2010, when the population carried out some looting after the earthquake.

Prior to that date, a state of emergency was declared 30 years ago during the military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet.

Justified as a measure to control disturbances, the state of emergency is in force in the province of Santiago, in the province of Chacabuco and in the municipalities of Puente Alto and San Bernardo.

"The State of Emergency is a last resort measure. The government has many other tools available to calm things down," Lucia Dammert, a public security expert at the University of Santiago, criticized.

The Communist Party lawmaker Boris Barrera said that the state of emergency is a resounding failure because it shows that the Piñeira administration has no political answers to popular demands and has to resort to instruments used by the dictatorship.

Likewise, in response to the official announcement to invoke the State Security Law, the Socialist Party regretted that President Piñeira's response is more repression.

"Nothing justifies excesses. With its attitude, however, the executive deepens the feeling of abuse and repeats a formula which already failed during his first presidential term," the PS said.

"We condemn that authorities have not responded by promoting dialogue. The citizen's fatigue is motivated by a continuous increase in basic services prices, which has sharply affected the Chilean families' life quality ."

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