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Chile awake': From protests to new president


2019 Chile protest among violent clashes


Petroleumworld 11 19 2021

As Chileans prepare to vote in a first round of presidential elections Sunday, this is a timeline since the start of the bloody protests in 2019 against inequality that led to a process to rewrite the country's dictatorship-era constitution.

- 2019: Violent clashes -

Protests in Chile's capital, Santiago, against a rise in metro fares on October 18, 2019 escalate into clashes between police and demonstrators angry at gaping social inequality.

Right-wing President Sebastian Pinera declares a state of emergency.

Soldiers are deployed in the city the following day for the first time since the end of the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Pinera -- a billionaire -- suspends the ticket price hike but protests and clashes continue.

- 'Chile is awake' -

The state of emergency is extended to other regions as protests spread with people chanting: "Chile is awake."

About 30 people die.

Pinera apologizes and announces more social spending on October 22, but a general strike begins with leaders demanding the military return to barracks.

After some 1.2 million Chileans take to the streets in Santiago on October 25, the curfew and state of emergency are lifted and Pinera reshuffles his cabinet.

But the street movement continues.

In November, Chile gives up hosting the APEC Asia Pacific economic summit and later the COP25 climate conference.

- Constitutional referendum -

In a breakthrough on November 15, lawmakers agree to a key opposition demand for a referendum on replacing Chile's Pinochet-era constitution.

The government follows this up in early December with a $5.5-billion social plan, and a month later the president announces reforms of the health system.

The United Nations, meanwhile, denounces multiple rights violations by police.

- 2020: New clashes -

After a period of calm despite demonstrations every Friday in Santiago, new clashes in late January 2020 turn deadly, with four people killed.

Violence erupts again on February 23 at Vina del Mar near Valparaiso, and then in early March in several other towns.

The president announces police reform.

- Virus, referendum put off -

Chile declares a "national disaster" in mid-March due to the pandemic, with protests paused and a referendum, originally scheduled for April, postponed until October.

The president carries out a fifth cabinet reshuffle.

- 'Yes' to new constitution -

On October 25, Chileans vote by nearly four to one (79 percent) for a new constitution be drawn up.

- 2021: More delays
In late March 2021, Chile locks down four-fifths of its population as the virus surges again. The election of the constituent assembly charged with revising the constitution is put off to mid-May.

- Indigenous leader -

A third of newly elected members of the constitutional convention are independents, with no group winning a majority.

Elisa Loncon, an academic from the indigenous Mapuche community, is elected to head the body which has a year to draw up a new constitution.

- New president -

The second anniversary of the October protests -- in the middle of the presidential campaign -- is marked by clashes and two new deaths.

Seven candidates are vying to replace Pinera in Sunday's poll.


By  AFP 11 18 2021



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