Spanish – The coat of arms Chile reads “by reason or by force.” Historically it has entailed using the army to maintain order. Today, it characterizes demonstrators in the streets who do not concede. President Piñera succumbed to the protestors on political and economic matters. He even offered to change the constitution. But in the streets, they are asking for his head, literally, in the style of the French Revolution. The security forces are the ones putting their bodies on the line, and they are the immediate target. This unleashes the doubt: is it a provocation?
The demonstrators are trying to draw parallels between Piñera’s government and that of General Augusto Pinochet. They even claim that they cannot continue to live under a constitution decreed under a dictatorship. There are signs that they are trying to confront the security forces hoping that the latter will respond with greater strength, and the protestors can justify the supposed return of authoritarianism.
But the reality is different. There was a left-wing government in Chile from 2000, not one of Augusto Pinochet but that of Ricardo Lagos. The constitution has undergone several changes since then and barely resembles the constitution of 1980.
This exposes not only the ideological nature of the protests, but also the shortcomings of the civic and historical education system and above all the predominance communist teachers who have trained their students to become what they are today: a subversive group that pursues a supposed class struggle in an attempt to break the institutional order of the most prosperous country in the region.
On Wednesday, 13th November alone, 42 police officers were injured. Since the protests began on 18th October, there have been a total of 1,753 cases of injuries.
One hundred have serious injuries, ranging from burns to gunshot wounds and even acid wounds and fractures. In a shocking incident, two policewomen were shot in the face with Molotov cocktails.
Since 18th October, there have been 14,582 detainees, of whom 3,500 are for robberies.
So far, the most important cause of death among civilians has precisely been fires during robberies. Five people were killed during the fire at a ransacked factory in Renca. Meanwhile, two women were burned in a burgled supermarket in the commune of San Bernardo, and a young man was electrocuted in the same way.
— Carabineros de Chile (@Carabdechile) November 15, 2019
However, the prevailing narrative is that it is the security forces who kill, and this discourse seems to serve to generate an ever-increasing rejection of the police and the army.
The army showed a direct attack on its facilities on social media. In response, one social media user expressed an opinion that is increasingly common: the protestors are trying to provoke the armed forces to get a reaction and validate their claims of a supposed dictatorship.
#NoMasViolencia: Como Institución condenamos el ataque violento del cual fue objeto la Escuela de Ingenieros en #SanAntonio. Actos como este no contribuyen a un clima de paz entre chilenos. pic.twitter.com/j27psXMlkf
— Ejército de Chile (@Ejercito_Chile) November 12, 2019
Following the attack, the army warned that “in the event of new attacks on military facilities in any part of the country, the forces will respond adequately with legitimate self-defense, using the capabilities made available to the personnel who guard these facilities to protect personnel, infrastructure, equipment, and public goods delivered by the state.”
Audio clips of Rene Patricio Quilhot Palma are already circulating on social media where Quilhot, who was Pinochet’s aide, calls on the army to fulfill its role as the moral reserve of society when confronted with a government that has not shown the courage necessary to confront those who seek to destroy its leader, the nation, and the entire republican structure.
“Be careful what you wish for,” the popular saying goes. The Chilean left is fuelling the protests in the streets by trying to resurrect Pinochet’s image to justify its fight against a supposed military dictatorship.
And they are pushing the security forces to a limit where they would effectively have to pacify the streets “by reason or by force.”
#Santiago: Durante patrullaje aéreo de Carabineros, pilotos del helicóptero institucional son afectados por emisiones láser, actitud que constituye un delito sancionado por el Código Aeronáutico, pues supone un riesgo para la seguridad del vuelo y la salud de los tripulantes. pic.twitter.com/7xYI9T4fKo
— Carabineros de Chile (@Carabdechile) November 9, 2019