Chile Extends Curfew as Santiago Paralyzed by Unrest

CNN / Youtube

In his interview with CNN International, Michael Shifter discusses the protests in Chile and the response by the government of Sebastián Piñera. This crisis marks a before and after for the country. The political class will have to rethink some of its policies to respond to the demands and expectations of the Chilean citizens.

Comments by Michael Shifter: 

“The trigger for the protests in Chile was an increase in the fare of the metro, but obviously the underlying causes are much more profound. This is a country that is widely seen as the most prosperous in Latin America, the GDP per capita income is $20,000, which is the highest in Latin America, and yet there are profound differences and disparities between the rich and the poor, and I think that the people that haven’t received the benefits of this Chilean boom feel that they deserve their rightful share. The pension problem is also tremendous, political disenchantment with the political class, greater distance between the citizens and their representatives…”

“These situations acquire a dynamic of their own, and it is almost impossible to predict how far they are going to go.”

“All the polls show us that many Chileans are unhappy, that they feel that the benefits of economic growth have been unfairly distributed and they haven’t gotten their share. This really provoked a much broader outburst and upraising in the streets. As always in these situations, there are those that have very legitimate grievances, and there are others protesting that are looking for destruction and don’t have a political agenda.”

“There is a problem of being a bit tone-deaf [referring to Piñera] and I think that was extremely unfortunate, and I think it reflects the kind of distance there is between this government and the political establishment in general, and what is happening to the citizens of Chile.”

“I think the test will be to see how they address some of these fundamental challenges, that people knew they were there but they thought they could go on sweeping them under the rug and not dealing with them.”

“These protests really mark a before and after where Chile has to change its course and has to rethink some of these policies to try to respond to the demands and expectations that many Chileans feel.”

Watch the full interview here

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˙Michael Shifter