Chilean protests continue, government concessions aside

Authorities in Santiago, Chile experienced no respite from the ongoing protests. Last night’s demonstrations came despite President Sebastián Piñera’s most recent concession—the replacement of several key cabinet figures, including the ministers of Interior, Finance, and Economy. 

The pre-shuffled administration

Many of the replaced diplomats trace back to the Pinochet regime. Andres Chadwick, interior minister, is among this crowd. The Guardian reported in 2018 that he and minister Hernán Larraín Fernández supported and defended “the sevretive German enclave Colonia Dignidad…established by the fugitive Nazi office and paedophile Paul Schaefer in the early 60s.” Colonia Dignidad was a German-Chilean colony that raped, tortured, and murdered perceived opponents of the Pinochet regime. It was managed with assistance from fugitive Nazis after World War II. Chadwick was one of the cabinet members replaced on Monday.

A rich history

Piñera has served as both the 34th and 36th Chilean president. His estimated net worth stood at 2.8 billion dollars, according to Forbes. In 1982, during which Chile’s GDP fell fourteen percent and  unemployment exceeded twenty percent, he spent over three weeks in hiding over an alleged involvement in bank fraud. Chilean securities commission fined him over US $600,000 for purchasing stock with insider information. He sold most of his private holdings amidst his transition to president in 2014.

The October protests

Human rights groups have been asked to intervene on behalf of protestors. Thousands have been injured and arrested, and tens of casualties have been recorded. More than one hundred have suffered eye damage from police-fired projectiles. 

Unfulfilled demands

These events underlie the protest’s more general demands for increased socioeconomic equality. With the cabinet reshuffling having been proved, the administration is considering what exactly, apart from Piñera’s resignation, might quell the unrest, which has resulted in looting and vandalism in several areas.

New interior minister Gonzalo Blumel attempted to distance himself from former Pinochet apologist Chadwick by reaching out to Chile’s vast population of recent Caribbean immigrants.