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Can Chile overcome the current challenges?

Chile, Chilean, Wallmapu, Mapuche ethnic group, Araucanía

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Can Chile overcome the current challenges?

Can Chile overcome the current challenges? In any case, there are already warnings about the risks of visiting Chile, coming as tourists or proposing safe investments in our territory. Writes Juan Pablo Cárdenas

It cannot be ignored that violence has severely infiltrated relations between Chileans, seriously affecting social peace. Not only conflicts of a political nature are expressed with a high degree of radicalism, but also the phenomenon of common delinquency plagues the life of the Capital and the big cities with cruel and cowardly actions. Elderly people are assaulted in their homes, burglaries that do not even respect mothers and their children, as well as the increasingly repeated femicides. There are no longer safe neighborhoods and people are even afraid to walk in the streets and squares.

We are not yet considered one of the most violent countries in the world or in our region, although we seem not to be a long way from that, at the mercy as we already are of drug gangs and the growing corruption of our police. In any case, there are already warnings about the risks of visiting Chile, coming as tourists or proposing safe investments in our territory.

Of course, we agree that violence must be combated with more social justice and equality. It is clear that there is still a huge gap between those who have a lot and those who lack the most basic necessities for a dignified survival. It is also indisputable that problems as important as that of Araucanía deserve more political and economic solutions than repressive ones. That the pacification of Wallmapu will not depend on the Armed Forces settling permanently in the area; three centuries of history guarantee that our Mapuche ethnic group never surrenders to the invasions and dispossessions caused by the State and the most powerful companies in their ancestral territory.

Legitimate social mobilizations clearly end in increasingly violent confrontations with the police, even though it is observed that the majority of those protesting do so peacefully. It cannot be overlooked that it is a serious absurdity that these street demands culminate in destroyed schools, razed shops and even churches consumed by flames. If someone were to calculate the effect on the country of the hundreds of public transport buses set on fire, the vandalism of Metro stations, as well as the immense amount of agricultural, forestry and industrial machinery destroyed, they could probably conclude that the losses are equivalent to several points of GDP. Or it has caused the same damage as several earthquakes and other natural disasters that accompany our seismic and fragile condition.

To all this must be added the victims, those who overnight lose their lives, their businesses and family belongings. Such is the case of so many shopkeepers and ordinary people who in most cases have nothing to do with the political contingent. Even children are killed or wounded when bullets penetrate their modest homes and are fired by the increasingly lethal police and armed gangs.

We all have in our minds what has happened in recent years, especially under the administration of a head of state possessed by greed and contempt for human rights. The Chamber of Deputies has just condemned him for his crimes against humanity and corruption, in an indictment that will at least leave a record in our history and place him alongside Pinochet and our most murderous rulers greedy for power and wealth.

The bad thing about all this is that peace can no longer be the task of a new government alone. Even less so if the so-called political class is unable to grasp the tragic insecurity affecting the country. As long as the right does not accept that violence is rooted in the inequality fed by an entire system. That the discontent and frustration lie in the miserable pensions, the meagre salaries, the health care co-opted by the profit motive and so many other endemic expressions of the savage capitalism imposed by the dictatorship and sacralized by the “democratic” governments that followed.

Nor will there be a solution as long as the left does not accept its

responsibility for the development of violence. In letting so many criminals infiltrate their militants or sympathizers. Empowered, as the parties and movements are, by the fear of being branded as sell-outs, practicing an outrageous cynicism. Worse, in some cases, than the attitude of those right-wingers who in Piñera’s final hour pull out of La Moneda and assume the imposture of being moved by the situation of the poorest and most excluded Chileans, in a mere electioneering eagerness. And they even give some votes to the proposals of the opposition in Parliament that now, very belatedly, try to force some structural reforms after thirty years of constant delays. For example, just consider that a new administration is coming to an end without the long-demanded reforms to the pension and health systems.

Because violence is undoubtedly also rooted in the inconsistency of those in power and political leaders. What a spectacle we have witnessed in these last pre-electoral weeks, both in the Executive and in Parliament! How human misery has manifested itself in those who can no longer be re-elected and who do not intend to continue in La Moneda or in the legislative benches. Rebelling now, for example, against the resolutions of their parties, after long years of laziness. Once they have “made it” and, of course, enjoyed incomes and perks almost forty times higher than the salaries of millions of workers.

We dare to predict that, contrary to what is said, these elections will not turn out to be so different from the previous ones. There is a high probability that a minority government will be elected, with little democratic representation, as well as a set of legislators with very little ideological consistency and who, in a short time, may be possessed by the indolence, futile differences and the same voracity of their predecessors. That they continue to display Pinochet’s great constitutional trap, that is, by conceiving and handing over the so-called “public service” to a caste of the nouveau riche and privileged. With the exceptions that we can no doubt expect.

Will Chile be able to calm down if everything indicates that after the latest withdrawals of its pensions and pandemic bonuses, the economic situation of the people will become more critical? With inflation, unemployment and no improvement in, for example, wages and pensions.

Is this not how we are heading towards a new social explosion?

Juan Pablo Cárdenas Squella es un periodista y profesor universitario de vasta trayectoria. En el 2005 recibió en premio nacional de Periodismo y, antes, la Pluma de Oro de la Libertad, otorgada por la Federación Mundial de la Prensa. También obtuvo el Premio Latinoamericano de Periodismo, la Houten Camara de Holanda (1989) entre otras múltiples distinciones nacionales y extranjeras. Forma parte de los sesenta periodistas del mundo considerados Héroes de la Libertad de Expresión, reconocimiento hecho por la Federación Internacional de Periodistas. Ha sido director y columnista de las revistas Debate Universitario, Análisis y Los Tiempos, así como del diario electrónico primeralínea.cl. También fue por más 18 años director de la Radio Universidad de Chile y de su diario digital. Se ha desempeñado como profesor de varias escuelas de periodismo de Santiago y Valparaíso y en la Universidad de Chile alcanzó el grado de profesor titular y senador Universitario.

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