On April 27, the Chilean national police force, the Carabineros, violently repressed a peaceful protest at the Dignity Plaza in the capital Santiago. The protest was called for by several social organizations against the Carabineros on their 93rd anniversary and against the right-wing government led by President Sebastián Piñera.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of Chileans, wearing face masks and maintaining social distance, gathered at the iconic Dignity Plaza, to express their rejection of the Carabineros, on their 93rd anniversary. The protesters expressed their repudiation of the police force by banging pots and pans.
However, they were soon repressed by the officials of the Carabineros, with tear gas and water cannons.
Local media reported that around 30 people were detained. Among those detained was Dr. Pablo Sepulveda Allende, grandson of former socialist President Salvador Allende, who despite having accreditation as a doctor, was taken into custody by the police, along with members of the Cruz Bellavista health brigade.
Various social, human rights and health organizations, such as the Network in Defense of Humanity (REDH) and the graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine in Chile (ELAM), denounced their arbitrary arrest and demanded their freedom. Hours later, they were released without charges.
Local media also reported the arrest of Nahuel Herane, a young boy who lost his eye last year during an anti-government protest and became a national and international symbol of the human rights violations suffered by Chilean citizens. TeleSUR’s correspondent Paola Dragnic reported that the police officials “took him to his house and beat his mother.”
Carabineros of Chile have been fiercely condemned by national and international organizations for committing serious human rights violations during the five months of social uprising in the country.
According to the last data issued by the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) in Chile, between October 18, 2019, the day protests against neoliberal economic policies broke out nationwide, and February 18, 2020, due to heavy police repression, 31 people died, 10,365 people were arrested, 6,158 were severely injured, 445 suffered eye injury and vision loss, 520 were tortured and threatened, 197 were sexually harassed and 1,073 were dealt with excessive force.
A day before, on April 26, a group of 50 people staged a protest at the Dignity Plaza, rejecting the postponement of the entry plebiscite for a new constitution that was scheduled to be held on the day. Despite the fact that the demonstration was carried out peacefully, 13 people were detained by the Carabineros on the pretext of violating the health measures decreed due to the pandemic that allows the gathering of 50 people.
In view of the health emergency due to the novel coronavirus, the Chilean Congress, in late March, approved to reschedule the plebiscite to October 25.