December 2, 2019

FAQs: what you need to know about the current situation in Chile

FAQs: what you need to know about the current situation in Chile
Find out here official information related to the actions taken by the Government of Chile to face the current situation in the country.

1. What has been the focus of government action?

In response to citizen demands, President Piñera has defined three key areas of focus:

A Social Agenda to provide benefits for vulnerable sectors of the population, the middle class, senior citizens and the most disadvantaged. The measures include higher pensions, an increase in the minimum wage, a reduction and freeze on the prices of basic services, and healthcare benefits. Visit the official website and collect more information about the Social Reform in Spanish 

An Agreement for Peace and against violence to restore public order and safety, within a framework of respect for and protection of human rights. Visit the official website and collect more information about the Safety Agenda in Spanish 

An Agreement for a New Constitution, within the framework of the country’s democratic institutions, with clear and effective citizen participation and ratification through a plebiscite to enable citizens to take part in the writing of a new constitution. This will also allow citizens to have the final say in approving this new constitution and building a new social contract.

2. What actions has the government taken in response to social demands?

The government has announced and launched a series of measures to respond to the different social demands, including:

Suspension of the increase in public transport fares; stabilization of electricity prices; economic and financial support for SMEs that have been affected by the violence; a bill to set a guaranteed minimum monthly wage of 350,000 pesos; a 50% increase in pensions to be implemented gradually; a 50% reduction in public transport fares for senior citizens; an 11% increase in per capita spending on primary healthcare and greater resources for primary healthcare for senior citizens. Visit the official website and collect more information about the Social Agenda in Spanish 

3. How does the rule of law operate in Chile?

In its recent history, Chile has enjoyed great political and economic stability, characterized by a strong democracy, the rule of law and a commitment to human rights. Chile is a democratic republic with a representative government comprising three branches – executive, legislature and judiciary - and independent institutions such as the Constitutional Tribunal, the National Prosecutor’s Office and the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic. This provides a system of checks and balances that ensures full and unhindered respect for the law. This has remained unchanged since the events of October 2019, guaranteeing the primacy of the rule of law throughout the country.

4. What has Chile done as regards human rights?

Chile has an unwavering commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. Following the first acts of violence in October, invitations were extended to prestigious and respected human rights organizations, such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The country is fully committed to truth and justice, working always through the institutions that uphold the rule of law.

 A number of preventative and corrective measures have also been taken to safeguard human rights, such as an update of protocols on the use of force, unrestricted access to information and independence in investigations by human rights organizations, a commitment to assist victims, and the creation of a Human Rights Technical Advisory Committee, in conjunction with Chilean and international organizations, representatives of civil society and academics. Visit the official website and collect more information about the Undersecretary of Human Rights in Spanish 

5. What is the government doing as regards public safety and order ?

Public safety and order are central to the government’s agenda and it has implemented a number of measures to strengthen social peace.

More than 4,500 additional Carabineros (uniformed police officers) have been deployed on the streets to safeguard public order and protect citizens.

The government has also presented bills to increase sanctions for those demonstrating or engaging in acts of violence with their faces covered, for looting and for erecting barricades.

The President is also promoting the modernization of Carabineros and the National Intelligence System.

A further bill would allow the armed forces to assist in protecting critical infrastructure, enabling military personnel to safeguard public services such as hospitals, drinking water plants and telecommunications systems, as occurs in various other countries around the world. Visit the official website and collect more information about the Safety and Social Peace Agenda in Spanish 

6. How will Chile’s constitutional process work?

On November 15, a broad group of government and opposition political parties signed an Agreement for Social Peace and a New Constitution. This agreement outlined a roadmap for a new Constitution. The process includes a plebiscite in April 2020 to approve or reject the proposal to draw up a new constitution and, if approved, the type of body responsible for writing it. This could be a convention formed exclusively by delegates elected by citizens (100%) or a combination of members of Congress (50%) and delegates elected by popular vote (50%).

If the proposal for a new constitution is approved, representatives to the constitutional convention will be chosen in an open election in October 2020.

The body elected will have the sole purpose of writing a new constitution and will be dissolved once its work has been completed.

Once the new Constitution has been drafted, its ratification will be subject to a plebiscite, with universal suffrage, in which voting will be compulsory.  Visit the official website and collect more information about the constitutional process in Spanish