28 de noviembre de 2020
Hispanic World

Chile stressing anti-violence, announces free metro trips for plebiscite

Santiago, Oct 21 (efe-epa).- Four days before the historic plebiscite to decide on whether a new constitution is needed in Chile, the government on Wednesday reiterated its call against violence, given the possibility of disturbances on voting day and announced that on that day metro transport in the capital of Santiago will be free.

 Chilean President Sebastián Piñera (c) and Interior Minister Victor Perez (r). EFE-EPA/Alberto Valdes/File

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera (c) and Interior Minister Victor Perez (r). EFE-EPA/Alberto Valdes/File

Santiago, Oct 21 (efe-epa).- Four days before the historic plebiscite to decide on whether a new constitution is needed in Chile, the government on Wednesday reiterated its call against violence, given the possibility of disturbances on voting day and announced that on that day metro transport in the capital of Santiago will be free.

"A violent minority who wants to destroy the country will not alter the decision of Chileans to take the path of democratic processes, which is where differences may be resolved," said Interiot Minister Victor Perez.

For the day of the referendum, Oct. 25, more than 25,000 members of the armed forces will be deployed all across the country, according to official sources, to deal with any potential attempts to disrupt the voting with demonstrations or other incidents.

The vote, whereby the public will be able to express their opinion as to whether Chile requires a new national charter, was set up to try and mitigate the current crisis prevailing in the South American country, where demonstrations, disturbances and episodes of violence have been going on for more than a year, leaving at least 30 people dead.

Last Sunday, Oct. 18, the date of the first anniversary of the so-called "social explosion" that marked the start of the riots and protests in 2019, assorted violent incidents were perpetrated such as the burning of churches, looting and rioting that tainted the huge peaceful march in which tens of thousands of people participated during the day.

"All expressions fomenting hatred are contrary to what we're advocating, above all on the eve of such an important plebiscite," government spokesman Jaime Bellolio said.

The vote, in which more than 14.5 million citizens are eligible to take part, is considered to be the most important in three decades of democracy since it opens up the possibility for jettisoning the current constitution, which was inherited from the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, a document considered by many to be the origin of the country's inequalities because of its neoliberal character.

In the upcoming referendum, voters will also have to select the type of entity that, within a maximum of one year, will draft the prospective new constitution, selecting either an assembly composed solely of elected citizens or a mixed body in which lawmakers also participate.

The unexpected announcement making metro trips free in the Chilean capital on voting day was the main issue of the day on which the details of the vote were being finalized. The balloting had originally been scheduled for last April but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We've been working and there's going to be an extraordinary budget allocation so that on Sunday we can have free metro service," Bellolio said.

The proposal, implemented because of the precarious economic situation of many families amid the crisis caused by the pandemic, sparked discussion between the government - which initially had rejected the option due to a "lack of time" - and the opposition, which said that making metro fares gratis was "fundamental" to ensure that people go to the polls.

"It's very positive that on an historic day all measures possible are being undertaken so that people can safely get to the voting sites," said opposition lawmaker Carolina Marzan.

The measures will be implemented for the metro, which exists only in Santiago, and on the trains in the regions surrounding Valparaiso (some 100 kilometers - or 62 miles) from the capital and Concepcion (500 km or 310 miles away), but free public transportation will not be authorized in rural areas, and that has concerned the opposition.

"We had asked for complete free transportation to have a full participation plebiscite. People cannot (be allowed to) fail to vote because they don't have the money for the bus," said Social Democrat Heraldo Muñoz.

The discussion and disagreement highlighted the polarization of the political forces in the run-up to the vote, with the left lobbying for a new constitution and the right giving its candidates free rein to say what they want but with certain sectors emphasizing that the current charter should remain in effect.

The vote comes amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still in full swing in Chile, leading authorities to put together a plan with special health protocols to prevent the spread of the virus and establish a special voting schedule for the elderly, who are most vulnerable to the disease, which is often deadly to that group and other cohorts with comorbidities.

Other measures announced so far this week include the reduction of the curfew hours, a curfew that has been in place since the pandemic hit Chile in March.

Histórico de noticias
Iota deals another blow to Colombian archipelago's tourism amid pandemic

By Klarem Valoyes Gutierrez

Trump administration gives OK for Biden transition to formally begin

Washington, Nov 23 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Monday that he had given the green light to the government to formally allow the transition to...

Pandemic worsens gender violence against women in Ecuador

By Daniela Brik

Trump appeals case tossed in Pennsylvania, hoping to get it to Supreme Court

Washington, Nov 22 (efe-epa).- The reelection campaign of President Donald Trump on Sunday appealed a court decision to throw out his most important...

Iota homeless in Colombia: between exodus and nights in the open

By Klarem Valoyes Gutierrez

Colombian island of Providencia devastated by Iota

Bogotá, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- The Colombian island of Providencia, a 17-square-kilometer paradise in the Caribbean Sea, has been almost entirely devastated by...

Pentagon confirms large troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in January

Washington, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- US Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller on Tuesday officially announced a partial withdrawal of US troops from...

Out-of-control Covid puts Trump up against urgent need to admit his election defeat

By Jairo Mejia

Obama's memoirs, a critical and optimistic look at a divided US

By Lucia Leal

Biden predicts more Covid-19 deaths if Trump continues blocking transition

By Lucia Leal

Hurricane Iota storm surge floods Cartagena streets

(Update 1: Updates headline, lede, adds information about Colombian islands, minor edits)

Kids with cancer, women, reporters: The forgotten ones amid Covid in Mexico

By Miquel Muñoz

Dustin Johnson notches Masters win

Augusta, Georgia, Nov 15 (efe-epa).- US golfer Dustin Johnson, ranked No. 1 in the world, on Sunday for the first time won the Master's Tournament, notching...

Trump admits Biden's win, then takes it back, insisting on election fraud

By Susana Samhan

Still reeling from Eta, Central America now bracing for Hurricane Iota

Tegucigalpa, Nov 15 (efe-epa).- Honduras is on "red alert" for the arrival of Hurricane Iota, which should make landfall as either a very powerful Category...

Pompeo in Paris to meet with Macron on 1st leg of Middle East tour

Paris, Nov 15 (efe-epa).- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday is in Paris, with a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron scheduled for the first...

El Salvador to aid Guatemala with aircraft to access Eta-hit zones

San Salvador, Nov 11 (efe-epa).- El Salvador's defense minister, Rene Merino Monroy, reported Wednesday that his country will support Guatemala with two...

Thousands anxious about leaving their flooded homes in SE Mexico

By Mitzi Mayauel Fuentes Gomez

Biden widens popular vote margin as Trump tries to delegitimize his win

Washington, Nov 11 (efe-epa).- The state of Georgia announced Wednesday that it will perform a manual recount of all ballots cast in last week's...

Apple unveils new MacBook Pro, Air, mini models using its M1 chips

By Marc Arcas

US Supreme Court suggests it will not overturn Obamacare

Washington, Nov 10 (efe-epa).- The US Supreme Court on Tuesday gave indications that it will allow to stand at least the major part of the 2010 health care...

Biden: Successful transition despite Trump's "embarrassing" defiance

(Update: Releads, recasts)

Dow Jones rockets to intraday high on Pfizer vaccine news, Biden win

By Nora Quintanilla

Esper, ex-defense chief who refused Trump on using Army to quash protests

Washington, Nov 9 (efe-epa).- US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was summarily fired on Monday by Donald Trump, will be remembered for having opposed the...