SANTIAGO – Chilean President Sebastian Piñera signed on Sunday the necessary decrees lifting the state of emergency that has prevailed in several regions of the country, thus removing the military from the streets after it had been in charge of maintaining public order for more than a week, his office said.
“With the aim of contributing to Chile recovering its institutional normality, the president of the republic has signed the required decrees such that, starting at midnight on Monday, Oct. 28, the state of emergency will be lifted in all regions and communes in which it had been established,” the official document read.
With this decision, Piñera carried out what had been announced on Saturday, namely the fact that he intended for the start of the coming week to remove the military from being in charge of national security.
Piñera decreed a state of emergency for the first time since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990 in Santiago on Friday night, Oct. 18, the day on which massive protests – including riots, fires and looting – erupted in Chile.
The decision to issue the emergency decree, the president explained, was made to reestablish public order in the capital and elsewhere around the country.
The protests, which have left at least 19 people dead, including six foreigners, continued in Santiago and elsewhere after the cancellation of the hike in the capital’s Metro fares, the measure that had sparked violent public outrage over inequality and social injustice.
At the critical moment of the military operation, all regions of the country, except the southern Aysen area, had troops deployed in some city or district to help keep public order.
The presence of the troops, which was later augmented with curfews, was vehemently rejected by the public and recalled for the first time in almost 30 years the darkest days of the dictatorship.
The public’s rejection of the military deployment was a constant during the 10 days of protest.
During the protests, more than 1,000 people were injured, almost half of them by tear gas, rubber bullets and even regular gunfire. In addition, authorities arrested more than 3,000 people, according to figures from the National Human Rights Institute, an independent public entity that is monitoring the protests.