SANTIAGO – President Sebastian Piñera announced on Wednesday the cancellation of the APEC and COP25 summits due to the massive protests and demonstrations that have occurred in Chile over the past 13 days.
“Our government, with deep sadness because this is painful for Chile, has decided not to hold either the APEC summit that was scheduled for November or the COP25 (summit), which was scheduled for December,” said Piñera in a public statement.
The leaders of the nations belonging to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) were scheduled to gather in Santiago on Nov. 16-17, while the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) was to be held there from Dec. 2-13.
Piñera said that he made this “difficult” decision to be able to focus the government’s efforts on fully reestablishing public order in the country and to push forward with the social agenda he has proposed to reduce the tension on the streets.
“We deeply feel and regret the problems and the inconveniences that this decision will mean both for the APEC and for the COP, but as president of all Chileans I always must put first the problems and the interests of Chileans, their needs, yearnings and hopes,” he said.
For almost the past two weeks, Chile has been in the throes of a social upheaval with frequent massive demonstrations, some of which have turned violent and resulted in about 20 deaths, as well as hundreds of people injured and arrested.
Piñera reiterated Chile’s “total and absolute” commitment to APEC, a forum consisting of 21 nations around the Pacific Rim to which Chile ships 73 percent of its exports.
“It’s not a forum that only interests the leaders, it’s a forum that interests all Chileans, more than 40,000 Chilean companies participate in foreign trade and create more than 2.8 million jobs that are necessary for Chilean families,” he emphasized.
The APEC summit had been selected by US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, as the event at which they would sign the first phase of a trade pact designed to end their ongoing trade war.
Piñera also stressed his commitment to the climate summit, emphasizing Chile’s “clear and recognized” leadership in environmental issues.