Chile faces severe property damage and business interruption as riots continue
Cities across Chile have witnessed a rapid escalation of protests into widespread public disorder, fatalities and severe property damage over the past two weeks. The disturbance began in Santiago on Monday 14 October as students protested the government’s announcement of a 4% increase in the Metro de Santiago’s subway fares, Santiago's main means of transport, including the coordination of a mass evasion of the Metro fare.
By Friday 18 October, violence and destruction had taken over the streets of Santiago. Of the city’s 136 Metro stations, 80 were looted and/or severely damaged, dozens were set on fire and 11 were totally burned. Metro estimates its damages at US$300 million.
Public disorder spread to other cities, and on Saturday 19 October a state of emergency and curfew was decreed in Santiago, Valparaíso, and Concepción, and the Chilean Army and police forces were deployed to safeguard order and security.
Riots and street violence have persisted in the subsequent days, with citizen protests occurring throughout the country. By Tuesday 22 October, 335 of Chile’s 1,370 supermarkets had been attacked, robbed and/or burned down. Chains of pharmacies, gas distributors, department stores, shopping centers, bank branches, ATMs and public and private spaces, among others, have also been affected.
Although the origin of the crisis was the rise in public transport fares, demonstrators are also protesting the high cost of living, the price of transport and medicines, working hours and low pensions, as well as a general rejection of the political class. It is clear that the Metro far rise was the trigger that revealed a deeper crisis that had incubated silently.
The interruption of the Metro service in Santiago has created a domino-effect throughout the city; public transport provision has been severely affected, employees have struggled to get to work, and as a consequence, the supply of food, gas, banking and public services have slowed, bringing the economy to a near standstill. In addition, classes have been suspended in the majority of schools throughout most of the country.
On Tuesday 22 October, President Sebastián Piñera summoned the leaders of the main Chilean political parties to a meeting aimed at finding a solution to the crisis. Some left-wing parties (Socialists, Communists and Frente Amplio) declined to attend the meeting.
Having gathered proposals from the political parties, mayors, leaders of civil organizations and powers of the State, the President apologized to the citizens of Chile for having not foreseen this crisis and presented a "social agenda" that contains administrative and legislative measures in 10 different areas, assuring that the government had listened to "the legitimate demands" of the citizens.
Crawford Chile has deployed its team of professionals in Santiago and other affected cities to help restore lives, businesses and communities.
Pablo Campino Edwards
Country Manager, Chile
T: +56 267 69320
M: +56 9933 11806
Regional Head, Latin America
Chief Client Officer, Global Client Development
T: +44 207 265 4041
M: +44 7919 552624