Monday, October 17th 2011 - 21:53 UTC

Military draft for 57.000 18-year olds in Chile, alleging students’ disruption

Chile is giving nearly 57.000 18-year-olds one month to report for potential military duty, saying the government needs to fill gaps in its armed forces because a nationwide student protest movement has reduced the number of volunteers it usually gets.

Vargas said the forces need a bigger pool to choose from to fill the 11.340 spots.

Military Service is compulsory in Chile, but there are usually enough volunteers to fill the ranks so that no one has to serve against their will.

So far this year, only 14,127 men and women born in 1993 have signed up, and Armed Forces deputy secretary Alfonso Vargas said they need a bigger pool to choose from to fill the 11.340 spots.

That's why 56.793 more teenagers will need to report in a month for potential duty in 2012, he explained on the draft office's website. Vargas blamed the student movement that has been campaigning since April for education reform for boycotting schools, and thus closing doors to military recruiters.

Brigadier Gen. Gunther Siebert, who directs Chile's military draft, also blamed the student movement in an interview published Monday in the El Mercurio newspaper, and said that 2.5 candidates are needed for every spot because many can't serve for physical or other reasons.

But Chile's military also had a shortage last year, before the movement began, and at that time they called up fewer than 39,000 for the draft.

Unlike in some other countries, attending a university does not enable Chilean 18-year-olds to avoid the draft. The only exceptions are physical limitations, providing the primary income for a family, being married or expecting a child; being convicted of an “immoral” crime, or being the child of someone imprisoned or tortured by Chile's 1973-1990 dictatorship.
 

6 comments Feed

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1 GeoffWard2 (#) Oct 18th, 2011 - 10:43 am Report abuse
One could imagine that service in the Chilean armed forces could give many the education they have been rejecting during their university years.
2 rylang23 (#) Oct 18th, 2011 - 03:17 pm Report abuse
Oh Geoff... if you can't see that this is a direct attack against the protestors, then you need to learn to read between the lines. The government rhetoric is “because of the protestors we will need to draft young people”, which is called “divide and conquer” in most political circles. Pinera is desperate to stop the protests as his numbers are in the tank, so he pits youth against youth. I hope this fails miserably.
3 GeoffWard2 (#) Oct 18th, 2011 - 06:13 pm Report abuse
Hi, ry,
sorry, I was being to opaque. I was being sarcastic, though you could be excused from seeing it because my postings on this matter have largely been supportive of law & order and the use of the democratic process to address the 'education issue'.
4 ElaineB (#) Oct 18th, 2011 - 08:05 pm Report abuse
I totally support the students right to protest peacefully. The problem here is the perception that the students represent the extreme left and the government is placed to the right. These extremes are sore wounds for a country that was so politically polarised in recent history. This move by Pinera will be seen to be reminiscent of some extreme measures that should well and truly belong in the past.
5 rylang23 (#) Oct 19th, 2011 - 12:02 am Report abuse
Thanks for the clarification, Geoff. I think I am a little prickly right now with reading too many negative comments about the Occupy Wall Street protests, which I, of course, support.
6 jerry (#) Oct 19th, 2011 - 04:31 am Report abuse
I do not see what the problem is - just let all of the students go to Argentina. Everything is free there, including education, medical benefits, and the government will give you a monthly allowance to live on.

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