Chile celebrated Tuesday the third anniversary of the social uprising that catapulted Gabriel Boric Font to the national center stage and eventually become president. The movement also had its martyrs from brutal police repression.
The riots left some 30 people dead and thousands wounded, many of them losing their eyesight. Looting and arson were also commonplace.
Students in Santiago took to the streets Tuesday while marches were staged in different parts of the country. The most crowded mobilization took place in the afternoon in Santiago's Plaza Italia, the epicenter of the social revolt three years ago. Some hooded demonstrators set up barricades around Plaza Italia and a large police squad dispersed them with gas and water.
In his speech from La Moneda, Boric urged Chileans to get out of the trenches and out of our comfort zone to interpret what happened and act.
It was not an anti-capitalist revolution nor was it a pure wave of violence. It was an expression of pain and of the fractures in our society to which politics has not known how to respond, he added regarding the 2019 protests which started after an increase in the price of the subway ticket.
Many excessive things were said and done, we attacked each other and there are many of us who feel that in that period things reached an extreme that they should not have reached, acknowledged Boric, a former student leader. He also admitted the reforms the revolt sought are still to be achieved.
There have been efforts during all these years, undoubtedly, I do not intend to deny it, but we still do not materialize the reforms that solve the weakness of the social rights of Chilean men and women and this is what the people tell us permanently in the street, he said.
The pandemic and the world crisis caused by the war in Ukraine have increased the fragility and the needs of the people, he added while reckoning his administration was focused on the most urgent issues affecting Chileans, such as tax reform and social rights.
Boric insisted violence was not the way to solve problems and defended the people's right to peaceful demonstration. He also condemned those who commit crimes under the umbrella of legitimate demands. Human rights violations are not acceptable and at the same time, Carabineros have our full support to fight crime and ensure public order; there is no dichotomy, he underlined.