Chile. For most of the year, intense student demonstrations raged in protest of the government’s education policy. Among the most important requirements were guarantees for the quality of education and that the private element in the education sector is reduced. According to Countryaah official site, the central student organization Confech protested that the current system favors private initiatives and causes segmentation, exclusion and discrimination to the detriment of public education. One of the most prominent protest leaders, Camila Vallejo, also called for a more socially responsible tax policy with higher taxes for high-income earners to pay for the upgrading of public education. Confech’s criticism of the social divisions in which the education system is characterized was supported by both a report from UNESCO’s Latin America department in December and from the Chilean teachers’ union, which on October 9 held an unofficial referendum with one million participants in support of the public education sector. About the same time, Chile’s economic and social inequality was also highlighted in reports by both the OECD, the UN and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As part of the protests, some sixty protesters stormed the old congress building in the capital Santiago on October 20 to demand immediate reforms by Education Minister Felipe Bulnes personally. The storm did not turn violent and the police did not intervene, mainly because Senate President Guido Girardi supported citizens’ right to stay in a public institution’s premises.
The 2012 budget, which was finally voted through Congress in early December, included an increase in education grants totaling the equivalent of $ 12 billion, which was 10% more than a year earlier. The appropriations for higher education increased by 26%, but within Confech they were not satisfied.
The government was also confronted with intense protests in January in the southernmost region of Magallanes. The protests concerned a 17% increase in the price of domestic gas.
Referendum clearly gives yes to new constitution
An overwhelming majority of Chileans are voting for a new constitution to replace the old one, which is associated with the military dictatorship. Just over 78 percent of voters say yes in the referendum that was announced after the big wave of protests that erupted in the autumn of 2019. Voters also support the proposal that the draft constitution should be written by an assembly consisting only of elected citizens, and not by one that also includes parliamentarians. The assembly with 155 members will be elected in April 2021 and will have one year to write a constitution, which will then be submitted to a new referendum.
Violent protests on the anniversary of riots
Demonstrations are being held on the day one year after the first more extensive events that grew into a wave of protests in the autumn of 2019. It begins peacefully but gradually violence breaks out in several places. Two churches are set on fire, one of which is in principle destroyed, and a police station is subjected to an arson attack. Several shops are looted and 18 police officers are injured.
Corona restrictions in Santiago ease
Some restrictions imposed due to the corona pandemic are lifted for the majority of the metropolitan area’s seven million inhabitants. Among other things, bars and restaurants are allowed to reopen, and public transport is starting to roll. But state of emergency still prevails, schools and universities remain closed, no tourists are allowed to enter the country and curfews at night still prevail in several places. Chile is one of the countries in the world hardest hit by the corona pandemic. With over 12,000 people killed in covid-19, the country ranks fifth in the world in terms of deaths per capita.
Severe cancer in the second quarter
The economy shrank by 14.1 percent during the second quarter of the year, the central bank reports. Not least the manufacturing and construction industries as well as the hotel and restaurant sector were hit hard by the corona pandemic. However, the important mining sector has performed well and grown somewhat. The number of new cases of corona infection is now declining and the economy has gradually begun to recover. The number of deaths in covid-19 amounts to just over 10,500, while 387,000 have been registered as infected.