Conservative presidential candidate José Antonio Kast of Chile denounced the growing pattern of leftist violence against his campaign on Thursday after a mob assaulted a group of his supporters at a campaign event and a separate leftist mob attacked him and a pregnant staffer Tuesday.
Kast won the first round of presidential elections in Chile on Sunday, but not by the 50 percent necessary to assume the presidency. He and the second-place finisher, far-leftist Gabriel Boric, are going on to a run-off vote to determine the winner, scheduled to occur December 19.
Kast’s victory and frontrunner status surprised mainstream political observers in the country, particularly given popular preference for his Republican Party over the center-right establishment and several other candidates closer to the ideology of current President Sebastián Piñera. In addition to his presidential election win, Chileans greatly reconfigured the makeup of their legislature, taking the Senate away from leftist parties entirely and greatly diminishing their influence in the lower chamber.
The conservative victories occurred after nearly two years of non-stop leftist terrorism and mob violence. Leftist mob leaders claimed the attacks – which included mass looting, burning down of churches, firebombing police stations, and assaults on residential communities – were a protest in response to Piñera proposing a metro fare hike in the capital of Santiago. Supporters of the violence incongruously demanded an entirely new national constitution in response, which Piñera has supported, but the creation of a constitutional convention in response to protests allegedly about public transit did not stop the rioting.
Kast is running on a platform largely fueled by policies that would empower police to properly handle leftist political violence.
The first incident of violence caught on tape against Kast and his supporters this week occurred on Tuesday in the commune, or municipality, of Lo Espejo, where Kast had arrived to visit with a local family. Kast’s visit was meant to highlight the plight of Chileans under a government-run healthcare system, as the family he visited included a patient awaiting years for treatment from the government.
A mob organized outside the home Kast was visiting and began hurling eggs and harder projectiles, shouting insults, and hitting the building he was in. When Kast and his team left the building, the mob shoved them, including a particularly violent moment in which a member of the mob was caught on film shoving Kast’s six-months-pregnant press adviser, Carolina Araya.
Kast published the video on his social media and identified the mob as supporters of Boric, a former student protest leader whose coalition includes the Communist Party of Chile.
“The violent ones believe themselves the owners of the country and will do whatever they can to keep terrorizing honest Chileans,” Kast asserted.
The candidate also posted a photo with Araya, noting, “Carola is a great journalist and is six months pregnant. Today, while she was doing her job, she was assaulted by cowards who think they have the right to hit a woman just because she works for someone who thinks differently from them.
The video does not show clearly who in the mob shoved Araya, but the latter appears to nearly fall over onto the pavement, saved by someone else on her staff. Kast identified the person responsible, however, as a councilwoman from a far-left political party known as “Democratic Revolution” that is also part of the Boric coalition.
La Carola es una gran periodista y tiene 6 meses de embarazo. Hoy, mientras hacía su trabajo, fue agredida por unos cobardes, que creen que tienen derecho a pegarle a una mujer solo por el hecho de trabajar con alguien que piensa distinto a ellos. pic.twitter.com/ZgR7LjkpCF
— José Antonio Kast Rist 🇱 (@joseantoniokast) November 25, 2021
Boric, according to the Argentine news site Infobae, issued a statement on the matter claiming, “I have also had to live through similar situations in different sectors and I think that, in a democracy, we have to converse with ideas and not assaults.”
A more violent incident occurred Thursday night, this time at a meeting of Kast supporters the candidate did not actually attend in O’Higgins, a region south of Santiago. Another leftist mob organized, surrounding an event venue where Kast supporters had gathered. The mob attacked with eggs and rocks, this time destroying at least two vehicles, one victim’s cellular phone, and resulting in minor injuries.
“The event was organized for 6:30 p.m. and already by 6:15 through 9 p.m., when it ended and we left, there were protests, non-peaceful manifestations,” former Senate candidate and Kast supporter Macarena Matas, who attended the event, said afterwards. “[There were] attacks with eggs, death threats, and damage to private property, that is not a peaceful protest.”
Kast published video of the incident on Thursday, describing the attackers as Boric supporters.
“Today, Gabriel Boric partisans were to protest, beat, and assault our supporters on Rancagua [O’Higgins],” Kast wrote. “It is no longer a coincidence, violence as political action is becoming the habit of the candidate and his supporters. They lie, attack, and assault democracy.”
Hoy, partidarios de Gabriel Boric fueron a funar, golpear y agredir a adherentes nuestros en Rancagua. Ya no es casualidad, la violencia como acción política se está haciendo costumbre en el candidato y sus partidarios. Mienten, agreden y violentan la democracia. pic.twitter.com/1hN1Amknne
— José Antonio Kast Rist 🇱 (@joseantoniokast) November 26, 2021
“It is urgent that the candidate [Boric] commit to controlling the hate and violence of his people,” Kast demanded.
En los últimos días, ha habido un significativo aumento de la violencia política. El totalitarismo de los partidarios de Gabriel Boric está amenazando el proceso democrático. Es urgente que el candidato se comprometa a controlar el odio y la violencia de su gente pic.twitter.com/Sy6B7nZfPB
— José Antonio Kast Rist 🇱 (@joseantoniokast) November 26, 2021
Infobae noted at least one other incident of potential violence: the detention of a 22-year-old man at a campaign event prior to Kast’s arrival. Police found the man possessed a pellet gun, a switchblade, and brass knuckles.
Due to extensive police reform, much of it in response to the violent riots of the past two years, police were forced to immediately release the man as a court found his detention illegal and he is reportedly pursuing a case against the police for a human rights violation, according to Infobae.
The attacks on Kast highlight the growing threats of physical violence against conservatives running for office throughout South America. The most notable example of this violence was the caught-on-camera assassination attempt against then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. A socialist stabbed Bolsonaro in the abdomen during a campaign event in September 2018, nearly killing him, and later claimed God had commanded him to do it. Bolsonaro won the election but continues to require medical attention for the damage done.