Chile: Leftist Mob Attacks Conservative Rally Week Before Presidential Election

Chilean presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast, from the Partido Republicano party , spe

An angry mob of leftists assaulted supporters of conservative presidential candidate José Antonio Kast in Santiago, Chile, in broad daylight on Sunday, pelting them with rocks and attempting to beat them publicly.

The conservatives had organized a peaceful rally in Santiago’s Plaza Italia in anticipation of the presidential election on December 19. Kast, as part of a coalition led by his conservative Republican Party, will face off against Gabriel Boric, a leftist organizer whose Broad Front coalition includes the Communist Party of Chile. Kast won in the first round of presidential voting last month but not by the 50 percent necessary to avoid a run-off against Boric, who came in second place.

The Associated Press

Chilean presidential candidate Gabriel Boric, of the political alliance “Apruebo Dignidad,” or I Approve of Dignity, speaks to supporters during a closing campaign rally in Casablanca, Chile, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

The incident on Sunday follows weeks of violent mob attacks on suspected or known conservatives in the country – and over a year of violent leftist mobs burning churches, looting, and vandalizing public areas in alleged protest against centrist President Sebastián Piñera.

Videos from the incident on Sunday show a relatively small group of Kast supporters in the center of the Plaza Italia cheering and waving campaign flags when a group of young men on foot, followed by a large group of men on bicycles, attack the congregation. The individuals on foot rush in to physically assault the rallygoers while those on bicycles surround the area. Others appear to throw rocks into the crowd to hurt the conservatives.

The assailants clearly opposed the rally for political reasons, but no evidence suggests any direct ties to the Boric campaign. Local reports from China described the attacks as “Boric supporters,” however.

Local police responded to the violence by deploying a water cannon. The Republican Party, in a statement, confirmed that two Kast supporters were injured in the mob attack. Police made no arrests.

A Republican Party councilman, Felipe Ross, also shared video of the event, explaining, “today we organized a rally … a totally family-friendly and pacific campaign activity until Boric supporters showed up who think themselves the owners of the public space. Who is the fascist again?” Ross has referred to attacks by Boric supporters and leftists generally against Kast, referencing his German background.

Kast also shared video of the assault, asserting, “Plaza Italian doesn’t belong to violent vandals. It belongs to all Chileans.”

“I lament the beatings and stone attacks by supporters of Gabriel Boric against the young people who went out to support us today,” Kast wrote on Sunday. “Enough violence! Enough impunity!”

The Republican Party itself issued a statement condemning the incident and the “totalitarian spirit of those who do not respect those who think differently and think themselves owners of a place.”

“The cowardly aggression they [Kast supporters] suffered at the hands of the violent is simply unacceptable,” the statement read in part, according to the Argentine news outlet Infobae. “We understand the desperation of the supporters of the Communist Party and Broad Front candidate, but that does not give them the right to barrel through anything in front of them if their objectives aren’t met and their campaign collapses.”

The Republican Party’s statement claimed that all of the attackers involved were under 30 years old and that they specifically brutalized senior citizens.

Infobae noted that Boric responded to the incident by urging both sides to avoid violence, despite the fact that nearly every incidence of election-related violence in the past month was committed by leftists.

“We cannot let a campaign divide us. I ask both sides to maintain the debate in the realm of ideas and proposals, and that we never come to acts of violence,” Boric said in a statement. “We all love Chile and we want the best for our country.”

Boric’s party, Approve Dignity, issued a counter-statement to the Republican Party’s asserting that Kast was responsible for a “dirty campaign based on lies” in the aftermath of the leftist assaults on conservatives.

Several violent incidents occurred not only against Kast supporters, but against Kast and his staffers themselves, in late November, shortly after the first round of voting. In one incident, a violent mob organized outside of a home where Kast was making a campaign appearance and attacked his staffers and security, including his pregnant press adviser. That same week, Kast supporters south of Santiago attempted to attend a campaign event but were met with violent leftists outside of the venue, who destroyed at least two vehicles and attacked the individuals identified as being present to attend the event.

Chile, for years a standout in Latin America in economic success and peaceful development, experienced an extremely violent past two years after radical leftists began protesting against a proposed subway fare hike in Santiago. The protests about public transit rapidly evolved into firebombing metro stations and demands to scrap the nation’s constitution, which Piñera indulged, leading to even more violence. Leftist mobs targeted Catholic Churches for destruction in particular, leaving unanswered what role the Vatican plays in setting Chilean public transit fare prices.

Kast is running on promises to rein in leftist violence and support for communism in the country. Boric’s campaign is offering expanded social benefits, support for young “protesters,” and reflecting unspecified concerns that Kast’s conservatism is undemocratic.

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