Far-left President Gabriel Boric of Chile issued a plea, Argentine news outlet Infobae reported on Tuesday, for the nation to stop a trend of what he called “normalizing violence” after leftist groups rioted in the Meiggs neighborhood of Santiago, resulting in three injured from gunshot wounds during the Marxist holiday known as “May Day.”
May Day, otherwise referred to as “International Workers’ Day,” is a global celebration of communist ideology typically marked in communist countries with mandatory parades and in free countries with leftist riots. In addition to the violent nature of May Day assemblies, Chile has also experienced three years of increased left-wing looting, rioting, and other acts of violence, beginning with protests allegedly against public transit fare hikes that rapidly became calls for a new leftist constitution. When the constitution became the problem, rioters started targeting churches, burning them down and vandalizing them with Satanic graffiti.
Boric was elected president in December as part of a left-wing party coalition known as “Approve Dignity.” Boric himself has referred to his politics as “to the left of the PC [Communist Party]” in the past.
Boric’s victory followed violent leftist mob attacks against supporters of his opponent, conservative candidate José Antonio Kast, in the days leading up to the final election. In one incident, leftists physically assaulted a pregnant staffer on Kast’s team.
The electoral victory has not appeared to slow the growing trend of leftist violence in the country. On Sunday, a May Day protest turned violent in Meiggs, a commercial sector, when local businesspeople accused the leftists participating of attempting to loot and vandalize their businesses. Clashes erupted and unknown individuals opened fire, resulting in three serious injuries. The victim of the most severe damage was identified as journalist Francisca Sandoval, who was shot in the head and remains hospitalized in a delicate state as of Wednesday.
Police arrested two suspects, a Venezuelan national and a Colombian, also as of Wednesday.
Boric visited Sandoval in the hospital on Tuesday, where he was greeted with jeers from an angry crowd outside. He has additionally made multiple statements to the press lamenting what he perceived as an incident that came out of a larger trend of violence in the country.
“What is happening is unacceptable and there can be no half-measures here,” Boric said during a televised interview on Sunday. “We are normalizing violence in our country in too many ways. We, of course, cannot allow as a state that delinquent gangs of organized crime take the streets of our country.”
Boric made similar statements on Monday.
“The violent situation that we are experiencing in many parts of our country is absolutely unacceptable and the normalizing of this is something that the government will not allow,” he asserted. “We will pursue this in a firm way, and lend total support to the families [involved] … so that there will be justice.”
Boric did not specify in his remarks what alleged criminal organizations he was vowing to eradicate or if any organized criminal syndicates were involved in the incident on Sunday. Infobae cited local reports saying that the protests were allegedly peaceful until “ambulating (illegal) salespeople suddenly appeared and, with firearms, attacked those attending the march.” Boric’s government has also called for an investigation into the carabineros, Chilean police, presumably to investigate any police brutality. Leftists have complained of disproportionate police violence since the 2019 riots began.
Outraged locals have denied that “mafias” or organized crime syndicates are the problem, instead accusing the government of not doing enough to stop looting and vandalism of small businesses, endangering owners. In a particularly striking broadcast, businessowners and workers in Meiggs interrupted an interview with an eyewitness at Sunday’s riot – a man photographed holding a gun that he claimed was fake – to condemn the reporters conducting the interview for antagonizing locals who said they had acted in self-defense.
The interview occurred on the 24 Horas broadcast of Televisión Nacional de Chile (TVN), the state broadcaster.
As the news journalists attempt to interview Eduardo Bustamante, the man photographed with the gun, a group of locals interrupts the broadcast and protests the journalists. A woman who identifies herself as having run a business in Meiggs for 40 years interrupts, explaining the point of view of locals.
“We are totally unprotected. If a robber enters your home and wants to steal all the belongings that you have collected through years of work, are you going to stand there with arms crossed or will you wait to be robbed?” the woman asked the journalists. “You will react like any human being will react, defending your rights, that you deserve, because that is the best for your family.”
“I agree that all people should express themselves and their concerns with the government and the things that happen in my country, but it does not give them the right to come to rob my business, to burn my business, and mill about the place where they do not belong,” the woman continued.
“If we are talking about respecting one another – there was no respect there,” the woman says of the protesters.
Boric’s narrow victory against Kast – who won the first round of voting but failed to reach the 50-percent threshold necessary to avoid a run-off election – has translated into very poor approval ratings. A poll published Wednesday by the firm Data Influye found 50 percent of the country disapproves of Boric’s performance, a 14-percent increase since March. In comparison, Boric’s predecessor, the centrist Sebastián Piñera, closed out his last month in office (February) with a 64-percent disapproval rating.
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