Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (114)

Seán Crowe


114. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to recent large public protests in Chile and opposition to the current Government and its alleged dire handling of the economy, which has led to rampant inequality; his views on the fact the Chilean Government declared a state of emergency and deployed the army; if his attention has been further drawn to the scenes of police and army brutality, which has led to more than 1,000 Chileans being injured and more than 100 partially blinded after being shot in the eye; and his views on these alleged human rights violations against protesters. [45163/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am aware of the recent civil unrest in Chile. My Department has been receiving updates on the developing situation from our new Embassy in Santiago.

As the Deputy will be aware, protests about price increases for the metro service in Santiago became increasingly violent over the weekend beginning Friday, 18 October, leading the Government to declare a state of emergency. This was followed by the deployment of the army on the streets to deal with the unrest, and overnight curfews in the capital of Santiago and cities across Chile. The demonstrations have since evolved into larger protests centring on socio-economic inequality in Chile. While most of the protests have been peaceful, there are violent elements among the protesters who have engaged in acts of destruction and violence, including looting and arson.

I am saddened by the reports of violence, destruction, injuries and loss of life that have occurred during the demonstrations. I am aware of the allegations of human rights violations by the authorities against some protesters and I welcome the decision by the UN High Commission for Human Rights to send a verification mission to examine these reports and allegations, and the support of the Government of Chile for this visit.

President Piñera lifted the State of Emergency from Sunday, 27 October; however, protests and accompanying violence have continued. As a result, President Piñera has announced that Chile will no longer host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in November or the COP25 UN Climate Change Conference in December.

We will continue to monitor developments closely, together with other EU Missions and partners in Chile. Ireland enjoys excellent bilateral relations with Chile. We look forward to developing that relationship further in the months and years ahead.