Protests erupt in Chile after police fatally shoot street juggler

Hundreds protest in southern Chile and the government holds emergency meeting after performer fatally shot by police. A public building burns during a protest after a police officer shot a street juggler in Panguipulli, Chile [Andres Quezada/Reuters]

SANTIAGO, Feb. 5, 2021: Protests have broken out and municipal buildings were set on fire in southern Chile after police shot dead a street performer, prompting an emergency government meeting. The shooting took place on Friday in Panguipulli, a popular lakeside resort around 800km south of the capital Santiago, prompting hundreds to take to the streets in protest. Some protesters erected burning barricades and threw rocks at police, while public buildings, including the municipal headquarters, were set on fire.

Chilean police have detained the officer involved in the shooting while their investigation proceeds, according to officials. Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado, who convened his staff on Saturday to discuss the situation, condemned the arson and promised justice would be served in the shooting. The Chilean government has ordered police to hand over all records of the incident to the Public Ministry, which has launched an investigation. Public buildings were set on fire during protests after a police officer shot dead a street juggler in Panguipulli protests since late 2019 have put the country’s Carabinero police force under intense scrutiny, with local and international watchdog groups alleging excessive use of force and human rights violations.

The shooting occurred after the juggler refused to cooperate with police search by two uniformed men, the AFP news agency reported. The check resulted in a dispute that ended with one of the agents firing at the street artist, according to a video widely circulated by local channels and on social media, the news agency said. “We regret the loss of this young juggler. I hope that justice is done,” Ricardo Valdivia, Panguipulli’s mayor, told Radio Cooperativa.

Santiago residents banged pots and pans in anger over the shooting, while Chileans took to social media to call for reforms and condemn what happened. “In a police force with a minimum professional level this should not have happened,” writer Pedro Gandolfo tweeted. “A shameful act with a tragic result.”

Chilean lawmakers propose making coronavirus vaccine mandatory

SANTIAGO, Jan 5, 2021 (Reuters): Chilean lawmakers on Tuesday presented a bill before Congress that would make vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory as the country’s center-right government pushes to inosculate the majority of its population by mid-year. The bill would modify the country’s health code, which already requires vaccination against smallpox, whooping cough and other diseases, according to the opposition Christian Democracy party lawmakers who submitted the legislation.

Chile was the first country in South America to begin a COVID-19 vaccination program. The Andean nation is also among the best positioned in the region for vaccine supply, having struck deals with AstraZeneca Plc, Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE, and China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. “As we move forward in this process, we are unfortunately going to meet resistance from compatriots,” said bill sponsor Gabriel Silber. He said the bill would help ensure the effectiveness of the country’s ambitious vaccination program.

An IPSOS survey in early December found that seven out of 10 Chileans said they would be willing to get vaccinated. Silber said the legislation would help assure Chile could effectively vaccinate 80% of its population, which health experts in the country say would be necessary to achieve herd immunity and stem virus transmission. Health Minister Enrique Paris said earlier this week that officials would study the proposal.

Chile began vaccinating frontline healthcare workers shortly before Christmas, and said other state officials involved in the fight against the virus, as well as the elderly and chronically ill are next in line. Reporting by Natalia Ramos, Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Bill Berkrot. By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda.

Chile Tightens Immigration Law Ahead of Predicted Post-Lockdown Arrivals

SANTIAGO, Dec 17, 2020 (Reuters): Lawmakers approved late on Thursday a bill that overhauls Chile’s immigration rules and the service that oversees them, ahead of an anticipated surge in arrivals from abroad as the coronavirus pandemic subsides. The center-right government of president Sebastian Pinera, a proponent of the measure, had urged lawmakers to fast-track the legislation, which creates a new, beefed up Immigration Service, establishes new qualifications for entry and ratchets up sanctions against illegal immigrants. The bill was approved by 38-2 in Chile’s Senate and now awaits Pinera’s signature. It offers special protection to refugees from countries where they may be persecuted, as well as to pregnant women and victims of trafficking or domestic abuse.

The legislation also allows any migrant who entered Chile prior to March 18, 2020 - shortly after the pandemic struck - a period of 180 days to formalize their immigration status within the country. Chile, the world’s top copper producer, has in recent years become a magnet for migrants from poorer Latin American countries, notably Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Peru. That has sparking concerns among some Chileans about illegal immigration and the loss of local jobs to foreigners. Some lawmakers say the bill approved on Thursday does not go far enough to protect the rights of children and migrant workers, and have threatened to take those arguments to the country’s Constitutional Tribunal.

As Latin America’s richest country in terms of GDP per head, according to IMF figures, Chile is among the continent’s most attractive destinations for migrants. More than one million people have migrated there since 2014, bringing the foreign-born population to 1.5 million, according to government figures. A Department of Migration report this year predicted that migrant numbers could increase further to 250,000 a year once the COVID-19 crisis subsides, pointing to an International Monetary Fund report that suggested Chile’s economy would rebound quicker than most.