© Reuters. On November 19, 2021, before the presidential election in Santiago, Chile, workers carry election materials in the polling station. Chileans will vote in the first round of presidential elections on November 21, 2021. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
By Gram Slattery
Santiago (Reuters)-For many Chileans, Plaza Baquedano, an extensive Rotary club in downtown Santiago, has been a center of social protest for decades and has become a powerful symbol of hope.
For the past two years, city residents have gathered here regularly https://graphics.reuters.com/CHILE-PROTESTS/0100B32527X/index.html to protest against the low pensions and high public transportation fees, and more generally against the conservative political class. Just don’t understand.
The statue of the 19th-century general in the center of the square has been removed https://www.reuters.com/article/us-chile-protests-idUSKBN2B3255, and its base is now covered by left-wing political literature.
Most people believe that the protests-collectively referred to as “estallido social” or “social outburst”-led to the continued rewriting of the country’s Pinochet-era constitution https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/chile-begins- Uncertain path to write a new constitution 2021-05-17. “Estallido” also helped promote the candidacy of the 35-year-old leftist Gabriel Boric, a relatively new man who has become a strong contender for the presidential election this Sunday https://www.reuters.com/world /americas/former-Protest leader Paulick seeks Bury, Chile, and Chilean neoliberalism past 2021-11-17.
But not everyone is so fascinated.
Among the critics was Ramon Zambrano, who was the doorman of a nearby apartment building.
“You can protest, but for peace. They messed things up, burned cars, burned subways. What are they doing?” He asked, pointing out the damage caused by the graffiti-covered building where he works.
In a sense, the conditions around Baquedano Square represent the core paradox of the election here. Although the Chilean left has gained great support through dozens of large-scale demonstrations that began in 2019, the sometimes violent protests over the past two years have made many voters wary.
This-coupled with the general belief among Chileans that crime rates are rising-creates an opportunity for rights to make progress by communicating a message of law and order to the country.
Although Borik, who gained fame for leading the student protests in 2011, has been in the lead for most of 2021, the far-right former Congressman José Antonio Kast compared him with Donald Trump is on par with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. reuters.com/world/americas/chiles-bolsonaro-hard-right-kast-rises-with-frank-talk-crime-focus-2021-11-16 has risen sharply in opinion polls in recent weeks.
A recent poll showed that Custer got the largest share of votes on Sunday. A survey conducted by consulting firm Activa Research on November 6 showed that Kast won the possible final with a narrow advantage https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/chile-conservative-kast-maintains-lead-final -pre-election-opinion-polls- 2021-11-06 December.
For Kenneth Bunker, the director of the political consulting firm Tresquintos, a particularly violent round of protests in late October helped promote the development of the right.
A series of recent confrontations https://www.reuters.com/article/us-chile-mapuche-conflict-idUSKCN25230C https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/freight-train-derailed-burned-southern- chile-amid-indigenous-conflict-2021-11-02 In the provinces of Southern Araucanía and Biobío, where the police and separatist indigenous groups have long been at odds, have also fallen into the hands of Castells .
“I think there is a very important part of this country that is tired, and they don’t want to have such a thing anymore,” said Gonzalo Cordero, a political consultant and columnist for the national La Tercera newspaper.
Supporters of Boric point out that almost 80% of Chileans, many of whom are tired of the country’s ultra-free market economy model, voted to rewrite the national constitution last year https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/freight- train-derailed-burned-southern Chile-indigenous-conflict-2021-11-02. They argued that conservatives like Custer were of no avail in quelling dissatisfaction.
“I think that if Kast is elected, there will be an’estallido 2.0′,” said Pedro Muñoz, an elected member of the body re-writing Chile’s constitution.
Despite this, Custer’s campaign was leaning towards the message of law and order, and so did his supporters.
At the closing ceremony of the election on Thursday night, he repeatedly promised to fight crime. When he supported the police, the warmest applause came, many of whom were accused by the public and prosecutors of using violence against the protesters.
Several supporters insisted in interviews without evidence that “estallido” was the product of foreign provocateurs such as the Venezuelan or Cuban government.
Banners supporting Trump are common, as are anti-crime banners such as “Orden con Kast” or “Order with Kast”.
As far as Paulick is concerned, he is also willing. For the supporters of Castells, the protest is a sign of decline and chaos, while for Boric, the protest shows that the previous order is not worth saving.
“We will do our politics on the streets,” Borik said in his own campaign on Thursday night.