State of exception: the government is torn between the warning of the PC and the pressure to expand the military presence to Los Ríos
“We have had a good afternoon”, commented the Minister of the Interior, Izkia Sichestras, on the vote of the Chamber of Deputies that approved the extension of the emergency constitutional state of exception for La Araucanía and Biobío.
By 119 votes in favor -the highest support that the Executive has achieved for its requests to extend this measure-, the room had the intention of keeping the Armed Forces. in tasks of public order and internal security in these regions.
However, during the day contradictory signals were given by the ruling party.
One of them came from the group of communist deputies, who met on Monday, in the middle of that day’s session, and agreed to ask the government that this be the last extension of the state of emergency.
“We hope that there will be no more states of exception… Militarization cannot be the only way, but it is also a measure that must be intensely accompanied by other measures of a social nature, to meet the demands of the communities,” said Deputy PC Alejandra Placencia, who was named spokesperson for her committee.
The position revealed the fatigue shown by certain government blocs, especially the Broad Front and the PC, given that every 15 days they are subjected to strong internal tension to vote on these states of emergency (which are valid fortnightly), which for the most part they are resisted by left-wing forces.
In addition, the debates are already repeated on both sides. Even from the right they have already begun to show signs of boredom at the repetition of speeches on this subject.
However, the same Congress delivered this Monday a new government alternative and sanctioned into law a constitutional reform that empowers President Gabriel Boric to dispose, without too many procedures, of the military forces to guard “critical infrastructure” that is, spaces and services public or strategic places such as food stockpiles, power plants and industrial and commercial establishments.
When Minister Siches was consulted about the PC’s warning, she commented that the government is in talks with the benches and indicated that they are considering the reform of “critical infrastructure” as an alternative to the state of emergency. “We hope in the next few days to evaluate its possible use,” she said.
This last measure has an advantage, since it only has to be extended every 60 days before Congress. However, for its implementation there are two problems: 1) some associated regulations still need to be fine-tuned and 2) the Broad Front and the PC resisted giving it their support last Monday, which left the government in an uncomfortable position.
However, in the polls carried out by the ministers that were deployed this Wednesday in Congress, the government received messages that, at least as a whole, the PC and the Broad Front would not object to the use of this new power by the President.
A parliamentarian from the Broad Front, who preferred anonymity, pointed out that the President is within his right to resort to the measure. This does not imply that critical voices also arise from the PC, the Broad Front and the PS, especially from parliamentarians of Mapuche origin, from victims of human rights violations during the dictatorship or from representatives of La Araucanía, who have always voted against the states. exception
Despite this, in yesterday’s session of the Chamber, the government reaped a positive gesture from PC deputy Lorena Pizarro, leader of the Association of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees, who, by agreement of her caucus, spoke for the first time on this issue. in the living room.
“For a long time I did not know if I should intervene in this space, because my position, in the vote, does not coincide with the government’s proposal, but it does coincide with the substance of what this government is seeking. I am not going to vote in favor, but I do understand and see that there are proposals to find solutions, Pizarro added.
The legislator’s signal helped decompress the registered vote hours later. In fact, except for legislators like Pizarro, who for ethical reasons have always rejected, the government managed to limit the number of dissidents among its ranks. Thus, on occasion only eight abstentions were counted (six of them pro-government) and eight votes against (six of them from the PC and the Broad Front).
In addition, another of the curiosities of the session was the explicit call by pro-government deputies from the Los Ríos Region to the government to expand the military presence in that area, given the attacks registered in La Unión and Máfil.
Even Patricio Rosas, an independent deputy from the Broad Front, joined the call. “We are going to vote in favor of the state of emergency one, two, three or as many times as necessary and we hope that it will cover the Los Ríos Region, if necessary,” she said.
“We must face criminal attacks with a firm hand,” commented, in turn, the socialist Marcos Ilabaca, who was the first to raise the need to apply a state of emergency in his region.
In his speech in the chamber of the Upper House, the socialist senator Alfonso de Urresti, although he did not directly advocate extending the state of emergency to Los Ríos, a region he represents, asked at least to reinforce the police presence. “I don’t want to point out how you have a state of exception,” he said.
Given these requests, Minister Siches reported that in the evaluation meeting that takes place every Thursday in La Moneda with the Minister of Defense, Maya Fernández, they will evaluate the background.
In the Senate, the extension was approved by 36 votes in favor and two abstentions (José Durana and Francisco Huenchumilla).