SANTIAGO, Oct. 31 (Agency One / EP) –
Chilean Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel said Thursday that the government is willing to discuss “structural changes” in order to overcome the political crisis that has been unleashed by the massive protests against social inequality.
“The president said yesterday that it does not close to any structural change. We have to have disposition to dialogue. There is no obstacle,” said Blumel, questioned by the press about a possible constitutional reform, now one of the main demands of protesters and opposition.
However, he considered that, given that the president, Sebastián Piñera, has opted for “a broad dialogue process that is under way”, this must be concluded before “making more definitive decisions”. “It seems important to us first to carry out this participatory dialogue,” he stressed.
Blumel has headed the meeting that different ministers have held this Thursday with the leaders of the opposition parties. “It was a good and positive meeting. The time has come for good policy, which builds agreements,” he said, pointing to the dialogue as “the main path (…) to overcome the crisis.”
However, the opposition has left the meeting with a different impression. The Government “is not aware of the discomfort in Chile. And, therefore, its responses are not adequate. Along with stopping the pro-abuse agenda, we have to promote an anti-abuse agenda,” said the socialist leader, Álvaro Elizalde.
“I hope this changes,” said the head of the Party for Democracy (PD), former Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz. “I don't see clear signs yet … I expect fundamental changes from the Government, not a lukewarm approach,” he said of the constitutional reform.
Along the same lines, Jaime Mulet, from the Regionalist Front, has considered “frustrating” the fact that “the Government continues to dance with music fifteen days ago,” according to the Chilean newspaper 'La Tercera'.
“It is illusory (to believe) that a meeting of political parties will solve the problems. We must listen to social movements and citizens,” said Catalina Pérez, of the Democratic Revolution.
The leader of the Radical Party, Carlos Maldonado, recalled that it is the Government who has “the responsibility of listening and proposing real changes”, warning that, “if it does not, time runs against and against Chile”. “Chile can't keep waiting,” he warned.
This meeting with the opposition, which had a precedent last week but with fewer participants, has followed another with the formations that make up the conservative coalition of Piñera, Chile Vamos.
Protests broke out on October 17 over the fourth rise in the price of the subway in a few months but grew rapidly to denounce social inequality. Piñera has devised a “social agenda” and has remodeled the Government to respond to the concerns of Chileans, but the demonstrations continue.
In these two weeks, at least 19 people have died, more than a thousand have been injured and more than 3,000 have been arrested. In addition, the National Institute of Human Rights (NHRI) has denounced abuses by security forces against those arrested that would include torture and harassment, among other abuses.