SANTIAGO – The footage that appeared this week of the killing of Camilo Catrillanca, has led to the forced resignation of the national head of the Carabineros, Hermes Soto. Ten generals have resigned as well. The audiovisual evidence embarrassed the Carabineros directory, as the GOPE-members involved in the shooting had stated earlier that they did not carry functioning cameras.
Ever since Camilo Catrillanca was shot and killed on November 14, protestors and activists had demanded the resignation of Hermes Soto as national head of Chile’s Carabineros police. Soto refused, stood firmly with his men and got supported by both minister Chadwick and President Piñera. But because the men Soto refused to let down lied to him about the existence of very sensitive evidence, President Piñera saw no other way yesterday than removing both Soto and 10 other Carabineros generals.
Flanked by Internal Affairs Minister Chadwick and his Undersecretary Rodrigo Ubilla, Piñera defended his actions, saying “the Carabineros need new leadership, to face all current problems and future challenges with greater will, speed and efficiency”.
As Soto was asked to resign by the president himself, 10 Carabineros generals resigned as well in a show of loyalty to Soto, who was lied to by the same men he was protecting during hectic weeks around the Catrillanca case.
— Chile Today News (@ChileTodayNews) December 20, 2018
Carabineros in crisis
In an interview with Ahora Noticias, the president called the current situation the Carabineros are finding themselves in “one of the worst crisis in the history of the institution”.
Apart from the polemic situation around the death of 24-year-old Catrillanca, the Carabineros have made negative headlines over the last few years regarding tax fraud, altering evidence in the Operation Huracán case, obstruction of justice and excessive use of violence against citizens.
A new leadership must give the institution the clean start it so desperately needs. Earlier this year, Piñera announced the first reorganization of the Chilean Armed Forces since the end of the dictatorship.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.