SANTIAGO — Metro protests continue this week, with no signs of slowing. The government takes a serious stance against the protests and is committed to punishing those who take part. Those who refuse to pay their fare may face a loss of their rights.
More Metro protests took place on Oct. 16, which led to more serious repercussions for those involved.
According to the police, at approximately 10:00 a.m., 150 students stormed Santa Ana Metro station. At least 40 jumped the barrier without paying their fares. Police launched tear gas at the crowd and arrested four students.
Protesters also descended on Franklin station the same morning. According to BioBioChile, students attacked a Metro employee and damaged an access gate.
Minister of Transportation, Gloria Hutt, held a press conference in the afternoon on Oct. 16, saying that the Ministry of the Interior is considering applying the Internal Security Law of the State. This would mean that those who evade their fare will be identified and submitted to a registry. The people on the registry would then be deprived of certain rights, such as getting a drivers’ license. She claimed that the registry of evaders already has over 8,000 people.
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Santiago Metro, Louis de Grange, tweeted his opinion of the protests. He wrote, “It is not evasion, it’s violence. We will take legal action.”
Nuestro Metro no ha sido víctima solo de "evasión masiva". Ha sido víctima de violencia. Nuestros colaboradores en estaciones han sido agredidos. Nuestros pasajeros afectados. Nuestra infraestructura dañada. Y eso no es evasión, es violencia. Presentaremos acciones legales.
— Louis de Grange (@louisdegrange) October 15, 2019
President Piñera made an announcement concerning the mass evasion. He said, “I condemn all who believe they can protest without respecting the law. When the law is not respected, it is undermining the freedom of all others.”
The public’s anger has been festering. What began as a protest by a small group of students has united numerous citizens to its cause.
The Santiago Metro, by implementing preventative measures, including closing stations and entrances, has enraged many.
This tweet expresses a man’s frustration at the fact that, due to the closures, many people will take much longer to get home to their families. He does not blame the protesters but instead the Santiago Metro for the way it has handled the situation.
— Felipe Salazar (@felipesalazarba) October 16, 2019
The protest has become even more popular due to this anger. On Oct. 16, the hashtag #EvasionMasivaALas18 was trending in the afternoon, with many people encouraging a large protest at Metro stations at 6 p.m. To prepare, the Santiago Metro closed many entrances to its stations.
The public, however, united at a greater scale and broke open gates to access the stations.
— Pedro Gomez (@pedropedro89) October 16, 2019
Which evasion is worse: Tax or Fare?
Many citizens were not only frustrated by the response from the Santiago Metro but also by the response from politicians.
Users on Twitter highlighted the fact that the majority of these protests are non-violent, in contrast to what politicians have said. It was reported that only one station worker was attacked, whereas police used tear gas on a whole group of protesters.
Sabí lo que es violento… Tener 23 años y estar endeudado en un crédito por 14 palos, por querer estudiar una carrera. Eso es violento, la evasión no es violenta. #EvasionMasivaALas18
— Michael Johane ⚡ (@michaeljohane) October 16, 2019
People are also angry that the government has taken such a strict stance on fare evasion, when President Piñera himself has an infamous history concerning tax evasion.
The disproportionate condemnation of the different types of evasion has angered many citizens who believe that tax evasion is a much more serious crime.