SANTIAGO – President Sebastián Piñera canceled the 25th annual Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference, which were going to be held in Santiago later this year. The decision was made in view of the ongoing unrest in Chile, ostensibly to prioritize the reestablishment of national security and peace in the country.
In a public declaration signed Oct. 30, President Piñera cancelled the COP25 and the APEC, scheduled for November and December this year. “As president … I always have to put the Chilean people’s problems, interests, needs, and hopes first on the line,” he said, referring to the tense political situation in Chile right now.
The declaration does not mention any ongoing social movements or previous incidents, but the decision was made in the middle of the biggest political crisis in Chile since the dictatorship, a crisis that reverberates internationally as a result of countless protests, marches, riots, arson, and looting by residents, and alleged human rights and other violations by the government.
Piñera ended the public letter saying that “this has been a very hard decision … But we have based [it] on a wise principle of common sense: when a father has problems, he needs to always prioritize his family over other options; just as a President has to always put his compatriots above any other consideration.”
The COP25 is still standing, however, and the announcement will not affect the realization of the event. Executive secretary Patricia Espinosa states on the UNFCC’s website, “we are currently exploring alternative hosting options.”
— Patricia Espinosa C. (@PEspinosaC) October 30, 2019
What has happened since the initial peaceful protests and student groups first started evading metro fares on Oct. 17 is unimaginable to many. According to El Economista, 19 people have died, and more than 3,000 have been arrested in the past 2 weeks. Numerous people have been injured by the police and military, including approximately 300 children. Amnesty International and others are investigating.
After days of violence, senators from different parties, unhappy with the president’s response to the crisis, have even come together to plan a plebiscite for a future constitutional reform.
Even before the president announced the COP25 and APEC conferences were off, several international authorities were already stating that they would not attend.
Spanish senators Miguel Urban Crespo and Ídoia Villanueva gathered approximately 40 signatures from European Union parliamentarians stating that they would not attend the APEC or COP25 until human rights violations in Chile were properly investigated and prosecuted. As reported by 24 Horas, Villanueva said, “As the Chilean people say, it was never 30 pesos, but 30 years of human rights violations.”
Camila Huecho is a journalism student at Universidad de La Frontera in Temuco, currently interning at Chile Today. As a freelance illustrator and Fellow at the Melton Foundation, she works to bring information and cultures together through communications and art.