NATIONAL Social Crisis

Thousands Welcome the New Year at Iconic Plaza Italia

SANTIAGO – Thousands gathered on New Years Eve on Plaza Italia (or Plaza de la Dignidad as many call it now) to celebrate 2020. In the days before the gathering, fear about possible clashes emerged as authorities refused to issue permits and thousands of Carabineros police were deployed. But the night turned out peaceful, with a huge crowd waving goodbye to a year that will never be forgotten.

As the mayor of Providencia district, Evelyn Matthei, declined to support any celebration on Plaza Italia, and because the Metropolitan region’s governor, Felipe Guevara, refused all permits for demonstrations and deployed over 1,000 Carabineros police, the run-up to what protesters dubbed a celebration of “A New Year With Dignity” seemed like preparations for yet another battle.

But just hours before a historic year would end, a Santiago judge ruled that authorities couldn’t impede the right to assemble, giving indirect permission for the celebration. That was a blow to authorities, especially hardliner Guevara, and a fitting end to a year in which many Chileans showed that unity can trump politics.

Thousands came together on Plaza Italia, first joining in a huge dinner and later counting in a new year which will be decisive for the country. In April, Chileans vote whether they want a new Constitution, and later this year municipal elections take place. With fireworks, chants, lasers and flags, many Chileans greeted the new year with hope. The crowd at Plaza Italia and beyond recognized the importance of their contribution to a new Chile, which is more equal and inclusive. The system crumbled in 2019 – in 2020 it should be rebuilt.


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