SANTIAGO – In the last few days, Chilean men were called up for military service throughout the country. As expected, hundreds lined up outside recruitment offices, but, instead of registering, they came to report impediments and reject the call. These young would-be conscripts want nothing to do with an institution they believe is guilty of excessive violence and human rights violations in recent weeks.
Documents in hand and accompanied by relatives, young Chileans lined up in front of recruitment offices as early as 3 a.m. to avoid military service all over the Metropolitan Region, as yesterday (Nov. 20) was the deadline to present impediments.
From all communes of the Metropolitan Region, the General Direction of National Mobilization (DGMN) made the call to 109,921 Chileans for the Military Service 2019 Recruitment Process. According to La Tercera, the number is 95% of men born in the year 2001—the highest number ever.
The young adults came in droves as the deadline to present impediment documents was last night at 11 p.m., but because the number of respondents exceeded the capacity of the recruitment offices (with queues multiplying in length by the hour), the DGMN pushed the deadline to Dec. 30.
The DGMN previously announced on Oct. 15 that the names of those called up for service would be published Oct. 22, with a 30-day deadline to present impediments to avoid military service.
The institution, however, could not have guessed that just a few short days later a historic social crisis would erupt; and, although it is not the only reason people are trying to avoid military service at this time, the distrust of the police and military as a result of their actions during the crisis, is reportedly a significant reason. “Due to the crisis, many people who planned on doing military service are now refusing to do it,” said Felipe Carrasco, a young Chilean lining up in La Reina, according to La Tercera.
The list of those ultimately selected for military service (i.e., after consideration of alleged impediments and other information) will be published in February 2020.
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Military Service in Chile
According to the Chilean Military Service website, military service is a temporary training period in the Army to acquire basic knowledge and abilities as a soldier or sailor. It is a mandatory process for all Chilean male citizens between the ages of 17 and 24, and is meant to leave citizens prepared if they are needed for cases where national defense or natural catastrophe response is required.
At the beginning of the calling process every year, young citizens are asked to volunteer for the Mandatory Military Service. After volunteer applicants have filled a specific number of available positions, the rest are drafted at random, in which case it’s their duty to report to the nearest recruitment office as directed.
During this initial phase, young citizens can check online if they have been called by typing their Chilean ID number (or RUN).
Upon reporting to a recruitment office as directed, an applicant is then examined to determine if he is fit for military service. If he is, the applicant will be called again by the DGMN on a final selection list.
What are the Exemptions?
Chilean citizens can be exempted from military service if:
- They show physical or psychological impediments.
- They are members of the Army.
- They are their family’s main source of income.
- They are married or expectant parents.
- They have been criminally sentenced in the past.
- They are relatives to people listed in the Valech or Retting report.*
All impediments must be backed by official documents or medical orders, and they must be presented on the dates established by the military.
Mandatory military service can also be avoided by asking for exclusion before the Special Accreditation Commission.
There is also the option to ask for alternative service options, like after a specific event (e.g., graduation) or during specific seasons (e.g., summer).
* The Valech Report is a record of abuses committed in Chile by Augusto Pinochet’s military regime, and the Retting Report is a record of human rights abuses resulting in death or disappearance that occurred during the Pinochet dictatorship.
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.