Senators Approve Controversial Bill

Jul 24, 2020

On 22 July 2020, Chilean senators voted to approve a controversial bill that would allow citizens to withdraw 10% of their pension savings amid increasing unrest in the capital Santiago. The bill — approved by a 29-13 vote with one abstention — will return to the lower house Chamber of Deputies where it is likely to pass a final vote. The Chamber of Deputies first approved the bill on 15 July after a night of episodic unrest and large protests in Santiago in support of the proposed legislation. Overnight on 14-15 July, coordinated attacks occurred against police stations in the neighborhoods of Huechuraba, Cerro Navia, Estación Central, Maipú and Peñalolén. Overnight on 22-23 July, pockets of unrest were also reported in the neighborhoods of Pudahuel, La Florida, Puente Alto, Cerro Navia, Macul, Peñalolén, Maipú and Central Station, although the motives for these events remain unclear. Officials noted that at least seven individuals were detained overnight on 22-23 July.

Analyst Comment: More protests in urban centers are likely if President Sebastian Piñera attempts to stymie the bill’s passage. Piñera opposes the pension bill, although he was unable to sway legislators to vote against the measure. The president has the power to veto the bill, which would send the measure back to Congress and likely spark a new wave of anti-government protests across Chile. The country’s pension system — which has been critiqued for low payouts — was at the center of Chile’s widespread unrest in late 2019.

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