Critics emerge in Chile against restrictions and quarantine in the capital

The Electoral Service (Servel) affirmed that this measure "does not exactly help certain voters to turn out to vote" in the second round of elections to choose the governors of 13 regions of the country.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The announcement on Thursday, June 10, of imposing a total quarantine in Santiago, for the third time since the beginning of the sanitary crisis, made critical voices emerge this Friday against the restrictions and the confinement that will begin this weekend, coinciding with the regional elections.

The Electoral Service (Servel) affirmed that this measure “does not exactly help certain voters to turn out to vote” in the second round of elections to choose the governors of 13 regions of the country.

A person waves a Chilean flag during a protest against Chile’s government in Santiago, Chile November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares – RC2S9D9CL74K

“We call for calm and safe participation. Some people associate quarantines with a scenario of greater risk, but the polling places are safe,” concluded the national director of the Servel, Raúl García.

Although this is the first time that Chileans will be able to elect their regional authorities -previously they were appointed by the president-, a low turnout is expected since the day is taking place at the height of the contagion peak, especially in the capital, which gathers almost 6 of the 13 million Chileans who are called to the polls.

The pandemic could aggravate an already chronic abstention: since voting became voluntary in 2012, participation has never exceeded 50%, except in the constitutional plebiscite of 2020 (51%).

Criticism of the restrictions started from the most conservative sectors of the ruling party, which called for an end to quarantines and the state of exception, a regime in force since March 2020 and which allows maintaining the curfew, militarizing the streets, and imposing confinements.

“We must continue to take care of ourselves, but mental health and the economy have been hit hard enough. No more quarantines” tweeted Javier Macaya, leader of the far-right Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party.

“President Piñera is exceeding his powers by using the state of exception and the Armed Forces for matters that have nothing to do with the pandemic,” denounced the leftist deputy of Revolución Democrática Jorge Brito, who also criticized the measure.

The Medical Association (Colmed) said Friday that it is “difficult” to evaluate the measure because it comes “late” and is part of a “totally failed” health plan, according to the regional president of the capital, Francisca Crispi, who spoke to local media.

Chile has been plunged since March in a serious second wave of the pandemic that raised the daily new cases to historic highs, forced the confinement in April of more than 90% of the population, and recent weeks raised the saturation of the ICUs to over 95%.

Some neighborhoods have been under total confinement for more than two months, and experts point to the low effectiveness of quarantines, explained by economic and labor factors, as the cause of the failure of the strategy to contain Covid-19 even with more than 50% of the target population fully vaccinated.

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