he decree of a state of emergency in four southern provinces is understood from the logic of restoring broken peace and public order in that part of the country -for many years and under successive governments-, in a context of violence that has recently intensified . This was explained by President Piñera on Tuesday when making the announcement.
However, there are reasons to question whether the tool chosen to deal with it – the state of exception – is the most appropriate, if what is really sought is to attack the problem with a long-term vision. This is doubtful at first, considering that the government adopts this exceptional measure only months after handing over power, and that the state of emergency only applies for 15 days, extendable to 30 (to extend that period, authorization from Congress is required).
The strategy involved in the deployment of armed forces in the area is, for obvious reasons, reserved. But it should be noted that these provinces have lived under a state of emergency due to catastrophe during the pandemic, without stopping the violence, which has rather increased in the period.
On the other hand, it is well known that the seriousness and complexity of what is happening in La Araucanía and Bío-Bío demands a response from the State that goes beyond just policing (in itself very complex and so far unsuccessful). This is a true breakdown of the rule of law that was very well synthesized in the presidential announcement, not only in the number, variety and seriousness of the crimes committed there, but also in their implications for the institutions of justice, for social peace and for economic progress.
If when the emergency decree ends, violence in the south has not perceptibly and lastingly subsided – or worse, if it has increased – the government may well be creating the conditions for a worsening of the conflict. And by making a bet that the country cannot afford to lose, you may be passing a heavy backpack to your successor.