Conservative president, Sebastián Piñera, took office for the second time on Sunday after gaining another period in December’s run-off election, a result with which Chile swifted to the right and brought the end of a period of time marked by left-wing governments in the region as well as an increasing participation of women leading their countries.
During his first official day back at the presidential palace, La Moneda, Piñera accepted the resignation of the head of the armed police, Carabineros, general Bruno Villalobos, who decided to step aside due to a series of scandals that have shaken the country, with his leadership under fierce scrutiny.
Once Chile’s most trusted institution, Carabineros’ reputation was first tarnished by a multi-million dollar embezzlement carried out by high officers, most of which are likely to avoid jail due to alternative dispute resolutions achieved by their attorneys and the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Following that, in September 2017, a massive police operation –titled Huracán– ended up with a number of Mapuche indigenous leaders arrested and accused of burning lorries and forestry equipment in the Bío Bío, La Araucanía and Los Ríos regions, in the south of the country.
Nevertheless, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, along with the Police of Investigations (PDI), launched an inquiry given that the reports and evidence produced and gathered by Carabineros and its Intelligence Unit were allegedly forged.
In that context, an app, known as Antorcha, came into the picture. It was created by a civilian named Alex Smith, who was hired by Carabineros to help them track terrorist activities on national soil. Notwithstanding, the software failed to fulfill its objective and it was later revealed that officers might have inserted accusatory text messages into the detainees’ mobile devices.
Smith was finally made redundant and lawyers rejected his case twice. Public defenders, a right every Chilean citizen has, are set to plead his case in court.
This Monday, Piñera also received the resignation of the officer in charge of the Intelligence Unit, general Gonzalo Blu, the Interior secretary, Andrés Chadwick, announced this afternoon at La Moneda.
Blu, on the other hand, faces an investigation regarding his direct responsibility in Huracán and the alleged fabrication of false evidence and its insertion.
Piñera answered by announcing a number of modifications within Carabineros and PDI, as well as a better organization scheme among the police, judges and prosecutors.
The Government also confirmed that Villalobos’ replacement was general Julio Pineda, the officer in charge of the internal investigation ordered by former president Michelle Bachelet until an official shortlist of three candidates is presented to the Executive for approval so as to appoint a new leader.