This Wednesday, president Sebastián Piñera announced his decision to cancel the APEC summit (16-17 November) as well as the UN’s climate change conference (COP25, 2-13 December).

Both events were supposed to take place in Santiago, the country’s capital, but the political and social crisis that has rocked the country since 18 October triggered the Government’s resolution

“This decision has been very difficult to make, something that pains us (…) but we have based this decision on common sense”, Piñera said in front of the press at La Moneda, the presidential palace.

“When a parent has problems they have to prioritise their family over other options. A President always has to put their people first”, he affirmed.

“We lament the issues that this decision will produce (…) but as the President of all Chileans I must put the interests of the country first in line”, Piñera added.

According to the head of State, 73% of Chilean exports end up in APEC territories, so this is not a forum “that was in the sole interest of leaders, but of all Chileans”, Piñera stated.

Moreover, he estimated that over 40 thousand local businesses trade in the Asia-Pacific area and that they generate around 2.8 million jobs.

Regarding the environment, Piñera also said to be sorry that the country will not be able to host the COP25 meeting, but reminded that Chile has vowed to “take better care of the oceans” and that it is committed to become a “carbon-neutral nation by 2050”.

Sebastián Beltrán Gaete | Agencia UNO
Sebastián Beltrán Gaete | Agencia UNO


For months, Piñera has registered low approval ratings, so the APEC and the climate change meeting seemed to be the perfect opportunity to shine alongside international leaders.

Nonetheless, Friday 18 October marked a turning point with the outburst of protests in Santiago, which later spread to the rest of the country with looting, arson attacks and violent clashes with the police.

To tackle violence and to regain public order, Piñera decided to declare State of Emergency and curfews that were finally imposed in 13 regions out of the 16 in the country.

The State of Emergency was lifted this Monday, but left a number of serious allegations of Human Rights violations by the Armed Forces and the Uniformed Armed Police, in charge of security under this mechanism.

The crisis, the worst since the transition to democracy (in 1989), brought the lowest approval rating for Piñera (14%).

Amid the unrest, millions of people have taken to the streets for almost 12 days calling the Government for radical changes in one of the OECD’s most unequal nations in terms of income.

Among the most pressing demands, Chileans ask for a new Constitution, to replace the current one, written and passed under Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, to lower Congress salaries and the end of politicians’ privileges.

This unprecedented wave of general discontent saw its origin on a rush hour fare hike in the Santiago Metro, but it was also a response to years of miserable pensions managed by private companies, problems with healthcare, unmet demands in the education field, multiple cases of corruption and multimillion-dollar embezzlement scandals involving public entities, among many other issues.

Sebastián Beltrán Gaete | Agencia UNO
Sebastián Beltrán Gaete | Agencia UNO