John Cobin, the US citizen who opened fire on protestors in Reñaca (Central Chile) in 2019, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.
The Californian economist faced three charges. Manslaughter was one of them.
Nonetheless, his defense has ten days to file an appeal to the Valparaíso Court.
Cobin, a free-market enthusiast, has been for some time a controversial figure in the country.
He moved to Chile in 1996 in the search of lower taxes, in 2013 he declared himself the “most neoliberal man” in the land and he even praised dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973 – 1990).
A devout evangelical, Cobin also supported the economic reforms introduced by the so-called Chicago Boys under Pinochet’s regime, which are heavily criticised nowadays.
He was arrested on Sunday 10 November after shooting at protestors who asked him to get off his car and dance amid the social and political crisis that started on Friday 18 October. One man was injured.
“I was in fear for my life today when I went down to the gun range to shoot the gun I legally hold with a transporting license I legally have in Chile”, he stated on Facebook after the incident.
“When I was going into downtown Reñaca, I swung by the beach and as I did so my car was surrounded by a mob of people and they started shaking the car when I drove through them carefully. I did not go faster, run anybody over, but I wasn’t going to stay and let them do something to my pick-up truck”, he added.
“In order to defend myself, I took my gun out and loaded it (…) and prepared myself for being assaulted. I don’t remember all the circumstances exactly, but I had to actually fire two shots at first before they all started coming running after me when I had to stop again and shot twice again”, he explained.
“I accidentally, apparently, hit somebody in the thigh. A man, I don’t know who that is. Now the police are telling me I have to be at fear of my own life”, he finished.
Years of neoliberal practises took a toll on Chileans. When a 30 peso fare hike was introduced in the Santiago Metro, peaceful protests by students evolved into violent clashes with police and the Armed Forces across the country.
Weeks of protests ended in Human Rights violations by the Government led by billionaire Sebastián Piñera because of police and military brutality. Hundreds of people lost an eye, for example.
This Sunday, Chile will decide whether to replace or not Pinochet’s Constitution in a historic referendum.