Civil society and opposition protest use of public funds for Pope Francis' visit

Peaceful Assembly

In response to Catholic Pope Francis' visit to Chile in January 2018, several demonstrations took place to denounce the use of public funds for the visit, especially as poverty among the population remains a pressing issue in the country. Several organisations and trade unions - such as Unidad Revolucionaria, Sindicato Sintrac and Comité de Iniciativa por la Unidad Sindical - marched in Santiago under the slogan: "la marcha de los pobres" (march of the poor). The demonstration was repressed by security officers who claimed that the action had not been authorised. It was reported that at least 20 people were arrested.  

A few days before the Pope's arrival on 12th January, a political party briefly occupied the Nunciatura in Santiago, where the Pope was to sleep, to also demonstrate their discontent with the costs incurred for the visit to the country. That same day and the next couple of days, several churches were firebombed. At the time of writing, no one had claimed responsibility for the attacks. 


In January 2018, Chile's General Prosecutor's Office requested the closure of a criminal case against members of the Mapuche indigenous community on the basis that police had falsified evidence and planted it on the Mapuche leaders' cell phones. The incident occurred in September 2017, when eight members of the community were arrested in relation to alleged acts of violence that took place in La Araucanía during the so-called “Operación Huracán”. The Prosecutor General’s Office later deemed the police evidence as having been falsified and has now filed a complaint against seven police officials involved in the incident.

In regards to the claims of fraudulent police action against the community members, organisation Derechos Digitales (Digital Rights) noted with concern that

"This is very serious and it is necessary to get to the bottom. So serious is that it gives us a unique opportunity to review, reform and generate greater instances of control of the operating model of intelligence services in Chile. This is necessary and urgent. The moment is now. Do not waste it". (Translated from Spanish).