In the course of the protests that erupted on 18 October in response to an increase in subway fares in the capital, Santiago, RSF has registered many cases of targeted violence by both security forces and protesters against reporters working for Chilean and international media outlets.
The attacks against the press have taken many forms including an arson attack on the headquarters of the El Mercurio newspaper in Valparaíso, arbitrary and often violent arrests, the firing of rubber bullets and live rounds by soldiers and police at reporters covering protests, the firing of teargas grenades at BBC TV and Telesur crew, attacks by protesters against Chilevisión, TVN, Radio Bío Bío and Mega TV crews, and intimidation campaigns and calls for violence against the media on social networks.
“The climate of intense hatred towards the media and violence by the security forces that has been observed since 18 October, in a country that had been press freedom model for the past two decades, is extremely worrying,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau.
“President Piñera must take stock of these excesses and must take the decisions that are needed to rein in the violence. Clear instructions must be given to the police and army to guarantee the safety of journalists throughout the country.”
The week-old wave of protests by the civil society against social and economic inequalities has been accompanied by strikes, looting and violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators, with a toll of at least 18 dead in six days.
Chile is ranked 46th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.