This afternoon, the Senate is expected to consider the request of the President of the Republic to extend the State of Emergency and thus curfew until 30 June. The initiative is likely to be approved as happened yesterday in the Chamber of Deputies, where by 102 votes in favour, 42 against and 4 abstentions, the green light was given to keep its way in the upper house. However, the favorable reception in Congress does not imply that the issue of limitations on personal freedoms does not continue to arouse criticism, both in political actors in the opposition and in security specialists.
This is the case of Eduardo Vergara, Executive Director of the Chile 21 Foundation. Vergara, and former head of the Public Security Division of the Ministry of the Interior, during Bachelet’s rule. For Vergara, the extension of the State of Emergency is a political instrument. «The government has abused the constitutional state of emergency to use it as an oxygen tank in order to govern,» he said on Radio ADN.
Vergara noted that the State of Emergency , «was decreed for health purposes and face a pandemic, however, the Executive has abused its application by using it as an oxygen tank to be able to govern and exercise control, which has even reached militarization,» he said.
On this decisive day, when it will finally be decided whether the measure continues until June 30, the executive director of the opposition-linked study center said that «the Senate has the opportunity to condition the approval of an extension to accountability and assurances that this will not continue to be used for other purposes. Their obligation is to curb the government’s abuse of this exceptionality.»
One of the points of discussion in the House yesterday, and also expected in the Senate today, is the technical justification and presentation of the data that the government handles to justify the extension. In this regard, Eduardo Vergara stated that «if the government is unable to demonstrate the success of this measure on the health situation, the Senate has a responsibility to deny approval until it is demonstrated, operational accounts are given and certainties are granted. It’s not about refusing if the extension is necessary, but it’s not about handing over a blank check that can be used freely,» he said.
Within the opposition, there were votes in favor of the government’s request, from the Democracy Party (PPD). The president of that heraldo Muñoz party stated that «Most parliamentarians opted for science, for the opinion of the experts. It seems to me that on an issue as important as this and in the midst of the extension of the pandemic, we must follow the opinion of the expert people, of epidemiologists. It seems to me that many parliamentarians thought that this should be the criterion for extending the State of Emergency and not the threats and blackmail of Minister Juan Luis Ossa, which was a disgrace, to condition aid, which is otherwise quite small, for the middle class and the most vulnerable sectors, to the approval of this State of Emergency» Muñoz said in conversation with El Mostrador on key
However, the PPD’s presidential candidate acknowledged that «perhaps a stricter assessment would have been needed, to say how much this has worked, what the figures for demobilization of people have worked. I don’t know if that data exists. But I rely on the opinion of the experts, who are surely based on comparative experiences»