Around a hundred residents of El Bosque, a town on the outskirts of Santiago, protested this Monday to denounce the lack of food and poverty they suffer due to the quarantine decreed by the Government to try to contain the coronavirus pandemic SARS-CoV-2.
“It is not against quarantine, it is against hunger,” said one of the protesters on a national television channel.
It is the first open confrontations with the Police after the Chilean capital entered total confinement last Friday night, after the sharp rise in infections, which today exceeded 46,000.
“The problem is not quarantine, it is the absence of a state that cares about its people,” added another neighbor.
After some protesters lit barricades and blocked the traffic of several streets of the commune, the Carabineros (Militarized Police) corps tried to dispel the protests and even used the water-launch car, however these continued at different points.
A middle-aged man, surrounded by cheering neighbors, demanded the mayor’s support: “The people have not received help from the municipality. Many people are unemployed (unemployed) and have no food.”
For his part, Sadi Melo, mayor of El Bosque, said on the Chilevisión channel that the “situation of hunger and lack of work” is “quite complex.”
“The basics are over for our people,” he added.
However, the mayor declared that “this is not resolved with violence” and called on the Government and the residents of the commune to “solve the problem” with “the solidarity of all.”
El Bosque, along with other towns in the south of Santiago, is one of the least-resourced communes in the Metropolitan region and where unemployment, overcrowding, and poverty lurk even more harshly in times of COVID-19.
The municipality assured through a public statement that it has distributed “more than 2,000 merchandise grants” in the neighborhood, “collaborating with 75 boxes for the San Francisco villas and 83 for the Vicente Huidobro population, places where the protest was registered this morning ”
He also expressed “great concern” at the measures taken by the government, which he described as “insufficient for the effects that this pandemic is causing.”
The president of the country, Sebastián Piñera, announced this Sunday the implementation of five measures in support of the most “vulnerable and needy middle class” and mypimes, one of which is the delivery of 2.5 million baskets of food and items basic to the poorest families in the country.
“Our budget is affected by this pandemic and we need the State as a whole to put its hand to the heart because those who need it are the most vulnerable sectors of society,” replied the mayor of El Bosque.
Health authorities warned on Monday of the stress to which the country’s hospital network is subjected, especially in Santiago, and reported that 2,278 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus were registered in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of infected at 46,059.
The pronounced growth in the newly infected, which exceed 2,000 cases daily, forced the Government to order a strict quarantine of at least one week in the metropolitan area of Santiago since last Friday, a measure that affects nearly 8 million people and that it had been discarded since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the country on March 3.
Hospital occupancy at the national level is around 81%, but in the capital the situation is more critical and occupancy has already reached 93%, although authorities assured that there are still 526 ventilators available.