Police in Santiago de Chile, in 2022. Matias Basualdo (AP)
A police officer was murdered early this Sunday in Quillota, in the Chilean region of Valparaíso, by a group of criminals who robbed a house.
The 42-year-old woman in uniform, with 21 in the institution and mother of two children, ages 12 and 15, was killed by the thieves, who received the police with at least 30 shots.
The new martyr of the Carabineros de Chile, the second official assassinated so far in March, has generated a transversal indignation among the citizens and urges the political class, especially the Government of Gabriel Boric, to show results in the face of the main demand for the people: crime control, compared to figures that show serious problems of insecurity.
In the South American country, the action of organized crime has increased,
There were two detainees who will go to detention control this Sunday and the rest of the gang is still being sought by the police.
One of the arrested subjects, Edward Fuenzalida, 28, has a long record and was on the run, after having escaped from the Valparaíso prison in July 2021 along with five other men.
Last year, seven policemen died doing their jobs.
But since 2011 a policewoman has not been murdered.
The condemnation has been unanimous.
Chilean television channels broadcast live what is happening in Quillota, where the vice president, Carolina Tohá, and the general director of the Carabineros, Ricardo Yáñez, have moved.
Local media report that, outraged, a group of neighbors tried to rebuke them at the exit of the home of the family of Rita Olivares, the murdered police officer.
President Boric, before embarking in the Dominican Republic on his way to Chile, after participating in the Ibero-American Summit, called for dialogue between the different political sectors: "Here the fight is not against the government, nor against the mayors, nor against a parliamentarian or against anyone who is about to end crime.
The fight is against the criminals and in this I ask that we move towards national unity”,
Shortly before, he had expressed on social networks his "pain and heartbreak for the cowardly murder of the police sergeant, Rita Olivares, by criminals who have no place in our country."
“The Chilean people embrace their family, whom we will not leave alone.
We will mobilize all the strength of the State to do justice," wrote the left-wing president.
I ask you not to occupy this terrible fact to make political guerrilla that is useless.
I have no doubt that everyone's priority today, regardless of our differences, is to stop crime.
Let's unite as Chileans behind this cause and work together.
— Gabriel Boric Font (@GabrielBoric) March 26, 2023
The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Vlado Mirosevic, from the ruling party, sent his condolences to the sergeant's family: "The entire country is in mourning," said the congressman.
One of the opposition leaders, the president of the right-wing UDI party, Senator Javier Macaya, criticized the government: "Enough of symbolic reactions and announcements of complaints against those responsible," said the senator, who pushed La Moneda to give urgency this week in Parliament to bills related to public safety.
Among other initiatives, Macaya referred to the Naín Law, which
it toughens the penalties for crimes committed against officials of the Carabineros, the Investigative Police and the Gendarmerie.
When it was approved in December by the Chamber of Deputies, it was rejected by 20 parliamentarians from Apruebo Dignidad, Boric's original coalition.
The new murder of a police officer occurs at a complex moment in the Chilean debate on crime control.
Two weeks ago, a policeman was attacked by criminals in Concepción, some 500 kilometers south of Santiago de Chile, and died after 48 hours.
The general director of the Carabineros, Ricardo Yáñez, expressed his indignation: "Enough is enough, enough is enough," he assured before the institution's martyr 1231, along with directly criticizing the Prosecutor's Office and congressmen for not delivering "conditions" to the police to perform your job.
Minister Tohá called him to order and the general was summoned to La Moneda.
It was a controversial episode because it was interpreted, by some sectors, especially the opposition, as a lack of public support for an institution that was overwhelmed in the social outbreak of 2019,
that it committed human rights violations and that, with the passage of time, has once again gained prestige among the citizens.
The police, Carabineros and the Armed Forces are the institutions most valued by people after universities, according to the latest survey by the Center for Public Studies, CEP, released in January.
The pardons granted at the end of 2022 by President Boric to a group of 13 convicted, 12 of them related to crimes of the social outbreak of 2019, have only made the conversations more complex.
The president's decision, which a few days ago was endorsed by the Constitutional Court, continues to be the subject of political debate.
It was a delicate signal regarding La Moneda's commitment against crime and, among other consequences, paralyzed Tohá's negotiations with the opposition regarding a transversal public security agenda.
Among those pardoned was Jordano Jesús Santander Riquelme, sentenced to seven years in prison and three sentences remitted after attacking a police station in San Antonio in March 2020, in the same Valparaíso Region.