MARCH 2022
Riot police act during a 2019 demonstration against Chilean President Sebastian Pinera's government [File: Claudio Reyes/AFP]

Chilean families still seeking justice for victims of repression

Talcahuano, Chile – In the final weeks of his presidency, Sebastian Pinera visited the port city of Talcahuano, Chile, last month to inaugurate the construction of a navy vessel. The site is sandwiched between the sea and green forest, in an expansive private area exclusive to the navy and their families.

It is a far cry from nearby Libertad, a vulnerable neighbourhood where Manuel Rebolledo Ibacache lives with his wife, Luisa Navarrete. Here, generations of families are packed into cramped homes built in the shadow of large, foul-smelling fishing warehouses.

When Pinera last visited this area in October 2021, the couple staged a protest in hopes of catching his attention, draping a banner with their son’s face and large letters spelling “justice” along the side of the street. Pinera’s car drove straight past them.

Their son, Manuel, was killed during a period of violent unrest in October 2019 after he was hit by a navy truck.

“We want justice. We want the man who killed our son to go to jail, and we want the president to go to jail,” Rebolledo Ibacache told Al Jazeera. “The president is leaving office with a clean slate, even though he’s 100 percent to blame.”

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