Have Empathy for the People of Chile
A letter from churches and ecumenical organization to President Sebastián Piñera
Eleven churches and ecumenical organizations addressed a letter to Chilean President, Mr. Sebastian Piñera Echenique, regarding the most recent civil unrest in the South American country. Quoting Psalm 85:8a, 10-11 (NRSV), the churches manifested, “God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people and that steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other” in the present situation of Chile.
As they reject the violence in Chile, which have taken the lives of at least 11 persons and caused the irresponsible destruction of countless public and private property essential to the quality of life of all citizens, the churches expressed their sentiment of not accepting the recent refusal from the Minister of the Interior of not providing explanations on the ways the government has been handling the crisis. They urge the government “to listen to numerous voices who have wanted to contribute or interpret the discontent, which have in turn made your government choose the path of ‘putting out the fire with benzine,’ as it was early and clearly stated by a well-respected journalist, while exclusively concentrating on the state of emergency declaration, which brought out the military to the streets.”
The churches and ecumenical organizations recognize the present crisis is structural by nature, created by previous governments and political institutions like the National Congress, yet they blame the actual administration by being, “responsible for minimizing the aspirations of deeper changes orientated toward the surmounting, the scandalous inequality, like if these were just political proposals foreign to the ‘needs of the people.’ Now, it is evident that thousands of people are tired of feeling invisible.” So, it is their moral obligation to share with President Piñera that, “the only way of achieving that unity will be by making a convincing gesture of true empathy with feelings and emotions that are overwhelming the citizens. It will not be possible to reestablish the public order, and the proper governing without establishing confidence, and it will need to be not just from your government, but also other political sectors, to make a true recognition of the gravity of the situation and ask for forgiveness for the lack of capability to discern the enormity or depth of outrage of our citizens.”
The churches and ecumenical organizations urged the reestablishment of the fulfillment of human rights in the country, as a fundamental first step to begin the constructive dialogue, which will permit the advancement of the needed social transformation in Chile.
The Popular Education in Health (EPES), the Theological Community of Chile (CTE), and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), Global Ministries Partners in Chile and internationally, were signatories of the letter. You can read the letter in English and Spanish.