External resources relating to Chile

In the months before the world went into lockdown to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the people of Chile were rising up in their thousands to demand an end to neoliberal polices that have created a society rife with inequality. On the streets, protesters were met with gunfire, tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets. Behind the closed doors of interrogation cells, they were met with torture, rape and sexual violence.

In early February, mourners came together to remember the life of 37-year-old Jorge Mora – a man whose life ended on 28 January, hours after a police truck slammed into him outside a football stadium... protestors and mourners were soon fleeing stinging tear gas fired off by riot police who showed little care for where and who they aimed at.

This image shows South American state-owned companies that produce law enforcement equipment, providing information on the goods they produce, transfers, commercial alliances and promotional activity.  Company ownership provides states with additional control over the manufacture and trade of law enforcement equipment, but also comes with human rights obligations.

Latin America is witnessing a steady movement toward the militarization of the police, with the armed forces taking over many of the day to day functions of community policing.  But given Latin America’s past troubles with military governments, this development is raising serious concerns. In the 1960s and 1970s a spate of coups across the region brought harsh right-wing regimes to power, with the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay deploying their militaries as internal security forces, purging their countries of domestic political opponents, real and imagined. Now many fear that we may be heading back toward the bad old days, with unbridled militaries running riot over the citizenry...

The following report highlights three local and international companies that manufacture “non-lethal” crowd control weapons. These weapons are currently used by Israeli authorities and security forces, mainly to suppress non-violent demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, in violation of the right to freedom of expression and association. Despite the fact that they are often labeled as “nonlethal” weapons, they have already been proven as potentially lethal in different incidents around the world, when the use of these weapons led to the death of demonstrators.

The report focuses on three types of weapons as case studies: tear gas canisters, which are produces and marketed by Combined Systems, Inc. (CSI) and M.R. Hunter; “the Scream”, manufactured by Electro-Optics Research & Development (EORD) and LRAD; and “the Skunk”, which is manufactured by Odortec, with the supporting companies: Man and BeitAlfa Technologies. The report will highlight the harmful consequences of these weapons, including their potentially lethal effects. The occupied Palestinian territories are being used as a lab for testing new civil oppression weapons on humans, in order to label them as “proven effective” for marketing abroad.

The report, Preach What You Practice: The Separation of Military and Police Roles in the Americas, from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) provides a background briefing on key distinctions between military and police functions. It calls on the Obama Administration to change direction, and stop encouraging the military forces of other countries to take on roles that would be illegal for the U.S. Armed Forces to carry out at home. The authors, a team of WOLA’s regional security experts, set out specific steps to be taken by both United States and countries in the region.

Israeli military exports to South America have been on the rise in the recent years. Brazil is gearing up to become the gateway for Israeli military technology and companies. Israel continues to be a top supplier of the Colombian military. Ecuador, while not having extensive military ties with Israel, has recently purchased drone aircraft. Chile, already a buyer of Israeli arms, also has expressed interest in similar drone technology.

It is the goal of this report to analyze these trends, both in light of recent events and also as they relate to the history of Israeli involvement in South America. We will highlight that it is impossible for South America’s democratic governments to reconcile protection of human rights - whether at home or abroad - with military ties and arms trade with Israel.

Any military ties with Israel support the state’s policies of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, policies whose sustainability depends on Israeli military capacities and the profits deriving from its military industry,  and adversely affect the Palestinians and their struggle. Israel has developed an indigenous military industry that produces much of the equipment used by its military.  International buyers help ensure the survival of the Israeli military industry.

Breathing air thick with teargas and smoke from makeshift barricades on Valparaiso’s street corners, Carla Casoni remembers feeling her skin and eyes burn with the chemical-infused water used as a common police tactic to disperse demonstrators. “I lost vision temporarily so I was an easy target for the police,” she says. Casoni is one of nearly 30,000 people who have been detained, many arbitrarily, in more than two months of unrest that has swept across Chile.