Chile Defence & Security Report 2014
Over 2012 and 2013, the threats to Chile's security have transformed into internal ones, moving away from external threats. The country continues to witness widespread sporadic protests against the government, which also continued through 2012. 2013 was also witness to several protests against lax environmental regulation and rising unemployment. These protests saw the government mobilising police forces armed with teargas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators. While security threats to Chile from international sources such as its on-going territorial dispute with Bolivia, and international terrorist groups remains dormant and benign, the country faces the risks of internal dissonance between the government and those sections of the society demanding economic and social improvement.
Though the incidents of civil unrest were primarily targeted at the policies of Sebastian Pinera's rightwing administration, the election of left-wing politician Michelle Bachelet in November 2013 as the country President will most likely lead to a fall in the occurrence of civilian protests.
Public dissatisfaction with the government's education and energy policies reached a peak in 2012 after which 2013 was relatively quieter. By continuing for almost three years, these clashes have dealt a severe blow to the government's credibility, with several regions of Chile also commencing protests to demand autonomy.
The trend of violent clashes continued in 2013 with hostility erupting in September 2013 during protests to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1973 military coup. While more than 260 people were arrested, around 42 police officers were injured, with one police general being struck on the head with a petrol bomb. Further, several cars and buses were set alight and power lines severed.
October 2013 brought clashes once again when indigenous groups protested in Santiago during an anti-Columbus Day march on the day marking the 521st anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas. The march was organised by Chile's largest indigenous group - the Mapuches - who have been locked in a long struggle against the national government over ancestral land taken from them during colonisation. Currently the Chilean government treats the Mapuches as terrorists under an anti-terrorism law. The protest also aimed to demand an end to this.
October also witnessed the sixth major student protest of 2013 when students marched on the eve of the presidential elections demanding a bigger say in the country's decision making process. While largely peaceful, the clashes were marred by small clashes between the police and a group of hooded militants. Needless to say, those marching also demanded a reform of the education system that has been prevalent since the 1970s.
BMI expects defence expenditure to grow by 6.7% to CLP2.85tn (US$5.8bn) in 2013, compared to an estimated growth of 1.4% in 2012 and 9.5% observed in 2011. This total defence expenditure will rise 19.23% to CLP3.3tn (US$6.9bn).