Conflicts & War

Work begins to reopen Chilean station entrance closed since 2019 protests

Santiago, Apr 3 (EFE).- Work kicked off on Monday to reopen the main entrance to the Chilean capital’s Baquedano metro station, which is located near the iconic, like-named square that was the focal point of the social unrest that rocked the country in 2019.

That entrance has been closed to the public since then because of the damage it suffered and turned into a citizen’s monument.

The remodeling effort, part of leftist Chilean President Gabriel Boric’s plan to recover public spaces, also aims to preserve that entrance’s symbolic significance.

“We’ve seen (the interest in) pitting the idea of security against the idea of human rights, and I think this space serves to refute that,” the presidential delegate for the Metropolitan Region, Constanza Martinez, said.

She said Plaza Baquedano, a landmark that is popularly known as Plaza Italia and was renamed Plaza de la Dignidad by demonstrators during those 2019 protests against social inequality, is a “historic site” and deserves recognition as such.

“We’ve celebrated sporting triumphs, like the Copa America. We’ve had the biggest marches in the history of our country, and there also have been countrymen who lost their lives, and this place intends to recognize that and to be a space for memory,” Martinez told reporters.

“We’re going to remain certain and convinced of the need to recover these public spaces because they improve the quality of life, security. It makes local residents feel safer, and we also want this space to recover its historical” character as one of Santiago’s nerve centers.

Oval-shaped Plaza Baquedano has been a focal point for major celebrations and disturbances in Chile, with people gathering there to celebrate the 1988 “no” vote on dictator Augusto Pinochet’s continuance in power and the national team’s third-place finish in the 1962 World Cup, as well as to stage student protests in 2006 and 2011.

For residents of Santiago, that square also is regarded as an invisible dividing line between the capital’s affluent and poor neighborhoods. EFE


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