Diplomacy
Alberto Fernandez's Criticism of Piñera Unleashes Diplomatic Conflict
The government of Chile expressed a strong complaint following statements made by the Argentine president about the suppression of protests in the Andean country.

Amidst tension with Brazil, tugging it out with the U.S. and a broken relationship with Bolivia for sheltering Evo Morales, Argentina's new president Alberto Fernández added a new front of external conflict with his remarks on the conflict in Chile, which cost him a strong formal complaint from Sebastián Piñera's government.

The Chilean foreign ministry issued a statement demanding the Argentine president to avoid expressing an opinion on his internal affairs, after Fernández said that the international community is not as critical of the arrests made because of the crisis in Chile as it is of the situation in Venezuela.

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Chile reported that Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera called his Argentine counterpart Felipe Solá to express his "surprise" at Fernández's comments. He also reminded him of "the convenience of not issuing opinions on domestic political situations in the respective countries".

Last Sunday, during an interview on América TV, the Peronist leader compared the situations in Chile and Venezuela and said that the international community "talks less" about the human rights violations allegedly committed in the trans-Andean country than about other crises.

"I remembered days ago, when I received Venezuelan human rights organizations in 2013, when Maduro, after a demonstration, put 800 people in prison. Piñera put 2,500 people in jail and nothing happens, nobody says anything," Fernández said. "Let's be fair, let's say everything," added the Argentine, who said he had a great relationship with Piñera.

Foreign Minister Ribera told Solá that in Chile "there is full rule of law" and that "it is not the president of the Republic, but the police, the Public Prosecutor's Office and the courts of justice, the institutions that have the power to arrest, investigate, judge and sentence those responsible of crimes".

The alleged human rights violations by the Chilean security forces were denounced by different local and international organizations, such as Human Right Watch and Amnesty International. Piñera has acknowledged specific abuses by his forces, but has denied that there is a systematic policy of attacking protesters.

The latest report from the Chilean National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) indicates that since the beginning of the revolts, last October 18, until November 30, 8,492 people have been arrested, of which 1,013 were children and youths. The same body has so far filed 943 complaints against the security forces, of which 750 are for alleged torture and 134 for sexual violence. The number of fatalities differs between 24 (official figure) and 28 (figure maintained by the human rights agencies). 

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