I’ll have more on the Chilean student protests later this week, but it’s worth noting that the moves towards justice have been swift in the wake of a policeman killing of Manuel Gutiérrez Reinoso, a teenage student who was uninvolved with the protests. A judge has already opened an investigation into the killing; Miguel Millacura, the officer who killed Reinoso, is facing 20 years in prison for homocide and has been removed from the carabineros (the Chilean national police force); and Chile’s Minister of the Interior (which has jurisdiction of the Carabineros) has demanded the resignation of Carabinero General Sergio Gajarado, who prematurely exculpated all of his men.
Obviously, the death of a student is a tragedy, and the particular nature of this death only adds to the legitimacy of the student protest movement’s popular support and increases opposition to the government of right-wing president Sebastian Piñera. Nonetheless, it’s also good to see the legal system and government moving quickly to identify, investigate, and (presumably) prosecute Millacura. It would be good in any circumstances, but given the past of legal impunity for the armed forces against Chilean civilians, it’s important not to take for granted the current stability of an impartial judicial system that prosecutes state-committed crimes.