Police and Military
Chile’s Carabineros are probably the continent’s most professional police, with a reputation for integrity and a low tolerance for corruption (Argentine motorists, accustomed to bribing their own cops to avoid traffic tickets, have had vehicles confiscated for trying to do so in Chile). Known popularly but scornfully as pacos by some Chileans, the Carabineros are normally polite and helpful in public but can be stern with lawbreakers—or individuals they suspect of being lawbreakers.
Chile’s figure of 240 police officers per million inhabitants is below the world average of 286, but somehow there always seems to be an officer within sight.
During Pinochet’s dictatorship, the military were feared, but since the return to constitutional government and especially since his detention and arrest in London, they keep a low public profile. The current leadership appears committed to constitutional rule.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition