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Chile anniversary rallies turn violent as churches burned, police fire tear gas


By: Reuters | Santiago |

October 19, 2020 2:34:59 pm

An anti-government protester strikes a pose close to a burning barricade in Santiago, Chile, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. (AP Photograph/Esteban Felix)

Tens of hundreds of Chileans gathered within the central sq. of Santiago to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests that left over 30 lifeless and hundreds injured, with peaceable rallies on Sunday devolving by dusk into riots and looting.

Folks gathered early within the day in demonstrations downtown and in cities all through Chile that gained dimension and fervor by the night. Many touted indicators and rainbow coloured selfmade banners calling for a “sure” vote subsequent Sunday in a referendum over whether or not to scrap the nation’s dictatorship-era Structure, a key demand of the 2019 protests.

The demonstrations, whereas largely peaceable early on, had been marred by rising incidents of violence, looting of supermarkets and clashes with police throughout the capital later within the day. Fireplace truck sirens, burning barricades on roadways and fireworks on downtown streets added to a way of chaos in some neighborhoods.

Inside Minister Victor Perez spoke late within the night, praising the early, peaceable rallies whereas blasting the late-night mayhem. He referred to as on Chileans to settle their variations by voting within the upcoming Oct. 25 constitutional referendum.

“Those that perform these acts of violence don’t need Chileans to unravel our issues by democratic means,” Perez advised reporters, vowing to punish those that crossed the road Sunday.

Early within the day, an offended mob jeered and threatened a Communist Get together mayor. Later, masked people firebombed a police headquarters and church. Vandals attacked one other Santiago church within the early night, setting its spire aflame and choking aspect streets with smoke.

Greater than 15 metro stations had been briefly closed amid the unrest. Police fired tear fuel and water cannons in skirmishes with typically violent, hooded and masked folks.

Final 12 months’s protests, which started Oct. 18, raged till mid-December as Chileans gathered nationwide to name for reforms to the pension, healthcare and training programs. Rioting and looting resulted in billions of {dollars} in injury and losses to the nation’s companies and infrastructure. The unrest noticed the navy take to the streets for the primary time for the reason that rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Police estimated that Sunday’s rally in Santiago attracted round 25,000 folks by 6 p.m., far smaller than the biggest protests of 2019.

Prior to now few days, small-scale demonstrations and remoted incidents of violence have nonetheless resurfaced in Chile, because the capital’s 6 million residents emerge from months of confinement following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most demonstrators on Sunday wore masks, however many may very well be seen in tight teams, elevating considerations a few potential well being threat.

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