Violent protests spread in Chile – despite gvmt backdown

21 Oct 2019

Violent protests, looting and riots in Chile grew over the weekend despite President Sebastián Piñera’s decision to backtrack on planned metro price increases that had started the protests.
On Sunday, the government announced a state of emergency and implemented a curfew in the capital Santiago for the second consecutive night.
“I have listened with humility to the voice of my compatriots,” said Mr Piñera on Saturday evening. “They have good reasons to do so. But no one has the right to act with the brutal and criminal violence of those that have destroyed, burnt or damaged more than 78 metro stations in Santiago.”
He added: “I call on all my compatriots to unite in this battle against violence and delinquency.”
The U-turn is not, agree many experts, now sufficient to end the situation.
According to analysis by the Financial Times: “One of Latin America’s wealthiest and most stable countries, Chile had long been considered immune to the kind of angry, anti-austerity protests which have characterised other nations in the region, most recently Ecuador. But, amid widespread anger over rising living costs, a rise in fares on the Santiago metro system earlier this month proved the last straw.”
Andrés Chadwick, the country’s Interior Minister, said at least seven people had died in incidents related to the protests.
Officials confirm that there have been more 70 “serious incidents of violence”, including 40 lootings of supermarkets and other businesses. Two people also suffered gunshot wounds after a shoot-out with police.
“We're facing a real escalation that is undoubtedly organised to cause serious damage to our country and the lives of each of its citizens,” Mr Chadwick said.
Around 10,500 police and soldiers have been deployed to the streets.

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