Santiago: Two church buildings had been torched as tens of hundreds of demonstrators gathered Sunday in a central Santiago sq. to mark the anniversary of a protest motion that broke out final yr demanding higher equality in Chile.
The demonstration comes only a week earlier than Chileans vote in a referendum on whether or not to exchange the dictatorship-era structure — one of many key calls for when the protest motion started in October 2019.
Whereas the morning introduced a largely festive ambiance to the protests at Plaza Italia, there have been a number of incidences of violence, looting and vandalism within the afternoon.
One church near Plaza Italia was burned to the bottom as hooded protesters cheered, whereas a second place of worship was looted and in addition suffered hearth harm.
Firefighters managed to get that blaze below management.
“Burning churches is an expression of brutality,” mentioned Minister of the Inside and Safety Víctor Perez, including that the violence was coming from a “minority” of protesters.
The small Church of the Assumption, which was completely destroyed, is named the “artists’ parish,” in keeping with native press. The constructing dated again to 1876.
There have been clashes between teams of soccer hooligans in a single Santiago neighborhood, whereas protesters in Plaza Italia doused a statue with pink paint.
The communist mayor of a neighborhood close to the central sq., Daniel Jadue, was hounded out of Plaza Italia by protesters.
But it was a special feeling within the morning when demonstrators, many sporting masks to guard towards the coronavirus pandemic, held up banners, sang and danced. Police even regularly pulled again from the Plaza Italia.
“It’s great, very good and positive,” demonstrator Viviana Donoso, 43, advised AFP as she and a gaggle of individuals danced to drums.
“The people of Chile need to unite, and we have to believe that we can do things.”
Hopes of a ‘fairer Chile’
Demonstrators additionally referred to as for his or her countrymen to vote to “approve” the proposed constitutional change.
“This is the opportunity to say ‘enough!’ We’re here and we’re going to vote for ‘Approve,'” Paulina Villarroel, a 29-year-old psychologist, advised AFP.
The federal government of President Sebastian Pinera — one of many protesters’ important targets — referred to as on demonstrators to be peaceable and to respect coronavirus restrictions.
The lethal outbreak has killed 13,600 Chileans, with greater than 490,000 contaminated.
Protests broke out a yr in the past initially as a response to a hike in metro fares, earlier than mushrooming right into a common demonstration towards inequality and the federal government.
On one evening of unrest, a dozen metro stations had been set ablaze, bus stops had been smashed, supermarkets looted, buildings vandalized and protesters clashed with riot police who fired tear gasoline and used water cannons.