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

Chile anniversary rallies turn violent as churches burned, police fire tear gas
Tens of thousands of Chileans gathered within the central square of Santiago to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests that left over 30 dead and thousands injured, with peaceful rallies on Sunday devolving by nightfall into riots and looting.
People gathered early within the day in demonstrations downtown and in cities throughout Chile that gained size and fervor through the evening. Many touted signs and rainbow colored homemade banners calling for a “yes” vote next Sunday during a referendum over whether to scrap the country’s dictatorship-era Constitution, a key demand of the 2019 protests.
The demonstrations, while largely peaceful early , were marred by increasing incidents of violence, looting of supermarkets and clashes with police across the capital later within the day. fire engine sirens, burning barricades on roadways and fireworks on downtown streets added to a way of chaos in some neighborhoods.
Interior Minister Victor Perez spoke late within the evening, praising the first , peaceful rallies while blasting the late-night mayhem. He called on Chileans to settle their differences by voting within the upcoming Oct. 25 constitutional referendum.
“Those who perform these acts of violence don’t want Chileans to unravel our problems through democratic means,” Perez told reporters, vowing to punish those that crossed the road Sunday.
Early within the day, an angry mob jeered and threatened a Communist Party mayor. Later, masked individuals firebombed a police station and church. Vandals attacked another Santiago church within the early evening, setting its spire aflame and choking side streets with smoke.
More than 15 metro stations were temporarily closed amid the unrest. Police fired tear gas and water cannons in skirmishes with sometimes violent, hooded and masked people.
Last year’s protests, which began Oct. 18, raged until mid-December as Chileans gathered nationwide to involve reforms to the pension, healthcare and education systems. Rioting and looting resulted in billions of dollars in damage and losses to the country’s businesses and infrastructure. The unrest saw the military fancy the streets for the primary time since the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Police estimated that Sunday’s rally in Santiago attracted around 25,000 people by 6 p.m., far smaller than the most important protests of 2019.
In the past few days, small-scale demonstrations and isolated incidents of violence have nonetheless resurfaced in Chile, because the capital’s 6 million citizens emerge from months of confinement following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most demonstrators on Sunday wore masks, but many might be seen in tight groups, raising concerns a few potential health risk.

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