Despite the fact that initially the demonstrations, in which more than 25,000 Chileans participated, were carried out peacefully, in the afternoon they led to riots and looting.
A young woman published an image on social networks in which she is observed inside a religious compound, celebrating the fire that broke out in a church in Chile during the commemoration of the first anniversary of the massive social protests that broke out at the end of last year .
Through Instagram, the woman who uses the pseudonym “peppadelkaos” published the photograph in which she is seen raising her arms in a sign of victory, while the fire consumes some areas of the religious compound.
“The only church that illuminates is the one that burns”, is the message that accompanied the photograph.
After the image went viral, the young woman decided to withdraw the publication and closed her account.
Despite the fact that initially the demonstrations, in which more than 25 thousand Chileans participated, were carried out peacefully, in the afternoon they led to riots, looting and arson attacks.
The demonstrations, which started early, marked the first anniversary of the massive social protests against inequality that broke out on October 18 of last year, which left more than 30 dead, thousands of injuries and severe material damage.
Banging pots, waving posters and banners, the participants called to vote “I approve” next Sunday in a referendum on the possibility of writing a new Constitution to replace the text dating from the military dictatorship (1973-1990), a key demand of the 2019 protests.
Largely peaceful at first, the protests were marred in the afternoon by an increase in violence, looting of shops and clashes with the police in various parts of the city.
Firefighters sirens, incendiary roadblocks and fireworks on the streets of downtown Santiago added to the sense of chaos in some neighborhoods. There were demonstrations and fires in infrastructures also in other cities of the country.
A mayor of the Communist Party of a municipality in Santiago was booed and threatened during the day; later, masked vandals attacked a police headquarters and a church of the armed institution. Masked groups attacked another church in Santiago in the early hours of the night, lighting its bell tower and filling nearby streets with smoke.
More than 15 subway stations were temporarily closed amid the riots. The police fired tear gas and jets of water in skirmishes with sometimes violent, hooded and masked protesters.
“Those who carry out these acts of violence do not want Chileans to solve our problems through democratic channels,” Interior Minister Víctor Pérez said at night after a meeting with President Sebastián Piñera and other authorities in the palace of government.
The official highlighted the peaceful start of the demonstrations and called on Chileans to resolve their differences at the polls on Sunday 25.
Last year’s demonstrations lasted until the end of the year and died down in March with the arrival of the coronavirus in the South American country, they took millions of Chileans to the streets to demand reforms and improvements to the pension, health and education systems.
But also in the midst of violent episodes of looting, riots and burning subway stations, the government then decreed a constitutional state of exception to leave the security of the capital in the hands of the military, something that had not happened since the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
Police estimated that Sunday’s rally in Santiago drew more than 25,000 people by late afternoon, far fewer than the largest protests of 2019.
Protests and violent incidents have resurfaced in recent weeks in Chile as citizens are slowly beginning to leave confinement behind. On Sunday most of the protesters wore masks, but there were many people gathered, raising concerns about possible health risks.
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