12 de noviembre de 2019
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Hispanic World

At least 8 dead in Chile as mass riots over metro price hike continue

(Update 3: adds details, quotes)

(Update 3: adds details, quotes)

Santiago de Chile, Oct 20 (efe-epa).- The death toll of riots in Chile rose to at least eight Sunday after firefighters confirmed five people died in a clothing store fire in the capital’s Renca commune.

The store caught fire after being looted during rioting in Santiago, which broke out Friday over social inequality and scarcities but was sparked by complaints about the government's hiking of local metro fares.

"We are at war with a powerful and relentless enemy that respects nothing and no one, and is willing to use violence without any limit even if it means the loss of human lives, for the sole purpose of producing as much damage as possible," Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said at a Sunday press conference.

The Chilean lower house of congress approved a bill eliminating the metro fair price hike Sunday evening. The bill passed in a 103-1 vote, with one abstention, and will now be forwarded to the Senate for ratification Monday.

Pinera submitted the bill on an urgent basis with an eye toward ending the violent protests that have beset the country over the past few days.

"They are at war against all Chileans who want to live in democracy," he said of the protesters.

The president said he understood citizens were demonstrating about their concerns, but called people behind the arsons, barricades and looting "real criminals," and urged the people and all political forces to stand against this violence.

He said authorities had made a huge effort to ensure Monday was "as normal a day as possible," with the operation of one of the metro lines, and called for solidarity among Chileans to help one another with transport when necessary.

Earlier Sunday, violence continued in the capital and elsewhere with heavy clashes between protesters and security forces, looting, fires and pillaging.

Authorities Saturday afternoon had confirmed the death of three people after finding a body in a supermarket that was torched earlier in the day in Santiago – the latest fatality after two others died under similar circumstances.

That third body was found amid the ruins of a store on Matucana Street in Santiago, while the other two were found in a supermarket in the capital's San Bernardo commune, an area rioters looted and burned.

Two people were seriously injured by gunfire Sunday morning at a military checkpoint in the Santiago neighborhood of Puente Alto, Chilean Interior Minister Andres Chadwick said.

Chadwick told reporters that some "50 violent events" occurred in the Metro Region, along with 53 other such incidents Saturday night and Sunday morning elsewhere in the country.

In addition, he said 62 Carabineros officers – Chile's militarized police – and 15 civilians were injured during weekend clashes.

The minister said police arrested 244 people Saturday night and Sunday morning who were violating the curfew imposed in three of the country’s regions.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich said 32 people are hospitalized in the Metro Region, 10 of them in serious condition, and that 208 people were given medical care for assorted lesser injuries.

Manalich confirmed a Colombian citizen died from a bullet wound, although he said circumstances surrounding that death have not been clarified.

Meanwhile, Maj.-Gen. Javier Iturriaga, in charge of security in the Metro Region during the state of emergency decreed by the government, told reporters that Saturday night was "very unpleasant and disturbed" with vandalism and "a lot of looting" taking place.

He went on to declare another curfew in Santiago from 10 pm Sunday to 6 am Monday "to protect the lives of everyone," in light of the weekend protests.

"We're hoping it's a calm day. I hope that it won't be necessary to declare another curfew," Iturriaga had said earlier, adding that 3,000 soldiers had been mobilized to control the situation in the Metro Region together with some 5,000 Carabineros and police.

The state of emergency has been in place in five Chilean regions since Saturday morning: almost the entire capital, Valparaiso, Concepcion, the communes of Coquimbo and La Serena in the Coquimbo region, and in the Rancagua commune since Sunday morning.

In addition, a curfew was decreed in Santiago, Valparaiso and Concepcion, as well as in La Serena, Coquimbo and Valdivia, and authorities have announced it will continue in those cities between 10 pm and 6 am.

More than 20,000 homes reportedly had no electricity in the Metro Region and a significant amount of debris was said to be littering the streets where security forces clashed with protesters.

The Santiago subway remained closed Sunday, but city buses were operating normally. Additionally, more than 90 domestic and international flights to and from the capital airport were canceled, leaving some 5,000 people stranded Sunday morning.

The deployment of troops at various spots countrywide was ordered to try and control the riots resulting from the radicalization last Friday of protests over a hike in metro prices, the tip of the iceberg in a society marred by scarcities, the high cost of living and inequality. EFE-EPA

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Contenido relacionado

3 Dead in riots, supermarket fires in Chilean capital

Santiago de Chile, Oct 20 (efe-epa).- The death toll in the disturbances in Chile rose to three on Sunday, with authorities confirming the finding of a body in a supermarket that was torched earlier in the day in Santiago, the latest fatality coming after two other people died under similar circumstances.

The third body was found amid the ruins of a store on Matucana Street in Santiago, while the other two were found in a supermarket in the capital's San Bernardo commune, an area that rioters looted and burned.

Along with those first two bodies, authorities found the body of a third person in the Metropolitan Region who, at first, was said to have died, although authorities then said that the person was hospitalized with burns over 75 percent of their body.

Chilean Interior Minister Andres Chadwick said that on Sunday morning, at a military checkpoint in the Santiago neighborhood of Puente Alto, an incident occurred in which two people were seriously injured by gunfire.

Chadwick told reporters that some "50 violent events" occurred in the Metro Region, along with 53 other such events elsewhere in the country, on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

In addition, he said that 62 officers with the Carabineros - Chile's militarized police - and 15 civilians were injured during the clashes over the weekend.

Finally, he said that on Sunday morning in three regions of the country police arrested 244 people who were violating the curfew imposed there.

Health Minister Jaime Mañalich said that 32 people are hospitalized in the Metro Region, 10 of them in serious condition, and that 208 people were given medical care for assorted lesser injuries.

Mañalich confirmed that a Colombian citizen died from a bullet wound, although he said that the circumstances surrounding that death have not yet been clarified.

Meanwhile, Gen. Javier Iturriaga, who is in charge of security in the Metro Region during the state of emergency decreed by the government, told reporters that Saturday night was "very unpleasant and disturbed" with vandalism and "a lot of looting" taking place.

He went on to declare another curfew in Santiago from 10 pm Sunday to 6 am Monday "to protect the lives of everyone," in light of the weekend protests.

"We're hoping it's a calm day. I hope that it won't be necessary to declare another curfew," Iturriaga had said earlier, adding that 3,000 soldiers had been mobilized to control the situation in the Metro Region together with some 5,000 Carabineros and police.

The state of emergency has been in place in five Chilean regions since Saturday morning: almost the entire capital, Valparaiso, Concepcion, the communes of Coquimbo and La Serena in the Coquimbo region, and in the Rancagua commune since Sunday morning.

In addition, a curfew was decreed overnight until 7 am in Santiago, Valparaiso and Concepcion, and authorities have announced it will continue in the latter city between 10 pm and 6 am.

More than 20,000 homes were reported to be without electricity in the Metro Region and a significant amount of debris was said to be littering the streets where security forces clashed with protesters.

The Santiago Metro remains closed but city buses were operating normally, while more than 90 domestic and international flights to and from the capital airport were cancelled and on Sunday morning some 5,000 people were stranded there.

The deployment of troops at various spots around the country was ordered to try and control the riots resulting from the radicalization last Friday of the protests over a hike in metro prices, the tip of the iceberg in a society fed up with scarcities, the high cost of living and inequality.

Curfew imposed in several Chilean cities amid unrest, 3 killed in fire

Santiago de Chile, Oct 20 (efe-epa).- Chile's government has decreed a curfew in the South American nation's capital and extended the ongoing state of emergency to other regions as demonstrators protesting the country's inequality and rise in the cost of living continued to clash with police; meanwhile, three people were killed in a man-made fire at a supermarket, officials said on Sunday.

Karla Rubilar, the governor of the capital Metropolitan Region, confirmed early on Sunday that three people died overnight after being engulfed by flames inside a supermarket in Santiago, whose population was under military curfew.

The curfew came into effect at 10 pm, less than 24 hours after authorities announced a state of emergency that saw thousands of troops being deployed throughout Santiago in a bid to quell the unrest sparked by the latest increase in the price of the city's metro fare.

The defense ministry later announced it was deploying an additional 1,500 troops to the city, bringing the total number of soldiers up to 9,441 spread throughout the Metropolitan Region.

The emergency measures granting temporary military rule were extended to the coastal regions of Valparaíso – located some 150 kilometers (93 miles) to the west of Santiago – and Concepcion – about 600 km to the southwest of the capital – where massive student-led protests have also taken place.

Adm. Juan Andres de la Maza, who has been tasked by President Sebastian Piñera with quelling the unrest in Valparaiso and the neighboring city of Viña del Mar, said the curfew there would start taking effect at midnight.

Interior Minister Andres Chadwick later announced another curfew starting at 2 am affecting the province of Concepcion.

Major-Gen. Javier Iturriaga, who has taken command over the army's security operation in the capital, said the curfews would last until 7 am on Sunday.

"Taking into account our legal obligation to protect people and their property, I've made the decision to decree the suspension of the personal freedom of movement through a total curfew," he said.

The curfew implies that people in the affected parts of the so-called Metropolitan Region are compelled to remain in their houses during the nine hours that the measure is set to be in effect. Those who are forced to leave their residences for health or emergency reasons need to request a letter of safe-conduct from the nearest police station.

Anyone leaving or entering the country through Santiago's international airport during the curfew is required to show authorities their plane ticket to avoid arrest.

The high-altitude border crossing between Chile and Argentina known as Los Libertadores – the main terrestrial link between the neighboring Andean nations – has been closed until the curfew is lifted.

Despite Piñera's announcement that the controversial metro fare hike that prompted the uprising would be suspended, protesters – fueled by general discontent over social issues such as the pensions system, public education and electricity and gas prices, as well as rising healthcare costs – had continued to gather throughout the day in the capital and other Chilean cities such as Concepcion or Valparaiso.

Piñera said a law needed to be urgently passed to reverse the increase in the price of Santiago metro tickets – which had jumped to 830 pesos ($1.20) during peak hours – and implement policies to reduce the influence of fluctuations in the value of the United States dollar or oil prices on citizens' cost of living.

Such a move, he said, would provide "a solution to the high cost of living, provide security, a drop in the price of medicines and greater guarantees within our healthcare system."

Earlier on Saturday, thousands of residents of the capital had banged pots and pans or honked their car horns to signal their unhappiness with the government. After nightfall, however, small groups of radicals started lighting buses, subway stations and public furniture on fire and looting supermarkets, prompting security forces to respond with armored vehicles and live gunshots into the air in an attempt to disperse them.

The two main hotbeds of unrest were the Plaza Italia square in downtown Santiago – a site commonly used to stage big protests – and the Maipu commune.

Subway services have remained completely suspended since Friday. EFE-EPA

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