08 de julio de 2020
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Hispanic World

Youth killed by Navy truck, taking Chile protests toll to 12

Santiago de Chile, Oct 21 (efe-epa).- A 22-year-old was killed on Monday by a Navy truck in the southern city of Talcahuano, becoming the 12th person to lose their life in four days of protests in Chile, the Navy confirmed.

Santiago de Chile, Oct 21 (efe-epa).- A 22-year-old was killed on Monday by a Navy truck in the southern city of Talcahuano, becoming the 12th person to lose their life in four days of protests in Chile, the Navy confirmed.

The victim was run over by a military vehicle when soldiers intervened to stop looting by a mob who dispersed after their arrival.

"The incident occurred on Gran Bretaña avenue, in Libertad locality, in the commune of Talcahuano. In the presence of the uniformed personnel, a group of people looting Congelados Pacífico (store) fled the site and one of them was hit by the vehicle," the Navy said in a statement.

The event occurred in the province of Concepcion, in which the city of Talcahuano lies, during curfew which was imposed Tuesday from 6pm to 6am.

The public prosecutor's office in Bio Bio region reported that a marine was arrested over the young man's death and investigations were underway.

In the face of some unofficial versions of the event that suggested the man possibly died from a gun shot wound before being knocked down by the truck, the regional prosecutor's office ruled out the possibility after carrying out an examination of the body.

Santiago and the Metropolitan region, to which the capital belongs, remained under curfew for the third consecutive night, a measure extended to Monday in the Region of Valparaiso, the province of Concepcion (south), and the cities of Antofagasta, La Serena and Coquimbo (north); Rancagua and Talca (center) and Valdivia (south).

Violent groups have radicalized a social protest against a rise in prices of the Santiago metro, leading to violent demonstrations that have already claimed at least a dozen lives and created unrest in the streets in several parts of the country.

Chile's President Sebastian Piñera said the country was waging "a war" against these violent elements and imposed a state of emergency — in full or in part — in 11 of Chile's 16 administrative regions: the Metropolitan Region (where Santiago is located), Tarapaca, Antofagasta, Coquimbo, Valparaiso, Maule, Concepcion, Bio Bio, O'Higgins, Magellan and Los Rios. EFE-EPA

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Chile flashback to Pinochet era with curfew, soldiers in the streets

By Gerard Soler

Santiago, Oct 21 (efe-epa).- Military helicopters flying over Santiago's deserted streets during the curfew and the armed forces guarding local supermarkets are signs of the times these days in Chile that evoke for many Chileans the darkest years of the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

The militarization of Chile to quell the disturbances and looting that have prevailed in several cities since last Friday, and during which about 10 deaths have been reported, is a flashback to times that seemed to have been forgotten in a country that considered itself an oasis of peace within a sometimes tumultuous Latin America.

It was the government's hike in metro fares in Santiago that lit the fuse resulting in the explosion of violence, with protesters committing arson, looting and clashing with police, actions that led the government to put securing public order into the hands of the military in the country's main cities.

The situation got worse with the imposition of an overnight curfew, an unprecedented measure in Chile since the reestablishment of democracy after the military regime.

This restriction left neighborhoods in the capital deserted and in almost complete silence, a calm that was only interrupted by the sound of military and police choppers and the sirens of firetrucks dispatched to deal with assorted emergencies.

In other parts of the capital the environment was very different. Groups of demonstrators peacefully challenged the curfew and others stood guard to protect their homes and businesses from looters.

In some capital neighborhoods, where the disturbances got worse, patrols of Carabineros - Chile's militarized police - and soldiers armed with assault rifles forcefully attacked looters and groups of troublemakers.

The actions of the security forces have been harshly questioned by human rights organizations, which have denounced the unbridled use of force in making arrests, in torturing detainees and mistreating minors.

The National Human Rights Institute (INDH) verified the case of a boy who was shot in the liver and kidney, a girl who was hit by a shotgun pellet in the leg and six people with eye injuries, all of this bodily damage - the INDH said - caused by Carabineros, police and the armed forces.

On the social networks, a number of videos have appeared showing the violence with which security forces are moving against demonstrators.

In one of those videos, two police officers are kicking a person, then give him 10 seconds to make his escape but wind up firing shots after him, although it could not be determined if the man was hit.

In another video, about 15 marines in Valparaiso surround two people and hold them at gunpoint while they kick and beat them.

These are hard images to watch - and very unusual in Chile - but they hark back to the Pinochet era, when soldiers deployed around the country terrorized the populace.

At dawn, with the end of the curfew, Santiago was trying to recover some semblance of normality, although the presence of troops at stations along Line 1 of the metro, the only line in operation, provide evidence that this is not just any other Monday.

After two days of having grocery stores closed in the face of the looting, most people were out and about trying to buy food and basic supplies, or getting gasoline for their vehicles.

This pent up demand for food and fuel resulted in long lines at the few establishments that opened their doors - all the while guarded by police and troops - with people stocking up on everything in sight as if there were no tomorrow.

Anxious Chileans rush to buy food amid fear of looting

By Alberto Peña

Santiago, Oct 21 (efe-epa).- Under tight security, grocery stores briefly opened their doors to shoppers in the Chilean capital Santiago on Monday amid a fear of further looting in a city gripped by protests.

Loaded with bags and shopping carts, residents of the Peñalolén neighborhood in the east of the city rushed to get necessities like diapers, preserves, bread and water.

Dozens of soldiers kept tight security in the premises, which on Sunday was the target of a mob of looters who have been making their way around the capital in three days of protests in the Latin American nation.

The line of people wanting to get inside the building on Monday grew longer and was still present even after soldiers had decided to close the store.

Speaking with Efe after he emerged from the grocery store, a Jumbo outlet, local resident Cristian Praderas, said the atmosphere inside was normal and all kinds of products were on offer.

"They are replenishing everything and it is quiet because there are few people, seeing as they are letting people enter in stages," he said.

"Having seen yesterday how they tried to plunder this Jumbo, I think (the military presence) is good. Hopefully, we continue with this order, and in the whole country and that we return to normal as soon as possible."

The soldiers, who were deployed after midnight on Friday after President Sebastián Piñera declared a state of emergency and have monitored the curfew over the last two days, helped the locals load their groceries quickly.

There were similar scenes across the city and some of the lines outside the stores extended several blocks.

On Friday, rioting caught residents of Santiago by surprise when student-led protests against a rise in metro ticket prices descended into violence.

Piñera's government has already suspended the public transport legislation, but the protests in Santiago and other large cities continued unabated.

The situation on Monday was calmer than on previous days, but the capital was still taking stock of days of violence that left at least 10 dead.

"This was so sudden and nobody expected it so no-one could have thought to have full pantries. It caught us by surprise, so we came, we bought things and protected ourselves. We now have enough for one, two or three weeks," Praderas said. EFE-EPA

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