– Chileans commemorate the social uprising of 2019
Thousands of Chileans on Monday celebrated the second anniversary of the uprising against social inequality, marked by violence at the end of the day.
Thousands of people gathered in several cities across Chile on Monday to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the uprising against social inequality on a day that ended in violent looting and outbreaks.
Barricades, attacks on a police station and looting of some shops in several cities darkened this day with massive assembly. According to a preliminary government report, at least 30 people were arrested and five police officers injured.
Police estimate that between “8,000 and 10,000 people” investigated Plaza Italia in the capital Santiago, from where the uprising started in October 2019, leaving more than thirty dead. “Things have not changed that much, but people are more awake, more ready to make their voices heard,” Valentina Sagredo, a 22-year-old student, told AFP among thousands of protesters gathered at Plaza in Italy.
In the autumn of 2019, this square, renamed by the protesters to “Place of Dignity”, had for weeks been the epicenter of demonstrations in the capital. “There are still things to ask for (…), that’s why people are demonstrating,” said Pablo, a 22-year-old barber who did not want to be named. Alameda, the capital’s main street, was closed and shops and office buildings barred their doors with metal fences.
Condemnation of violence
The demonstrations continued into the night with bonfires in some streets and on the stairs to Cerro Santa Lucia, one of the promenades in the center of the capital. A police station in Puente Alto, a working-class town south of Santiago, was attacked with stones.
As they passed in front of the presidential palace in La Moneda, 2 km from Plaza Italia, the protesters, mostly young people, shouted slogans against the right-wing government Sebastián Piñera. In Santiago, police on Monday dispersed with tear gas protesters who had set fire to barricades, AFP noted. A shop and a restaurant were looted, according to local media. At least 5,000 police have been mobilized across Chile.
The government condemned the violence caused “by a group of criminals”. “This afternoon, we witnessed a massive demonstration in Plaza Italia, but we also witnessed a series of violent acts,” said Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado of the Presidential Palace in La Moneda. “Nothing justifies this violence and we condemn it. Many more of us want to live in peace, ”he added.
During the 2019 protests, which lasted four months until the start of the pandemic in March 2020, 34 people were killed and more than 460 people suffered eye injuries as a result of police actions. The harsh repression of the demonstrations has led to international accusations of human rights violations against the Piñera government.
The rise in the Santiago metro price had been the trigger for the first student protests on October 18, 2019, but the demands had quickly been extended to the entire Chilean economic model, criticized for favoring an elite and an absent state in social issues such as. education, health and pensions, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
This second anniversary of the “social explosion” coincided with the beginning of the drafting of the new constitution, to replace the current one, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and considered a brake on any social reform background. The president of the Constituent Assembly, elected in November, Elisa Loncon, hailed a “symbolic day, a day in which Chile and its citizens won through unity”.
After several months of implementation, the preparation of the new articles in the future constitution began on Monday, which will be presented to a new referendum in 2022. The anniversary of this social explosion also comes in the middle of the campaign for the parliamentary elections of 21 November. Conservative President Sebastian Piñera, 71, who ruled the country between 2010 and 2014 and then since 2018, cannot run again.
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