Thousands of protesters gathered in Plaza Itália, in downtown Santiago, this Sunday (18th), for a demonstration that ended in confrontation and vandalism. The act was organized to commemorate the first anniversary of the start of protests in Chile to demand greater social equality.
After a peaceful start in the morning, there were acts of violence in the afternoon, including a confrontation between fans of Colo Colo and Universidad de Chile, and then between hooded protesters and police. Initial reports from the local media spoke of 5 people arrested and 5 police officers injured.
Armored police vehicles were set on fire in a clash this Sunday (18) in Santiago – Photo: Esteban Felt / AP
The Church of the Assumption, close to Praça Itália, was completely set on fire after being attacked by hooded men. The small church was the second temple to be attacked during this day of protests in Santiago. When the dome caught fire after the structure collapsed, several protesters cheered.
The structure was attacked after several hours of peaceful demonstration around the square in the Chilean capital. When the church caught fire, firefighters and rescue workers made a barrier to prevent the collapse of the structure from reaching people.
“Drop it, drop it,” shouted some hooded men, who celebrated the subsequent fall of the church’s dome, also known as the “artists’ parish,” according to the Chilean press.
Before, right next to the fire, another temple was looted and burned, but firefighters managed to extinguish the flames before they caused further damage.
Firefighters try to contain the fire in La Asunción Church, set on fire by hooded vandals during a protest in Santiago, Chile – Photo: Esteban Felix / AP
There was great expectation in the country as to how this celebration would end, as it was scheduled for a week before the vote on the historic constitutional plebiscite. The vast majority of the population defended a peaceful demonstration and without excesses, according to several surveys.
Several social groups called for a peaceful demonstration to commemorate the first year of what Chile called “Social Outbreak”.
From an early age, groups of protesters arrived at central Praça Itália, the epicenter of demonstrations throughout the year, while waving flags, jumping and shouting slogans in favor of social mobilization for the realization of profound social reforms.
Police officers detain a protester during a clash in Santiago on Sunday (18) – Photo: Ivan Alvarado / Reuters
The square woke up surrounded by carabineros (Chilean militarized police) and armored cars.
The government of President Sebastián Piñera – strongly criticized since the beginning of the protests, the most important in 30 years of democracy – called for a peaceful demonstration and in respect of the protection measures imposed because of the pandemic of Covid-19, which in Chile registers almost 490,003 cases and has 13,588 confirmed deaths.
Several sectors feared that the images of October 18, 2019 would be repeated, when after a protest that suggested the non-payment of subway tickets – carried out by high school students – the day ended in a night of chaos, with a dozen stations on fire. , attacked buildings, shoplifting and violent clashes with the police.
Clash between protesters and police lasted until night in Santiago, Chile – Photo: Esteban Felix / AP
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