Monday, March 24th 2014 - 07:03 UTC

Chilean police cuts short mass protest that turned violent

A mass protest was cut short in Santiago, Chile, after police dispersed activists with tear gas and water cannon. According to protest organizers over 150,000 people had gathered in the city center to urge newly-elected President Michelle Bachelet to push ahead with her reform program.

“This is not a protest against Ms Bachelet or for her, it's just an alert for the political class” (Pic AFP)

 More than 30 different organizations attended the “March of all Marches” in the center of the Chilean capital, calling for the Pinochet-era constitution to be replaced with new legislation that protects the rights of all citizens. Among other things, activists demanded environmental reform, gay marriage, the legalization of abortion, the recognition of the right to self-determination of Chile’s indigenous communities, and the vote for Chileans residing abroad.

For the most part, the march was peaceful, but towards the end protesters clashed with police who responded by deploying tear gas and water cannon. Local police reported that around 100 masked rioters scuffled with police in the center. As a result of the confrontation, 50 protesters were arrested and three police officers were injured.

Following the incident the Chilean authorities canceled the rest of the protest, goading the event’s organizers who criticized the police for their “inability” to control a small group of troublemakers.

The organizers of the march stated that the event was neither for nor against newly-inaugurated President Michelle Bachelet; it was merely to let the government know about the Chilean people’s expectations.

“This is not a protest against Ms Bachelet or for her, it's just an alert for the political class so they know people have demands,” said Oscar Rementeria, a spokesman for gay-rights group Movilh.

Michelle Bachelet, who was previously president of Chile between 2006 and 2010, was elected in December of last year and assumed the presidency on March 12. During her presidential campaign, Bachelet pledged to make significant structural reforms, which include the implementation of a free university education and improved healthcare.

Furthermore, Bachelet has said she will dispense with the political and economic bodies that were founded under the dictatorship of General Pinochet, who governed the country from 1973 to 1990.

Chile’s higher education system marred the presidential term of Bachelet’s predecessor, conservative Sebastian Piñera, who was criticized for not taking sufficient steps to reform the university system. During his term mass protests against high tuition fees became commonplace, with most ending in violence and clashes with police.

23 comments Feed

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1 Condorito (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 11:52 am Report abuse
“This is not a protest against Ms Bachelet or for her, it's just an alert for the political class so they know people have demands”

This is how the loony faction of the coalition pretends to do their negotiations. Keep up the good work Mami - more tear gas and water cannon please.
2 Heisenbergcontext (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 12:11 pm Report abuse
Talk about impatient. How long has she been in the job? Sheesh...
3 CabezaDura2 (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 12:22 pm Report abuse
2

Perhaps militant sectors are trying to establish the agenda on Bachelet.
IMO Often left wing demands get diluted when there is a left wing gov't and its harder to get the same popular support then there would be against say Piñera's conservative gov't.
4 Heisenbergcontext (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 12:35 pm Report abuse
@3

It's an awfully large agenda, and opportunities for disappointment are...considerable. I guess young people want what they want and want it...now. Nothing new about that lol.
5 CabezaDura2 (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 12:43 pm Report abuse
Mind that I'm being influenced by an Argentine political view of things Im not too up to date with what is going on the other side of the Andes lol, but I would believe that Bachelet adding in a lot of these sectors into her own new gov't (at least the most vocal leaders) will prove challenging to keep them in a effective new gov't but it may prove that she can control the streets.
Labels and symbols often matter a lot to the young

Hopefully they dont persue the road of radicalization and “La Camporization” in the Chilean state
6 Condorito (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 12:51 pm Report abuse
@2 HeisenBerg
Technically this is the start of her 5th year in power. These protesters remember that none of their demands were met during her first 4 years, so they are stepping up the tempo this time round.

@3 CD
This has certainly been true in previous governments. I have often made the point that the public was far more forgiving of Bachelet than Piñera. But this time the dynamic might be different. Bachelet will proceed as planned, but the public are going to be more demanding. Despite political bigotry, many who voted for Bachelet will feel the difference. Piñera raised the bar, it's just going to take a while for that to sink in for many.

...

Five tremors near Iquique this morning continuing days of tremors after last week's 6.5M. Is there a big one coming? On the bright side, if Iquique were still in Peru there would have been lots of deaths by now. Even war has it's silver lining.
7 CabezaDura2 (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 01:04 pm Report abuse
6

I hope not.... You seem to have a big earthquake and replicas period whenever a transition process to a new gov't starts.
8 Heisenbergcontext (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 01:17 pm Report abuse
@6 Condorito

I hear you. In that context the impatience makes more sense. As to the 'balaklava brigade' - I have no sympathy.
9 Condorito (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 01:55 pm Report abuse
@ 7 CD
Yes you are right, we do. Piñera was the exception. He managed to deliver 4 years without a major earthquake - that is the kind of administration we need.

Have a look at the US Geological survey:

earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map/

Scroll down the left and you will see that almost all the activity in bold print is near Iquique.

@ 8 Heisenberg
I think we will be seeing a lot of the 'balaklava brigade'.
10 CaptainSilver (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 02:04 pm Report abuse
I was quite surprised at our guides in Chile recently, they were all Pinera supporters, not rich people, and were worried at the tax increases that will have to occur to fund the new Presidents agenda. I got the feeling they wished things could stay as they are.
11 Condorito (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 02:20 pm Report abuse
@CapSilver
Guides are usually hard working, well educated, worldly people, so you shouldn't be too surprised.
12 Sergio Vega (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 02:32 pm Report abuse
That march was orchrestated by the the extreme left wing (wich is part of the new Gvt.'s coalition) to take the leadership of the agenda pressing the “mami” to to act as they want, not in the country´s benefit.....
Is that people representative of the whole society...??? even they were as much as 150.000, each one with a different claim, the silent majority of the society is not represented for this screaming people.....The most of people what is expecting is a quiet and safe life, with works and incomes enough to develop a family wich can reach a better level of life in a democratic scenario, where freedom but not licentiousness be the rule.....so the goal is to earn its own life and not to be gifted for all from Gvt. “for free” but paid by “the others” (the taxpayers).
Pitifully, those screaming people looks like they were the “truth” because they scream louder.....but the truth is into the polls results....
13 CaptainSilver (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 03:00 pm Report abuse
Condorito, I sensed that they were sensible people. We have a similar situation here where the left wing scroungers are always pointing out that most of the cabinet went to Eton, and moaning about rich people without contributing very much at all. Fortunately after two totally incompetent Scottish Prime Ministers who plunged us into unjustifiable expensive politically damaging wars, then completely trashing our economy we now have a government that is steadily tackling scrounging and tax avoidance by the rich. I think it will be a long time before socialism is running Britain again. From what I know Pinochet was a very ruthless criminal version of Thatcher that rescued Chile from the sort of basket case situation like Argentina now, a.d Pinera largely continued his economic policies. Lets hope your new lady steers a centre course.
14 Condorito (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 03:23 pm Report abuse
@CapSilver
Your left wingers probably shouldn't throw those stones. I wouldn't be surprised if historical analysis of UK cabinets showed as many, if not more left wingers came from schools like Eton.

To be fair to our post-Pinochet “socialist” governments they all followed the macro-economic policies laid out in the Pinochet era. Curiously none of them wanted to go anywhere near Allende's breed of economics. Funny that. Communism, one bitten, twice shy.
15 Chicureo (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 07:58 pm Report abuse
Yesterday I was for the first time in ages at the Estadio Monumental to watch Colo-Cola beat O'Higgins 2-0. The real entertainment however was the restless crowds that were on the brink of insurrection. Sort of sums up society here.
Generous caring people that think nothing of throwing Molotov Cocktails because their team lost.
...sigh...
16 Islander1 (#) Mar 24th, 2014 - 10:03 pm Report abuse
With 7 different political factions in her ruling “group”- including a communist- the young lady who led the student riots I believe? - she is in for a pretty tough 4 years. Not as easy a ride as last time.
Throw in cooling of the Chinese economy. lower copper prices and her - to date - theory of cuddling up to CFK economically etc rather than pushing harder with the Pacific trade groups.
Glad I am not a businessman who has just invested large in Chile!
17 the_Truth_shall_B_Trolld (#) Mar 25th, 2014 - 03:14 am Report abuse
@6

Your abased commentary is based on what exactly?

Look what I found, you dumb nationalist:

uk.reuters.com/article/2014/03/16/earthquake-peru-idUKL2N0MC0N020140316?feedType=RSS&feedName=rbssFinancialServicesAndRealEstateNews

(Reuters) - A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck northwestern Peru on Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The quake's epicenter was 26 miles (42 km) south-southwest of Piura and it occurred at a depth of 7.2 miles (12 km), the USGS said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. (Reporting by Paul Simao; Editing

... Typical Chilean talking out of his ass, no facts to back it up.
18 Heisenbergcontext (#) Mar 25th, 2014 - 07:17 am Report abuse
@17

Resentment is a poison Tobias. The gentleman you are addressing is neither dumb nor a nationalist. You know this, I know this and so does everyone else.

If you're going to pick fights you need to pick ones you can win. All of your considerable intelligence is no substitute for self-awareness. You're just setting yourself up for further humiliation and it's painful to observe.
19 Condorito (#) Mar 25th, 2014 - 02:32 pm Report abuse
@18 Heisenberg
Last week I poked a little fun at Toby and he didn't take it well at all. I then tried to defuse the tension with a little humour, but it was no good, his famously fragile ego was already dented and the all too predictable Terminator-Toby was unleashed:

en.mercopress.com/2014/03/21/argentina-s-grain-shipping-blocked-by-vessel-grounded-in-the-parana#comment315329

@17 Toby
My commentary is based on a lot of evidence (and a little well placed national pride).

The earthquake in Peru you refer to was actually on the link I posted, you only need change the time frame from 1 day to 1 week to see it. It was a 6.3 according to the USGS so the one in Iquique (6.7) last week released 4x as much energy.

If you don't believe my assertion, review a list of recent earthquakes. You will see that in Chile there are no fatalities until about 7.0 at which point you will see 1 or 2 deaths (usually heart attacks). You won't see a double digit death toll until the mid 7s. In the 8s the death toll will likely be hundreds.

Unfortunately in Peru an earthquake as low as 6.0 can cause fatalities, by 7.0 there will be double digit deaths and by 8.0 there will be hundreds or thousands of deaths.

I am not picking on Peru here. Small quakes, the kind we get on a monthly basis, cause high death tolls in Europe. This doesn't happen because I am a “dumb nationalist”, it happens because buildings fall down.

After Chile suffered the Valdivia earthquake in 1960, the most powerful earth quake ever recorded, the building code has understandably been of the most strict.

Of course rules can never be totally enforced and in the 2010 earthquake (only the 6th most powerful on record), despite my nationalism, several buildings fell down that shouldn't have. Subsequent investigations found that the Chilean flag had not been flown correctly during the construction, as per the guidelines, hence weakening the patriotic zeal of construction workers.
20 the_Truth_shall_B_Trolld (#) Mar 25th, 2014 - 02:38 pm Report abuse
Blah blah blah, you mucked up. Face it.

6.3, 6.7, Europe codes, assertions... you are just covering face.

@18

Your statement is as vacuous as all the others.

It is amusing to see how everyone here now claims that I lose debates with everyone here. LOL. Funny thing is I don't even consume one calorie in “debates” here. I am not debating any of you here, I am tossing the truth at you!!

None of you are worth serious debate by me. You hate Argentina, you hate Argentines, you find them inferior. Never have I heard ONE positive commentary on the country by anyone here. Everyone and everything within its borders is the worst of humanity, and the worst of development.

What possible debate can there be with a lot like you?
21 Condorito (#) Mar 25th, 2014 - 03:33 pm Report abuse
@ toby
Expend one more calorie to scroll up the thread and you will see that only you are talking about Argentina and only you are using pejorative language.
22 Heisenbergcontext (#) Mar 25th, 2014 - 03:45 pm Report abuse
@19 Condorito

Yes, I read the exchange with much amusement. You mocked a deity - behold the consequences!

@20 Tobias

You're quite right - that was just my subjective opinion. If you truly believe you are the sole repository of the truth who am I to argue? I will take issue with the last part of your post though. I'm not a 'you'. I'm an individual with my own beliefs which I'm willing to defend to the bitter end if necessary.

I don't hate your country - why would I? No Argentine has ever done anything to hurt me, nor has your country ever attacked mine. I do feel contempt for your president though, for her dishonesty, selfishness, greed and vanity. The difference between her and the current president of Chile, for whom I have great respect, is both telling and damning.

I also have problems with many of the things your country has done and continues to do, but I don't think that those things necessarily define a nation. And I certainly don't blame you for it.

The thing is, of all the places in the digital world you are least likely to find positive comments about your country - this is it. So why do you keep returning to such an environment? What are you hoping to achieve?

And I will say make positive comment about your country: it has produced you Tobias, the Truth Telling Troll, one of the most fascinating individuals ( and I have known many ) I have ever encountered.
23 cornelius (#) Mar 25th, 2014 - 07:22 pm Report abuse
As soon as their communist socialist president got in power as i predicted the communist socialist pushing for government hand out o boy they are predictable. Give out the wealth of the state and increase taxes and kill the economy just like the rest of the Bolivarian countries, in hope they repress the populist arising with strong hand from the get go before is out of control.

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