MercoPress, en Español

Montevideo, May 20th 2022 - 07:53 UTC



Chilean army sent to contain hungry mobs in poor neighborhoods of Santiago

Wednesday, May 20th 2020 - 08:54 UTC
Full article 9 comments
Overnight Monday rioters looted gas stations, while downtown a mob set a bus ablaze. Residents middle-class neighborhoods banged pots and pans in protest. Overnight Monday rioters looted gas stations, while downtown a mob set a bus ablaze. Residents middle-class neighborhoods banged pots and pans in protest.

Coronavirus cases soared in Chile on Tuesday as soldiers were deployed to back up riot police in Santiago following clashes with demonstrators angry about food shortages and job losses.

Soldiers in armored vehicles and wielding automatic weapons were deployed to the working class neighborhood of El Bosque, where on Monday residents armed with clubs and stones clashed with riot police.

Overnight Monday to Tuesday rioters looted a neighborhood gas station, while downtown a mob set a bus ablaze. Residents in both poor and middle-class neighborhoods banged pots and pans in protest.

The military deployment came as Chile recorded 3,520 new coronavirus cases, its biggest daily increase, for a total of almost 50,000 infections.

Chile with a population of some 18 million people, also reported its largest number of single-day deaths with 31, bringing the total to more than 500. The pandemic is focused on Santiago, and with 90% of the intensive care hospital beds taken in the capital authorities are shipping patients to other cities.

“We're in a complicated moment, very difficult, with a lot of worried citizens,” said Health Minister Jaime Manalich. “People don't have work, they don't have money and they don't have food,” said Monica Sepulveda, a 46-year-old unemployed security guard from El Bosque. She complained that promised government help hadn't arrived.

Santiago began a total lockdown on Friday as Chile strives to contain its coronavirus outbreak. “We're seeing what we call a social pandemic,” said Manalich.

“It produces job losses, a lack of resources and the worst, it produces hunger.” He said President Sebastian Piñera was taking measures to tackle the lack of food. “The health and social crisis we're going through has no precedent in Chile,” Manalich said.

Claudia Pizarro, the mayor of the Santiago suburb of La Pintana, criticized Piñera for making “spectacular announcements” but failing to deliver on aid. In April Piñera announced a family allowance worth US$ 317 for 4.5 million of the most vulnerable Chileans, but that has yet to be put into action. This week he also promised the distribution of 2,5 million food baskets.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • Pugol-H

    This virus, once you catch it, will certainly kill Malvinistas the same as Falklandistas and Peronistas the same as normal people, this much is true.

    The difference is largely how likely you are to catch it where you are. This will depend on how successful the local authorities have been in containing it, whatever their political colour.

    Every response will need to consider local conditions and judgements will have to be made.

    In the end it is the effectiveness of measures taken that is important, not the ideology of the local government taking them.

    Chicureo is correct however, a severe enough recession/depression WILL cause more harm than the virus in any country.

    Again a judgement is going to have to be made as to when that point is approaching, which will be different for every country according to its individual situation.

    Frankly I don’t envy the politicians who are now having to make such life and death decisions, whilst oppositions can criticise everything and be responsible for nothing.

    Results will be how governments are judged about this in the end, not what their ideology was.

    May 27th, 2020 - 11:22 am +1
  • DemonTree

    Did it not occur to them to send the food baskets, and the family allowances, instead of riot police and army?

    May 20th, 2020 - 10:26 am 0
  • Guillote

    each country has its reality
    What do you think about of boris and his handling of the pandemic?

    May 21st, 2020 - 02:35 am 0
Read all comments

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!