At least two people have died and no less than 450 others were arrested Monday in Santiago and other parts of Chile as demonstrators took to the streets to commemorate the second anniversary of the popular uprisings which led to a series of changes, including a Constitutional reform which is currently being drafted.
Protesters clashed with police in the streets of the Chilean capital, who used water cannons and tear gas to disperse them. The activists were demanding the release of those detained during the 2019 revolt and also denounced impunity when it came down to police repression.
Monday's event took place little over a month ahead of the upcoming Nov. 21 presidential elections.
The administration of President Sebastián Piñera condemned the incidents, which included looting at small businesses in addition to attacks against a police station and a government office, besides damage to traffic lights and public transport stops.
One of the deaths occurred during during the looting of a Santiago business in the Peñalolén commune, while the second case was a 23-year-old woman, who was riding a motorcycle and ran into a steel cable in the southern part of Santiago.
Carabineros General Marcelo Araya also told the media Tuesday that 11 civilians and 45 law enforcement officers had been injured and 450 arrests had been made, 279 of them in Santiago. Of those arrested, 244 were for looting, 94 for disorder, 16 for barricades and 14 for mistreatment of police.
General Araya mentioned 486 incidents involving 2,500 police vehicles and other resources, including aircraft, and around 20,000 officers.
Undersecretary of the Interior Juan Francisco Galli said this level of violence is not tolerable in a democratic society. He added that it was all about “criminals who only want to take advantage of this instance and that was reflected in the looting and damage.”
Leftwing presidential candidate Gabriel Boric pointed out violence and destruction of common [items] is not and will not be our path, which only serves those who want everything to remain the same.”
“It is in unity and respecting each other that we will be able to build a worthy and fair Chile for all,” he added.
Yasna Provoste of Chile's center-left said that as all of Chile knows, I support the legitimate right to social demonstration, but with the same decision I reject all forms of political violence and with more force I condemn any act of looting, destruction and common crime, which have nothing to do with legitimate mobilization and blamed Piñera's government for failing to maitain order and tell protesters from criminals, who “must be promptly prosecuted and punished.”
Sebastián Sichel of Piñera's ruling party claimed violence will never be the way, nor will complicit silence, nor even pardons for those who destroy what belongs to everyone. There are many more of us who want to live and work in peace.
Republican Party candidate José Antonio Kast said today is not a day of celebration, it is a day of condemnation.
Chile does not want more violence. Two years after the criminal outbreak, we dare to say enough to the violent ones who instill terror” and claim they want to live in peace, Kast added.