Tens of thousands of Chileans gathered in the central square of Santiago to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests that left more than 30 people dead and thousands injured, but the mostly peaceful rally deteriorated into riots and looting after night fell.
People gathered early in the day in demonstrations in cities throughout Chile that gained size and fervour as the evening progressed..
The demonstrations, while largely peaceful early on, were marred by increasing incidents of violence, looting of supermarkets and clashes with police across the capital later in the day. Firetruck sirens, burning barricades on roadways and fireworks on city-centre streets added to a sense of chaos in some areas.
Interior Minister Victor Perez spoke late in the evening, praising the early, peaceful rallies while criticising the late-night mayhem. He called on Chileans to settle their differences by voting in the upcoming October 25 constitutional referendum.
Police estimated that Sunday’s rally in Santiago attracted approximately 25,000 far smaller than the largest protests of 2019.
In the past few days, small-scale demonstrations and isolated incidents of violence have nonetheless resurfaced in Chile, as the capital’s six million citizens emerge from months of confinement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.