Chile's Pinera extends state of emergency, says 'we are at war'

Wednesday, 23 Oct, 2019

"But nobody, nobody, has a right to behave with the brutal illegal violence of those who have destroyed, set fire to or damaged more than 78 stations of the metro of Santiago", he said. On Saturday regardless of a highly sensitive situation pronounced to suppress the most exceedingly very bad riots in years in one of Latin America's most steady nations.

But, several big demonstrations lasted beyond the mandated curfew hour, witnesses and Chilean press reported.

In a bid to defuse the crisis, Pinera hastily reversed the contentious transport fare hike, but it was not enough, as wider public discontent over the government's economic policies and growing social inequality seemingly reached its tipping point.

The conservative president suspended the rise in the Santiago metro fare on Saturday, saying he had listened "with humility" to "the voice of my compatriots".

In parts of Santiago, hundreds of troops were deployed in the streets for the first time since 1990, when Chile returned to democracy after the dictatorship of August Pinochet.

Police repressed protesters with tear gas, while protesters had set up barricades and looted businesses.

The city woke Saturday morning to calm, amid what the regional governor of Santiago described as "a level of destruction never seen before". Anger has also been directed at the Carabineros national police force, whose heavy-handed repression of protests has come under the spotlight. Enel said all workers had been safely evacuated. Multinational firms began shuttering offices, and major supermarket chains and shopping malls closed early.

Pinera said Santiago´s metro and bus system would operate a partial service on Monday, along with hospitals and some schools and crèches, and appealed for Chileans to band together and help their neighbors to get on with their lives and remain safe.

Mr Chadwick said military and police numbers were at 10,500 in Santiago and would be reinforced where necessary. At least three more died in supermarkets set on fire. Over the weekend, protests grew to another 20 cities where states of emergency were declared.

Nearly all public transport was paralyzed in Santiago on Sunday, with shops shuttered and many flights cancelled at the worldwide airport, leaving thousands of people stranded due to a curfew imposed from 7:00 pm until dawn.

The violence comes just a month before some of the world's most influential leaders, including US President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping, are due in Santiago to discuss trade at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Sixty Walmart-owned outlets were vandalised, and the company said many stores did not open during the day.