State of Emergency Announced in Chile. Troops on streets of Chilean capital Santiago

A man walks in front of two buses burned after a protest against the increase in subway ticket prices in Santiago, Chile, October 19, 2019 REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Troops were patrolling the streets of the Chilean capital Santiago on Saturday morning, the military confirmed, after President Sebastian Pinera evoked a state of emergency amid a surge in violent protests over a hike in public transport fares.

Javier Iturriaga del Campo, the general designated in charge by Pinera, told a news conference at Santiago’s Moneda presidential palace in the early hours of Saturday that his troops would focus their patrols on “the most conflict-hit areas” but would impose no curfew “for now.”

“The recommendation for people is that they can go home to be with their families and be calm,” he said.

“We are assuming control, deploying our forces in a way that we can prevent continuing acts of vandalism and having a better sense in the morning of what is happening.”

The announcement by a grim-faced Pinera shortly after midnight came after 12 hours of intense unrest in the city center, where protesters clashed with police who used tear gas and water cannons, according to the interior ministry, witnesses and television footage.

Metro stations, buses and the high-rise headquarters of electric utility Enel <ENELCHILE.SN> were set on fire, firefighters and public transport authorities said.

Police told Reuters that on Friday alone, 156 police officers had been injured, including five seriously. Forty-nine police cars were damaged, 41 metro stations vandalized and 308 people were detained.

Sporting and cultural events have been canceled for the weekend, the metro network remains closed and foreign embassies have updated their security advisories for expatriates and visitors, urging them to avoid crowds and carry identification.

In just over three weeks, Chile is due to host U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping along with many others for a regional summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Weeks later it will host other world leaders for the COP25 United Nations climate change summit.

The decision to deploy the military was met with widespread shock in a nation that lived under a military dictatorship for 17 years until 1990.

Political commentators and opposition parties have lambasted the response by Pinera’s government to the protests, which started on Oct. 7 and have grown in intensity amid widespread discontent over the high cost of basic goods and utilities.

Some said he provoked an explosive confrontation by rolling out riot police frequently accused of heavy-handedness instead of seeking dialogue with the protesters.

Lucia Dammert, an expert in public security at the University of Santiago, wrote on Twitter that when there were tanks on the streets “we have all lost.”

“The state of emergency is a measure of last resort, the government had many other tools available to it to calm things down,” she said.

What do you think?

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Tom Bodine
Member

Send Bernie down to handle the problem

Phyllis Softa
Member

Leonardo Zangani—you appear to not realize the Reagan-Bush administration supported the coup that put Pinochet in charge.

Friend
Member

Governments that enact measures to combat a fictitious enemy, eventually face severe repercussions from the population it governs, once the facts start being revealed. Global Warming is a complete hoax, a world wide money grab, a con job perpetrated on the whole of the planet. Any government that follows along with this scam, deserves all the backlash it gets from normal people, who are the main target of this global socialist wealth redistribution scheme.

Mindy
Member

This gives us thumbnail view of what will happen if world gov’s proceed with climate change policies, which leave all except the elites in poverty, deep poverty. We saw this happen in the UK already, gax tax was increased which prompted protests.

Screwtape
Member

Hmm. Carbon footprints aside, how stupid is it to protest rising transportation costs by destroying that transportation? Either they’ll do without or have to replace that which will *gasp* raise costs..

I suspect there is a strong causal relationship between being poor and being plain dumb. This is proof.

Mark Schlesinger
Member

I wonder how much carbon was produced by burning those busses. Maybe we’ll find out at the “climate change”confab. Anyway, that’s what you get when government controls prices.

WP Taylor
Member

General Pinochet failed to drive out all the communists after his coup against President Salvadore Allende. Now, 46 years later, they are again trying to foment revolution.
Historical note: When the retired chief archivist for the KGB relocated to the UK following his retirement, he brought with him copies of many KGB records. Among them were Salvadore Allende’s pay records. That’s correct, he was paid by the KGB.

Charles Leveque
Guest
Charles Leveque

Protests are fine, coupled with open discussions is better. Destructive protesting is not the answer. When violence and destruction happen first, what do they expect from the government? Likewise, if the government doesn’t listen to their people, and laws become a burden, what do they expect? Seems to me there should be an acceptable middle ground! Violence begets violence, constructive dialogue begets construction dialogue.

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