Amid emergency and new curfews in several parts of the country, thousands of protesters on Tuesday took to the streets for the 15th consecutive day to protests against the government in Chile that left 15 people dead.
Riot police used tear gas and streams of water to break up marches by rock-throwing demonstrators in several streets of Santiago while military and police guarded other Chileans who formed long lines at supermarkets.
Many stores, subway stations and banks were burned, damaged or looted over the weekend, and some people have reported problems getting cash at ATMs.
Marta Lagos, director of the polling firm Latinobarometro said, “The students jumped the turnstiles, and as it happens in revolutions, the elements that trigger a social phenomenon are not very rational”.
“It’s not just this government” that’s to blame for the frustrations, she said. “This has been accumulating in the last four governments”, Lagos added.
Earlier on Tuesday, thousands of protesters — many banging pots and pans in the traditional Latin American manner — gathered peacefully in the main Plaza Italia square in the capital on Monday, chanting “Pinera Out!” and “Get out military!”
In the southern city of Concepcion, a huge march made its way through the streets of the Biobio regional capital, which along with Valparaiso and Santiago has been the main focus of the disturbances, fires and looting, as a result of which the government declared a state of emergency and a nighttime curfew.
On Friday, a total of 41 subway stations were damaged and at least 308 people were arrested during protests against an increase in metro faces in Santiago.
The violent protests prompted the government to declare a state of emergency and the deployment of soldiers in the provinces of Santiago and Chacabuco, as well as in the Metropolitan municipalities of Puente Alto and San Bernardo.
Earlier on Friday, President Sebastián Piñera declared a state of emergency in Santiago and gave the military responsibility for security after a day of violent protests over increases in the price of metro tickets.
Clashes broke out between the protesters and the police in several parts of the city throughout the day and the subway was shut after attacks on several stations.
The government’s hike in Santiago Metro fares unleashed a wave of protests that over the past two weeks have awakened the ire of the public at the high costs for public services, the inadequate pension system and deficiencies in the public health system, all of this combining into a social outburst that has been unprecedented in Chile’s recent history.
The government has responded by declaring a state of emergency in almost all portions of the country, placing security into the hands of the army and implementing curfews.
Although Chile has the highest per capita income of Latin America at $20,000, there is widespread frustration at privatized health care and education, rising costs of basic services and falling pensions.