Mon 21 Oct 2019 on https://www.theguardian.com
Several dead as protesters loot supermarkets day after Piñera suspends subway fare rise
Protests and violence continued in Chile overnight despite the president cancelling a rise in subway fares that prompted violent demonstrations.
Officials in the Santiago region said three people had died in fires at two looted supermarkets early on Sunday. Sixty Walmart-owned outlets were vandalised, and the company said many stores did not open during the day. Five more people were later found dead in the basement of a burned warehouse and were not employees, authorities said.
At least two airlines cancelled or rescheduled flights into the capital, affecting more than 1,400 passengers Sunday and Monday.
“We are at war with a powerful, relentless enemy that respects nothing or anyone and is willing to use violence and crime without any limits,” the president, Sebastián Piñera, said on Sunday in an unscheduled speech from the military headquarters.
Piñera, a billionaire conservative who served as president between 2010 and 2014 before taking office again in March 2018, is facing the worst crisis of his second term.
On Saturday night, he announced he was cancelling a subway fare rise imposed two weeks ago. The fare increase led to major protests that included rioting that caused millions of dollars in damage to buses, subway stops, office buildings and stores.Advertisement
After meeting the heads of the legislature and judicial system earlier on Sunday, Piñera said they discussed solutions to the crisis and that he aimed “to reduce excessive inequalities, inequities abuses, that persist in our society”.
Jaime Quintana, the president of the senate, said “the political world must take responsibility for how we have come to this situation”.
Authorities said 10,500 soldiers and police officers were patrolling the streets in Santiago as state of emergency and curfew remained in effect for six Chilean cities, but protests continued during the day on Sunday. Security forces used teargas and jets of water to try disperse crowds.
The interior minister, Andrés Chadwick, reported that 62 police officers and 11 civilians were injured in the latest disturbances and prosecutors said nearly 1,500 people had been arrested. He said late on Sunday there had been more than 70 “serious events” during the day, including more than 40 looting incidents.
With transportation frozen, Cynthia Cordero said she had walked 20 blocks to reach a pharmacy to buy nappies, only to find it had been burned down. “They don’t have the right to do this,” she said, adding it was right to protest “against the abuses, the increases in fares, against bad education and an undignified pension, but not to destroy”.
Long queues formed at petrol stations as people tried to fill up for a coming workweek with a public transport system disrupted by the destructive protests. Santiago’s subway, which carries an average of 2.4 million passengers on a weekday, had been shut down since Friday.
The Subway system chief, Louis de Grange, said workers would try to have at least one line running on Monday, but he said it could take weeks or months to have the four others back in service. He said 85 stations and more than three-quarters of the system had been severely damaged.