Major clashes and sporadic looting was reported during the two-day strike declared by the Central Union of Workers (CUT). The protesters demand constitutional changes, immediate reduction of taxation and free public education. This was the first 48-hour national strike in Chile’s history while the student struggles keep on for more than three months. These are the largest mobilisations in the country after the end of the dictatorship in 1990.
During these clashes Manuel Gutiérrez Reinoso, a 16-year-old old boy was shot in the chest by a police officer, near a “security barricade”. A police spokesman said “The youth died from a bullet impact in the chest. He died in hospital.” Reinoso’s brother, who was with him at the time of the shooting, described that a cop shot three times through the window of a police vehicle.
About 80 unions of transport and health services participated in the strike, along with political parties, students, trade unionists and various anarchist organizations. The strikers blocked the key crossroads of the city of Santiago while in the suburban neighbourhoods public transport were targeted by the demonstrators who threw stones blocking the actions of finks. Police used chemical gases and water canons to disperse them. At least 270 buses were damaged.
A big march was held on Wednesday, with thousands of citizens, teachers and students blocking the eight lanes on Alameda Avenue in Santiago, which is located very close to the parliament. Many wore masks depicting the former president of Chile Salvador Allende, who committed suicide at the parliament on September 11, 1973, while Augusto Pinochet’s forces were attempting a coup d’etat. Similar protests took place in other cities like Valparaiso and Concepcion.
Tuesday night in poor neighbourhoods of the city protesters clashed with police while at the same day the police raided squats. According to Contra Info:
On Tuesday afternoon, August 23rd, heavy police forces raided TIAO squat (Independent Arts and Crafts Workshop) located at Yungay Street in Valparaiso. TIAO squat has been a hub for autonomous and self-organized projects for the last five years.
Cops fully armed broke the metal doors and the windows and invaded the building causing extensive damages, also to part of the squat’s infrastructure. During the attack, the executioners of the Chilean State handcuffed the comrades who were inside the squat at gunpoint while the crime lab unit was screening the space. In the meantime, strong police forces with water cannons and armoured tear gas vehicles were outside, while patrol and traffic police forces had sealed the surrounding streets making it impossible for people to approach in solidarity.
The police operation lasted for over an hour; the cops invaded without presence of a prosecutor, and the address written on the investigation order didn’t correspond to the actual one. […] On the same day another cultural squat was also raided in the university district of Santiago. As in the case of TIAO squat, the police went in search of materials used for Molotov cocktails, but in both cases did not find anything related.
Since Wednesday 1.394 people have been detained while dozens are badly injured in the clashes. A 18-year-old boy Mario Pinto Parraguez, who was shot by a police officer in the eye, is still in critical condition. The government announced that “there is going to be an ongoing investigation.”
Many polls show the popularity of right-wing government of Sebastian Pinera at very low levels, and many speculate that this is the least popular president since the end of the Chilean dictatorship in 1990.
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