October 14, 2020

Chilean police brace for first anniversary of deadly protests that saw over 30 people dead

Chilean police brace for first anniversary of deadly protests that saw over 30 people dead

Police in Chile are stepping up security ahead of the first anniversary Friday of major protests against the country’s conservative government, which saw over 30 people dead.

Officials plan to bring in some 40,000 police officers Friday to keep the peace, the El Mercurio newspaper reported Tuesday, citing police general Ricardo Yanez.

Chile was rocked by days of violent protests starting last October that paralysed the capital, Santiago.

The demonstrations started over a planned hike in public transport fares.

People who took to the streets daily in October and November last year also demanded better access to health care and education as well as a move away from the neo-liberal economic system. More than 30 people were killed in the protests.

Chilean police had come under fire for their often brutal behaviour. According to the National Institute for Human Rights, 460 demonstrators suffered eye injuries during the protests because the officers apparently fired rubber bullets in faces in a targeted manner.

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Two were blinded and another 35 lost an eye. “We have learned many lessons,” police general Yanez indicated, noting that more than 7,000 officials have been trained in human rights issues and modern police tactics.

Protests have picked up again recently. On October 25, Chileans will vote on whether they want a new constitution – this was one of the key demands of the demonstrators last year.

The current text from 1980 dates from the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

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