Santiago, Oct 18 (EFE).- The marches commemorating Tuesday’s third anniversary of the start of the uprising that rocked Chile in late 2019 were largely free of incident amid a massive police deployment.
The largest event was in Santiago’s Plaza Italia, where 1.2 million people – more than 5 percent of the Chilean population – gathered on Oct. 25, 2019, at the height of the mobilization.
“Those of us who seek another way of life are going to keep fighting,” a young man who declined to give his name told EFE. “There is no interest on the part of governments in supporting what the people need.”
Protester Isidora Nuñez, 21, pointed to the “many social demands that have still not been met” and described Chileans as “quite discontent.”
“In any case,” she added, “I believe that violence is not the way either, but many times it is the only way they listen to us.”
A small group of hooded militants erected barricades around Plaza Italia and the large police contingent tried to break up the demonstration with tear gas and water cannon.
“We must be demonstrating to be able to change this system. Until now they have come to us with pure lies and we need solutions,” 61-year-old Ivan Vargas said to EFE.
In a televised address early Tuesday, President Gabriel Boric called on Chileans to “come out of the trenches and of our comfort zone to interpret what happened (in 2019) and to act.”
“It was not an anti-capitalist revolution nor a wave of pure violence. It was an expression of pain and of the fractures of our society to which politics was unable to give a response,” the man who became Chile’s youngest-ever head of state when he took office in March said from La Moneda, the presidential palace.
What began on Oct. 18, 2019, as a protest against a small metro fare hike turned into the largest protests Chile had seen since the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Thirty-four people died and thousands more were injured in the response of the security forces to a movement whose chief demand was for a more equitable economic model in a country where the richest 1 percent control more than a quarter of national wealth.
“Many excessive things were done and said,” Boric said of the uprising. “We attacked one another and there are many of us who feel that things reached an extreme they should not have reached.” EFE