CHILEAN rallies descend into violence as ‘masked vandals’ riot in Santiago.
Tens of thousands of Chileans gathered in the central square of Santiago to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests that left over 30 dead and thousands injured, with peaceful rallies on Sunday deteriorating by nightfall into riots and looting.
Police estimated that Sunday’s rally in Santiago attracted approximately 25,000 people by 6pm.
The demonstrations, which were mainly peaceful throughout the day, devolved into violence as the night wore on, with ‘masked vandals’ looting supermarkets, firebombing police headquarters and setting churches alight.
The rallies were held ahead of next Sunday’s referendum about whether to scrap the country’s dictatorship-era Constitution.
Interior Minister Victor Perez spoke late in the evening, praising the early, peaceful rallies while criticising the late-night mayhem.
“Those who carry out these acts of violence do not want Chileans to solve our problems through democratic means,” Perez told reporters, promising to punish those who crossed the line on Sunday.
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