Govt announces curfew amid protests in Chilean capital

Santiago: The Chilean government under a state of emergency on Saturday (local time) announced a curfew in the capital city after a chaotic two days of violent protests over public transport fare hikes.

The demonstrations, held by high school students, prompted president Sebastian Pinera to announce that he would reverse public transport fare hikes, The New York Times reported.

The protests had spread to other cities across the country as well. In the capital, at least five subway stations and buses were set ablaze, while violent demonstrators looted supermarkets and pharmacies. Several groups have also called for a national strike on Monday.

Saturday’s protests came despite Pinera issuing the fare-hike suspension on late Saturday and indicated that the army general in charge of security in Santiago might soon issue a curfew.

This is the first time since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990 that the government has declared a state of emergency for public disorders in the capital.

Pinera’s decision to declare a state of emergency followed a wave of violent protests in Ecuador this month, which led its president, Lenin Moreno, to temporarily flee the capital.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Peru, President Martin Vizcarra dissolved Congress in late September in a dramatic escalation over a political fight set off by a corruption inquiry.

The protests come as the Latin American country prepares to host two major international conferences: an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting next month and the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December this year.