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  HOME | Chile

Protesters, Cops Clash after Chilean Leaderís Address to Congress

SANTIAGO Ė Several thousand people gathered near the Chilean Congress in Valparaiso as President Michelle Bachelet delivered her state of the union speech, a demonstration that ended with clashes between protesters and police.

The demonstration, called by student and labor organizations, began peacefully but ended with violence as dozens of masked individuals looted stores and committed vandalism along the streets of the coastal city 125 km (78 mi.) from Santiago.

Police Gen. Julio Pineda said that 37 people were arrested for participating in the disturbances, which left about 20 people injured, one of whom is in serious condition, according to medical personnel at the Carlos Van Buren Hospital in Valparaiso.

The seriously injured man somehow suffered a significant head injury when he fell down, sources said, although further details were unavailable.

Riot police used water-cannon and tear gas to suppress the protesters, who erected barricades and tried to break through the security perimeter established in the vicinity of Congress.

More than 1,000 police were deployed to guarantee security at and near Congress to try and minimize anticipated protest violence, which has become a rather regular occurrence each May 21.

One of the sites of the disturbances was Victoria Square, where last week two young students were shot to death after a demonstration.

 

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