SANTIAGO – Under tight security, grocery stores briefly opened their doors to shoppers in the Chilean capital Santiago on Monday amid a fear of further looting in a city gripped by protests.
Loaded with bags and shopping carts, residents of the Peñalolen neighborhood in the east of the city rushed to get necessities like diapers, preserves, bread and water.
Dozens of soldiers kept tight security in the premises, which on Sunday was the target of a mob of looters who have been making their way around the capital in three days of protests in the Latin American nation.
The line of people wanting to get inside the building on Monday grew longer and was still present even after soldiers had decided to close the store.
Speaking with Efe after he emerged from the grocery store, a Jumbo outlet, local resident Cristian Praderas, said the atmosphere inside was normal and all kinds of products were on offer.
“They are replenishing everything and it is quiet because there are few people, seeing as they are letting people enter in stages,” he said.
“Having seen yesterday how they tried to plunder this Jumbo, I think (the military presence) is good. Hopefully, we continue with this order, and in the whole country and that we return to normal as soon as possible.”
The soldiers, who were deployed after midnight on Friday after President Sebastian Piñera declared a state of emergency and have monitored the curfew over the last two days, helped the locals load their groceries quickly.
There were similar scenes across the city and some of the lines outside the stores extended several blocks.
On Friday, rioting caught residents of Santiago by surprise when student-led protests against a rise in metro ticket prices descended into violence.
Piñera’s government has already suspended the public transport legislation, but the protests in Santiago and other large cities continued unabated.
The situation on Monday was calmer than on previous days, but the capital was still taking stock of days of violence that left at least 10 dead.
“This was so sudden and nobody expected it so no-one could have thought to have full pantries. It caught us by surprise, so we came, we bought things and protected ourselves. We now have enough for one, two or three weeks,” Praderas said.