Chileans angry over social and economic issues clashed with security forces for a second day Saturday despite a state of emergency declared to quell the worst violence in years in one of Latin America’s most stable countries. Authorities announced a curfew in Santiago starting at 0100 GMT Sunday, after protesters set buses on fire, burned metro stations and clashed with riot police in the city of seven million.
“Having analyzed the situation and the appalling actions that occurred today, I have made the decision to suspend freedoms and movement through a total curfew,” said Army General Javier Iturriaga, who is overseeing security during the state of emergency.
Chile's president declared a state of emergency in Santiago on Friday night and gave the military responsibility for security after a day of violent protests over an increase in the price of metro tickets. Throughout Friday, protestors clashed with riot police in several parts of the capital and the subway system was shut after attacks on stations in some of the worst violence the city has seen in years. At least 16 buses were torched and a dozen metro stations totally destroyed.
Around midnight President Sebastian Pinera declared a state of emergency and appointed Major General Javier Iturriaga del Campo as head of national defense.
"The objective of this state of emergency is very simple but very profound: to ensure public order and peace for the inhabitants of Santiago," Pinera said in a statement.
The state of emergency is initially for 15 days and restricts freedom of movement and assembly. Due to the emergency, the National Football Association has suspended matches this weekend.
General Iturriaga said the military would patrol major trouble spots in the city of seven million but would not impose a curfew at present.
"We are not going to restrict any personal freedom for now," he said. Violent clashes escalated as night fell and the headquarters of the ENEL Chile power company and a Banco Chile branch, both in the city center, were set on fire and several metro stations hit with Molotov cocktails. The ENEL tower blaze was put out with no one injured, firefighters said.