An increase in transport fares had initially led students to burst into subway stations and jump over entrance barriers without paying,… but now, protests have turned violent,… shaking this usually peaceful country in a way that hasn't been seen in years.
The subway system was shut down entirely and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera ( ) declared a state of emergency early on Saturday morning.
The demonstrations first began on October 7th over recent hikes in subway fares.
But even after the president announced that the increase of fares would be canceled,… demonstrators, especially the poor, continued their protests, venting their discontent over inequality and the high cost of living.
The government responded with tear gas and water cannons, and soldiers and armored vehicles were deployed across the capital.
At least 8 people have died in the unrest,… and some 80 police officers and civilians were injured in the latest disturbances.
The violence is something that hasn't been seen in the capital even during the protests that happened during the final days of General Pinochet's dictatorship in 1990.
"I'm sad to see all this, I say that from my heart. I'm really sad, because the bad things from this are going out to the world. That's what pains me most. I don't know what else to say."
"You know, it would have been nice if everyone had come out and banged on pots and protested other ways, but this? Not even during the time that we had the conflict with Pinochet did we touch the metro. Because we knew the metro was for us."
Chaos in the country has affected many everyday aspects of life.
Sporting and cultural events were canceled for the weekend,… and schools were shut on Monday and Tuesday.
Flights were delayed or canceled at Santiago's international airport, and hundreds of passengers spent the night sleeping on the floor.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning for Chile on Monday, as protests are escalating into nationwide riots.
Won Jung-hwan Arirang News.