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Curfew imposed in Santiago amid metro protests

Chiara Palazzo and Juan Garff, DPA on

Published in News & Features

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Chile's National Defense Chief Javier Iturriaga ordered an overnight curfew in the capital Santiago as "violent acts" continued to be registered late on Saturday.

The curfew, the first in Chile since the restoration of democracy in 1990, will be in place in two provinces and two communes of the Santiago Metropolitan Region from 10 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday (0100-1000 GMT Sunday), Iturriaga said in a televised statement.

The defense chief said that the situation would be reevaluated on Sunday.

The National Defense force said in a statement that a "large military contingent" also had to be deployed as "acts of violence" continued "in the last hours."

Iturriaga's statement came minutes after President Sebastian Pinera announced that the defense chief was in charge of the state of emergency declared late on Friday.

In a televised address Pinera also said that the Chilean government would suspend the metro fare hikes implemented earlier in the week that triggered protests in Santiago, home to more than 7 million people.

"We are going to suspend the metro fare hikes," Pinera said, adding that an urgent law will be required on the matter and that talks will be held to overcome this "difficult situation."

"The priority of our government is to ensure public order and the safety of Chileans," Pinera said, as he acknowledged that demonstrators had "good reasons" to protest.

"But nobody, nobody, has a right to behave with the brutal illegal violence of those who have destroyed, set fire to or damaged more than 78 stations of the Metro of Santiago," the president added.


The Metro of Santiago on Friday evening announced that the whole 140-kilometer (8- mile) network would be shut at least until Monday to assess the "severe damage" to the service.

A video posted by the Interior Ministry late on Friday showed damaged escalators and flames inside Cumming station in central Santiago. Chants and banging can be heard in the background.

Protesters have been demonstrating for almost a week against the hike in public transport fares, daily La Tercera reported. Prices had been raised from 800 to 830 pesos, the equivalent of about 4 U.S. cents.

A large number of policemen were deployed to metro stations on Friday, the newspaper reported, as mass fare-dodging turned into violent protests.

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