Protests erupted overnight (local time) in Santiago between Wednesday, January 29, and Thursday, January 30, after a protester was hit and killed by a police van on Tuesday, January 28. Protesters reportedly attacked over 20 police stations, lighting some on fire with Molotov cocktails and leaving at least 46 police wounded. A second protester died early on Thursday after being hit by a hijacked bus amid protests on Wednesday night. Several bus lines and metro stations in Santiago were shut down overnight between Wednesday and Thursday due to protests, but most have reportedly reopened as of Thursday morning. Additional protests were also reported in Valparaiso and Concepción.
Further protests are likely in Santiago on Friday, January 31, with possible meeting points at Plaza de la Dignidad and Plaza de la Aviacion. In Valparaiso, protesters are set to gather at Plaza Sotomayor at 20:00 on Friday. On Saturday, February 1, a demonstration is set to take place at 20:00 in Valparaiso's Plaza O'Higgins. Related gatherings are possible in other urban centers across Chile.
A heightened security presence, as well as transportation and business disruptions are expected near all demonstrations. Clashes between demonstrators and police officers cannot be ruled out.
Demonstrations broke out in October 2019 after the Chilean government announced an increase in metro and bus fares. The mass protests escalated in Santiago and other cities over the following days to denounce high costs of living, rising electricity prices, the privatization of water, and other social issues. President Sebastián Piñera announced on November 17 that the government will allow citizens to vote on a new constitution and that he is willing to consider raising pensions by more than 20 percent. An agreement reached by politicians on November 15 will organize a referendum in April 2020, where Chileans will vote whether to replace the current charter of rights (magna carta) from Pinochet's dictatorship and a new legislative assembly.
Individuals in Chile, particularly in Santiago and Valparaiso, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
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