Demonstrators gathered across Chile on Sunday, October 18, to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of nationwide anti-government protests in 2019, and ahead of the national plebiscite on a new constitution, scheduled for October 25. Tens of thousands of demonstrators reportedly gathered in the capital Santiago (Santiago Metropolitan Region), particularly in and around Plaza Baquedano (also known as Plaza Italia). Amid the unrest in Santiago, the Parroquia de la Asunción church was burned down, and there were reports that other churches in Santiago were also looted and burned, including the San Francisco de Borja Church. Supermarkets and other shops were also looted, including the Santa Isabel shopping center in Santiago.
Elsewhere in Santiago Metropolitan Region, unrest was reported in Puente Alto (Cordillera province), where demonstrators gathered outside a police station on Balmaceda Street and reportedly threw projectiles at the building. In Melipilla, at least two police officers were reportedly injured in protests.
Further associated demonstrations are likely in Chile in the near term. A heightened security presence and localized disruptions are possible in the vicinity of all demonstrations.
The Chilean national plebiscite will address whether a new constitution will be drafted to replace the Pinochet-era constitution in the wake of anti-government protests in 2019. Moreover, it will be decided whether it will be determined by a directly elected constitutional convention or a mixed convention of members of parliament and elected citizens. This new constitution would then be put to another referendum in 2022.
Those in Chile, particularly Santiago, are advised to monitor developments, avoid all demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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