Demonstrations began following a proposed subway fare increase, and have widened to include concerns about income inequality and the high cost of living.

Por Eliza Thompson
Octubre 21, 2019
Protesters in Santiago, Chile on Sunday.

Following a weekend of protests in Santiago, Chile and elsewhere in the country, at least 11 people are dead and President Sebastián Piñera has declared a state of emergency in the capital and five other cities. It was the first time since 1990, when the country returned to democracy after a 17-year military dictatorship, that the government had declared a state of emergency due to public unrest.

The protests began over a subway fare hike proposed by Piñera two weeks ago, but have grown to encompass income inequality and costs of living. Piñera canceled the fare hike on Saturday night, but demonstrations continued into Sunday and widespread disruption was expected on Monday. After three people died on Saturday, the Associated Press reported that three more were killed in fires at looted supermarkets and five were found in a burned warehouse. Andrés Chadwick, the interior minister, also said 62 police officers and 11 civilians were injured in the latest round of demonstrations.

Soldiers stand guard as workers protest in Valparaíso on Monday.

“We are at war with a powerful, relentless enemy that respects nothing or anyone and is willing to use violence and crime without any limits,” Piñera said on Sunday. Asked about those comments on Monday, General Javier Iturriaga, head of national security, said, “I'm not at war with anyone. I'm a happy man.”

According to Reuters, subways had resumed operations on Monday morning in Santiago, but most schools were closed and many businesses told their employees to stay home. Workers at the world's largest copper mine, Escondida, told Reuters they were planning to walk off at least one shift on Tuesday in support of the protesters.

Protesters gather in Santiago on Sunday.