Protesters confront an anti-riot vehicle in a protest today, in the Plaza Italia in Santiago, Chile. (EFE Agency)
Santiago de Chile – Hundreds of Chileans took to the streets again this Saturday to protest a day after a police officer allegedly threw a minor into a river during another demonstration, an episode that has generated a stir in the country and has drawn criticism from international organizations.
Holding signs that stated “It did not fall, they threw it”, the protesters gathered in the capital's Plaza Italia, popularly renamed “Plaza Dignidad”, which was once again the meeting point of citizen discontent with a march full of protests and demands against police repression.
Some images recorded by a television channel, which show how a 16-year-old teenager falls into a river channel after being thrown over the railing of a bridge at the hands, allegedly, of a policeman during a march on Friday, turned on the wick and gathered this new protest.
Hours before, the Chilean Prosecutor's Office announced the preventive detention of the police agent, identified thanks to the recordings, who was suspended from his position after opening an administrative summary and which will be formalized this Sunday.
The incident rekindled criticism from various international organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) or Amnesty International (AI), which after the social outbreak of October 2019 denounced excessive use of force and serious human rights violations by the police during the marches.
“The serious complaints and images of yesterday reaffirm the need to move forward decisively in the comprehensive reforms to Carabineros that we proposed in November 2019,” said the director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) for the Americas, José Manuel Vivanco, in his account from Twitter.
During the protest, guarded by a strong contingent of Carabineros (militarized Police) who tried to disperse the encounter with the usual water-throwing cars and tear gas canisters, at least ten arrests were made.
The protesters launched slogans against the current Government and were sympathetic to the option of approving the drafting of a new Magna Carta in the referendum that will take place on October 25, proposed as the political way to put an end to social unrest.
Chile is experiencing the most serious social and political crisis since the end of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), which left around thirty dead and thousands of injured, in addition to episodes of extreme violence with looting, fires and destruction of public furniture.
After five months of hiatus due to confinement, the protests were reactivated last August, coinciding with the gradual lifting of sanitary restrictions that the country has been experiencing for weeks. EFE