Chile: hundreds arrested in protest

At least 475 youths were arrested and about 100 police agents were injured in clashes in Santiago on March 29 when Chilean students, mostly from secondary schools, carried out their annual march for the Day of the Young Combatant. Some of the columns marched peacefully in the center of the city, but others—including anarchists and masked youths carrying Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) banners—clashed with police near the La Moneda palace. The police then blocked the march and used tear-gas grenades and water cannons on the protesters. There were also disturbances outside the capital. Five youths were arrested near Tarapaca University in the northern city of Arica, and violent incidents occurred in the northern city of Copiapo, and at Atacama University, as well as in Valparaiso, Concepcion and Temuco.

The March 29 protests commemorate the killing by Carabinero police agents of two brothers, Rafael and Eduardo Vergara Toledo, at a 1985 protest against then-dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte in Villa Francia, Estacion Central. This year the actions also protested public transport problems in Santiago and the government’s delays in educational reforms demanded by students in massive demonstrations in May and June 2006. As the protests were taking place this year, Judge Carlos Gajardo, who heads the investigation into the Vergara Toledo case, formally charged four police agents—retired agents Alex Ambler Hinojosa, Francisco Toledo Puente and Jorge Marin Jimenez, and active agent Marcelo Munoz—with the murders. (La Jornada, Mexico), March 30)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 1

See our last post on Chile.