Organisers said around 12,000 indigenous Chileans, mostly members of the Mapuche community, rallied to mark Indigenous People’s Day, to protests against the 519th anniversary of Christopher Colombus’s arrival in the Americas,
The anniversary of Colombus’s first landfall on 12 October 1492 is a public holiday in Chile but for indigenous groups it is seen as the start of the Spanish conquest of their country.
The march started peacefully as the Mapuche, which means Earth People in the Mapudungun tongue, called for more rights and demanded the return of ancestral lands they say were stolen from them over the last 500 years by colonisers.
Violence erupted with hooded protesters throwing rocks at policemen and setting barricades on fire in the city’s main street. Police used water cannons and tear gas to break up the demonstration.