140 Arrested, 18 police injured in Chile student protests

Protests by thousands of striking high school students demanding better public education resulted in at least 140 arrests, left 18 riot police injured and caused damage to public and private property, the government of the Santiago metropolitan region and Chile’s Carabineros militarized police force said.

The national student strike followed three weeks of protests that included school occupations punctuated by police operations to evict the occupiers.

In a statement to the media, the authorities said 39 of the detainees were adults who were accused of disorderly conduct and assaulting police officers during Thursday’s protests.

“The (student) leaders did not keep their word not to block traffic and forced detours to be set up on more than 40 roads, as well as causing damage and destruction to public and private property,” the head of security for the Santiago metropolitan region, Gonzalo Diaz del Rio, said.

He said three riot police had been hospitalized with serious injuries and that students from the prestigious, downtown Instituto Nacional, located two blocks from the presidential palace, set materials on fire at the establishment.

According to estimates by the Carabineros, nearly 8,000 students took part in 14 unauthorized marches, in which the protesters fanned out to Santiago’s communes to present their demands to several mayors in greater Santiago.

Clashes with police erupted at the end of marches in the capital’s downtown and near the mayor’s office in the Santiago commune of Providencia.

In downtown Santiago, confrontations broke out after 3,000 youths who had assembled at the Plaza de Armas sought to march along Bernardo O’Higgins avenue and some nearby streets.

Police warned the protesters not to interfere with traffic and eventually used water jets and tear gas to disperse the youth, who responded by throwing rocks and other projectiles.

Similar violence occurred in Providencia, although in that case police rushed at some 5,000 youths congregated outside the local government offices in the commune, preventing them from delivering their demands to the mayor.

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