Chilean President Sebastian Pinera declared a state of emergency Saturday in the capital of Santiago after an increase in subway-ticket fares led to riots and protests, APA reports citing Bloomberg.
Television channels showed images of armored vehicles roaming the streets of the city, an image not seen at least since the late 1980s during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
Demonstrations began this week as Chileans used social media to coordinate protests in subway stations against an increase in fares of about 30 pesos (4 U.S. cents). Students have jumped the turnstiles en masse or dangled their feet at platforms to force trains to stop. The government ordered the deployment of special security forces Friday who clashed with protesters in Santiago.
Images on TV showed an attack with fire bombs on the corporate building of power company Enel. Firemen were able to control it without anybody being injured, according to pictures distributed via Twitter. Thousands of people banged pots in solidarity with the protesters in different districts of the capital.
Pinera’s popularity, already affected by slow economic growth and weak consumer demand, may take a further a hit because of the protests. Chile in recent decades has been considered an oasis of calm and security amid volatility in some other South American countries.