Chaos returned to Chile: marches, incidents and journalists arrested

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Commemoration this Friday of Labor Day in Chile he got away with incidents in different marches throughout the country and with the arrest in the capital of at least 57 people, between them various local and international journalists who were covering the protest.

Different organizations called a concentration at noon in Plaza Italia, the Santiago roundabout where the social crisis erupted last October, and to which they went near 200 people, the majority with masks and respecting the health safety distances, according to Efe.

Just minutes after the May Day rally began, a large police contingent burst in the vicinity of the plaza, throwing water and pepper spray.

According to the police force of the Carabineros, the 57 people were detained “for breach of the sanitary decree that prohibits the congregation of more than 50 people in a public space. ”

The president of the Unitary Central of Workers, Barbara Figueroa, explained to the media that they had previously informed the Government about the call and that they had only planned to make a 15 minute act, “keeping safety distances”.

“We saw a Carabineros act that is absolutely inexplicable (…) It is not possible that a day as important as International Workers’ Day, where the Executive has made a supreme effort to make us invisible, denies us the right to have closed a activity in a very simple way, “added the leader.

“ATTACK AGAINST THE PRESS”

Among the detainees, there are several local journalists who were reporting on the march and two cameramen from international agencies. France Presse (AFP) and Associated Press (AP), who were released at least two hours later.

A team of the national chain TVN even went so far as to record and broadcast their arrest and its subsequent transfer to the police station.

“We repudiate the repressive action of the Carabineros against the press in the midst of demonstrations for Labor Day. These actions are an attack on Freedom of expression and the right to communication. The Government must respond for such violations,” denounced the College of Journalists.

General Enrique Bassaletti later explained to the media that some detained journalists did not carry their press credentials -something that contradicts the videos viralized in social networks where they appear duly identified and uploading their professional cameras- and assured that the institution ensures “always so that the media can do their job”.

“We regret that the function of community media is obstructed, but we also (have to) understand that these are special circumstances,” he added.

The police body also reported that among the detainees there is a protester with coronavirus, who must be in quarantine until May 9 and who was transferred to a health center.

Also incidents occurred in the port city of Valparaso, where at least a dozen union leaders were arrested after staging an act similar to that of Santiago.

Chile, whose authorities are already talking about returning to normal, detected its first case of COVID-19 on March 3 and until this Friday it registers 17,008 infected and 234 deceased.

Unlike other countries in the region with fewer cases, the Chilean government rejected from the beginning to decree national confinement and to completely close the economy and opted for “selective and strategic quarantines”, with movement restrictions that are imposed and are lifted weekly in each commune (neighborhood) or city according to the new infections.

The country is under a state of exception, with a curfew from 22:00 local time, with schools, universities and borders closed, as well as most shops, although in the next few days the reopening of some shopping centers is expected.

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