It’s surreal walking around my neighbourhood today. Broken glass is sprayed everywhere, fresh spray-paint appears on the sides of otherwise familiar buildings, and fires burn in the middle of the street. The ciaos continues in the traffic as the lights lay broken on the road, and the “everyone for themselves” mentality is demonstrated in the recklessness of the driving and the silent wars in intersections between opposing cars and unconfident pedestrians seeking their moment to cross.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets…
today in the hopes of marching down-town, but were cut-off by the police and ended up on my door step. General Bustamante is one of the city’s wonderful large open parks that is always thronging with people; children playing, families picnicking and couples frolicking in the grass. It’s the little haven for inner-city living right outside my house that I admirer every single day. It’s simply beautiful. Well it was this morning when I woke up.
But today the otherwise peaceful protests in favour of education reform, that have been taking place semi-regularly throughout my entire stay in Santiago, Chile, got out of control. A group of around 40 people in balaclavas took the march to a dangerous level, throwing petrol on vehicles as well as supposedly violently pulling people out of their cars.
The activities began this morning with the sound of small explosions, and chanting to a well-known communist tune. The voices and sounds reminded me of things movies are made of, people yelling in large numbers in harmony, with one leader’s voice igniting the group’s enthusiasm. But as the hours went on the sounds morphed into chaotic honking of car horns, yelling, cheering and screaming. Police attempts to dismantle the crowd was executed with the usual throwing of tear-gas and water cannons, but today proved a bigger challenge with vehicle fires.
The direct aftermath is surprising …
and I’d love to share some photos, but I didn’t feel safe walking around with my camera as there are still a bunch of people around who seem to be on the hunt of trouble, so I snapped a few quick photos with my phone in the quieter area:
In addition to this, there is an alarming amount of damage in Plaza Italia (just up the road), with at least three scorched buses and a vehicle as well.