SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Chileans gathered in the central square of Santiago to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests that left over 30 dead and thousands injured, with peaceful rallies on Sunday devolving by nightfall into riots and looting. Demonstrators set a riot police vehicle on fire during clashes on the commemoration of the first anniversary of the social uprising in Chile, in Santiago, on October 18, 2020, as the country prepares for a landmark referendum. Churches Burned Down During Protest As Thousands Gathered In Santiago Square. Archbishop Celestino Aos, of Santiago, released a statement lamenting the destruction of churches and public property, "but we regret above all the pain of so many Chilean people of peace and generosity" https://t.co/n5NmHWM90y The dome of the church of Asunción falls down burning in flames after being set on fire by rioters on the commemoration of the first anniversary of the social uprising in Chile… Protests broke out a year ago initially as a response to a hike in metro fares, before mushrooming into a general demonstration against inequality and the government. To enable commenting and other interactive features, please switch to the more advanced . Most demonstrators on Sunday wore masks, but many could be seen in tight groups, raising concerns about a potential health risk. While the morning brought a largely festive atmosphere to the protests at Plaza Italia, there were several incidences of violence, looting and vandalism in the afternoon. 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More than 15 metro stations were temporarily closed amid the unrest. Former U.S. citizen sentenced in Chile for shooting at protesters. Churches Burned As Thousands Mark Chile Protest Movement Anniversary. Protests in Chile turn violent with church set on fire and police using tear gas. SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) — Demonstrators burned two Catholic churches in Chile, where gatherings to mark the one-year anniversary of … The demonstrations occurred a week before a referendum on whether to ditch a dictatorship-era constitution. Police even gradually pulled back from the Plaza Italia. Chile anniversary rallies turn violent as churches burned, police fire tear gas A protester gestures while a church is set on fire during a protest against Chile's … Eduardo Thomson. Reporting by Dave Sherwood and Natalia Ramos in Santiago; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing. They also took statues and images of Jesus from the church as well as statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints to be burned in the fire. SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) — Demonstrators burned two Catholic churches in Chile, where gatherings to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests against inequality descended into chaos. Rioters burned and vandalized several churches last year. Demonstrators also called for their countrymen to vote to “approve” the proposed constitutional change. Chile Anniversary Rallies Turn Violent as Churches Burned, Police Fire Tear Gas By Reuters , Wire Service Content Oct. 18, 2020 By Reuters , Wire Service Content Oct. 18, 2020, at 3:39 p.m. Fire truck sirens, burning barricades on roadways and fireworks on downtown streets added to a sense of chaos in some neighborhoods. San Francisco de Borja and La Asuncion churches in Santiago de Chile were destroyed on Sunday.” Police fired tear gas and water cannons in skirmishes with sometimes violent, hooded and masked people. – Changing the constitution enacted under former dictator Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973-90, was a key demand of protesters during the two months of violent civil unrest against the government and inequality. Valentina Fuentes. The communist mayor of a neighbourhood near the central square, Daniel Jadue, was hounded out of Plaza Italia by protesters. “Burning churches is an expression of brutality,” said Minister of the Interior and Security Víctor Perez, adding that the violence was coming from a “minority” of protesters. Vandals attacked another Santiago church in the early evening, setting its spire aflame and choking side streets with smoke. On November 3, 2020, Chile's Interior and Security Minister Victor Perez resigned after being suspended from his duties when the Chamber of Deputies voted in favor of an investigation over allegations he failed to stop police abuses during protests. Two churches were torched as tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered Sunday in a central Santiago square to mark the anniversary of a protest movement that broke out last year demanding greater equality in Chile. Protesters Clash With Chile Police, Burn Church in Santiago By . The Chilean constitution does not address subway fares and the Catholic Church has no official position on the matter. There were clashes between groups of football hooligans in one Santiago neighbourhood, while protesters in Plaza Italia doused a statue with red paint. Hopes of a ‘fairer Chile’ Early in the day, an angry mob jeered and threatened a Communist Party mayor. The building dated back to 1876. Masked rioters burned down two churches and looted several businesses in Santiago, Chile, on Sunday following a rally of tens of thousands of people in support of erasing the nation’s constitution and writing a new one. The government of President Sebastian Pinera — one of the protesters’ main targets — called on demonstrators to be peaceful and to respect coronavirus restrictions. “The people of Chile need to unite, and we have to believe that we can do things.”. By AFP . Later, masked individuals firebombed a police headquarters and church. In recent months, more than a dozen Catholic churches and two Protestant ones have been burned by indigenous groups in southern Chile. Last year’s protests, which began Oct. 18, raged until mid-December as Chileans gathered nationwide to call for reforms to the pension, healthcare and education systems. Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. Santiago, Chile, Nov 12, 2019 / 11:01 pm MT ().-Several churches across Chile have been attacked and looted amid anti-government protests in the country. Churches burned as thousands mark Chile protest movement anniversary. (Photo by Martin BERNETTI / AFP). and . The demonstration comes just a week before Chileans vote in a referendum on whether to replace the dictatorship-era constitution — one of the key demands when the protest movement began in October 2019. (CNS photo/Ivan Alvarado, Reuters) SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) — Demonstrators burned two Catholic churches in Chile, where gatherings to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests against inequality descended into chaos. Police estimated that Sunday’s rally in Santiago attracted around 25,000 people by 6 p.m., far smaller than the largest protests of 2019. “It’s great, very good and positive,” demonstrator Viviana Donoso, 43, told AFP as she and a group of people danced to drums. Chile’s population is estimated to be about 67 percent Catholic and 84 percent Christian, including other denominations. One church close to Plaza Italia was burned to the ground as hooded protesters cheered, while a second-place of worship was looted and also suffered fire damage. By Dave Sherwood, Natalia A. Ramos Miranda. The unrest saw the military take to the streets for the first time since the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet. Two Catholic churches were burned in Santiago, #Chile today, amidst protest. The deadly outbreak has killed 13,600 Chileans, with more than 490,000 infected. Vandals stormed La Asuncion Church in Santiago and took out pews and chairs to add to a burning barricade. CHURCHES BURNED DOWN DURING PROTEST – Two churches were razed as thousands of protesters occupied Santiago square in Chile.. EWTN’s full tweet reads, “Chilean protesters burned [two] Catholic churches on the anniversary of last year’s anti-government demonstrations and ahead of a constitutional referendum. Demonstrators loot churches in Chile and burn statues of Jesus in the streets as month-long protest over inequality turns violent. “This is the opportunity to say ‘enough!’ We’re here and we’re going to vote for ‘Approve,'” Paulina Villarroel, a 29-year-old psychologist, told AFP. Masked protestors filmed and cheered as the burning spire of a Chilean church crashed to the ground Sunday night, video shows. By AFP News 10/19/20 AT 3:13 AM. Firefighters managed to get that blaze under control. All quotes delayed a minimum of 15 minutes. Santiago de Chile, Oct 18 (efe-epa).- Two churches in the center of Santiago de Chile were burned Sunday after a massive demonstration that gathered tens of thousands of people to commemorate the first anniversary of the most serious wave of protests since the end of the military dictatorship. Churches torched on anniversary of protests in Chile Tens of thousands of demonstrators gather a week before Chileans vote on referendum on whether to replace the dictatorship-era constitution Two Catholic churches in Santiago were burned as well. In the past few days, small-scale demonstrations and isolated incidents of violence have nonetheless resurfaced in Chile, as the capital’s 6 million citizens emerge from months of confinement following the COVID-19 pandemic. Interior Minister Victor Perez spoke late in the evening, praising the early, peaceful rallies while blasting the late-night mayhem. This occurred amid weeks of protests in the capital. Many touted signs and rainbow colored homemade banners calling for a “yes” vote next Sunday in a referendum over whether to scrap the country’s dictatorship-era Constitution, a key demand of the 2019 protests. Chile anniversary rallies turn violent as churches burned, police fire tear gas By Dave Sherwood and Natalia A. Ramos Miranda 10/18/2020 Elections expert … People gathered early in the day in demonstrations downtown and in cities throughout Chile that gained size and fervor through the evening. The small Church of the Assumption, which was totally destroyed, is known as the “artists’ parish,” according to local press. Churches burn during violent protests in Chile 01:27 People gathered early in the day in demonstrations downtown and in cities throughout Chile … “Those who carry out these acts of violence do not want Chileans to solve our problems through democratic means,” Perez told reporters, vowing to punish those who crossed the line Sunday. 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