Church burning in Chile awakens widespread repudiation
A wave of repudiation continued in Chile on Monday after two churches were looted and burned the day before at the hands of hooded men. The acts of violence marked the commemoration of the first anniversary of a social outbreak that led to a constitutional plebiscite to be held next Sunday.
President Sebastián Piñera called for the condemnation of a minority of criminals who set fire to temples, looted small businesses and vandalized public and private buildings as part of the peaceful celebration of the explosion in Plaza Italia, the meeting point for protests in the Chilean capital.
I know that some minority groups are going to try to hinder or dirty that process (the plebiscite), we are not going to allow it, warned Piñera, who also guaranteed the 14.7 million citizens entitled to vote on Sunday that they will be able to "cast your vote with freedom, peace and security ”.
The mayor of the central Santiago commune, Felipe Alessandri, where the churches are located, said that without being an intelligence expert, yesterday was predictable, I would have hoped that the damage had been better contained with more police presence.
The police had announced that 40,000 officers would guard public order in the country.
A police report said there were 107 violent events, 580 arrested throughout the country and 118 officers injured.
While tens of thousands of people demonstrated the day before, a few meters away, hooded men attacked the historic church of La Asunción, set up a barricade with fire in the street and set the temple on fire. The civil police said that traces of accelerant were found at the scene.
A couple of blocks away, other masked men attacked the institutional church of the police, San Francisco de Borja, which they vandalized and set fire to in an area that was controlled by police and firefighters, although at night the flames intensified and consumed various parts of the building.
The Archbishop of Santiago, Celestino Aos, said that the attacks affect the soul, they have hurt us and affect the soul of Chileans, the soul of Catholics. We want a Chile where peace reigns.
It is the second time that both churches have been vandalized. In November and last January they were attacked by hooded men who looted religious figures with which they later erected burning barricades.
Pro-government and opposition politicians joined in the rejection of the burning of the churches.
Several international organizations accuse the police of committing serious human rights violations during the repression of the massive protests that followed the social outbreak. A recent report by the autonomous National Human Rights Institute indicates that between October 2019 and last March they filed 2,520 complaints for abuse, of which 2,340 are directed at police officers.