Chile’s president declared a state of emergency in Santiago Friday night and gave the military responsibility for security after a day of violent protests over an increase in the price of metro tickets.
Throughout Friday, protestors clashed with riot police in several parts of the capital and the subway system was shut after attacks on stations in some of the worst violence the city has seen in years. At least 16 buses were torched and a dozen metro stations totally destroyed.
Around midnight President Sebastian Pinera declared a state of emergency and appointed Major General Javier Iturriaga del Campo as head of national defense.
The state of emergency is initially for 15 days and restricts freedom of movement and assembly. Due to the emergency, the National Football Association has suspended matches this weekend. General Iturriaga said the military would patrol major trouble spots in the city of seven million but would not impose a curfew at present.
The unrest started as a fare-dodging protest mainly by students against the hike in metro ticket prices, which increased from 800 to 830 peso ($1.13 to $1.17) for peak-hour travel, following a 20 peso rise in January.
The fare hike was blamed on rising oil prices and a weaker peso.