Chile: Fifty-One Arrested During May 1st Protest for Labor and Immigration Rights

Santiago, Chile – Two marches marked the first of May in Chile’s capital Monday. A permitted march was organized by Chile’s national association of labor unions, la CUT, while an unpermitted “classist and combative” march was organized by independent unions as well as communist, socialist and anarchist groups. A similarly divided Mayday played out last year in Santiago as well as in other Chilean cities.

While each march had over 5,000 people in attendance, it was the unpermitted march that faced severe repression from Chilean police special forces units, who used CS gas and water cannons in attempts to disperse the march. The water from the water cannons also contained chemicals that burned like CS gas on contact.

Some protesters fought back against police using rocks. The police special forces repeatedly retreated, raising their shields high to protect their heads. Eight police officers were reportedly injured and 51 protesters were arrested. After holding the area around the city’s central train and bus station for hours and burning materials from a nearby construction site in several large flaming barricades, protesters eventually dispersed. Three corporate businesses were severely damaged during the march.

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