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Chile anti-government protest rally turns violent

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Chilean police clash with students during a march against the government in the city of Valparaiso on May 21, 2015. ©AFP

Chilean police have attacked anti-government protesters trying to disrupt a presidential speech northwest of the capital, Santiago.

Police on Thursday used water cannons and tear gas to prevent the protesters from storming the National Congress building in the port city of Valparaiso, where President Michelle Bachelet was addressing the parliament.

General Julio Pineda, a police official, said that at least 37 protesters were arrested and a demonstrator sustained serious injuries.

During her speech, Bachelet promised a constitutional reform, in which she said citizens from across the political spectrum would be able to participate.

"Today there is a consensus of the urgent need to stop the trafficking of influence, stop the conflicts of interests and the corruption in politics and business," Bachelet said, adding, "We need to restore confidence."

A student is arrested during clashes following a demonstration against the Chilean government in Valparaiso, Chile, on May 21, 2015. ©AFP

She also said the country is experiencing one of the most important transformation processes in its history, but did not provide details about the reform which is due to kick off in September.

Her annual speech comes at a time when the government is suffering from a low approval rating following several scandals, with one involving Bachelet’s son.

Many people believe the constitution needs to be completely overhauled.


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