On 18 October 2020, thousands of demonstrators gathered across the capital Santiago to mark the one-year anniversary of the start of nationwide anti-government protests. Protesters mainly gathered at the Plaza de Armas and Plaza Boquedano in central Santiago, but demonstrations occurred across the metropolitan area. Isolated clashes between groups of protesters and riot police officers occurred in the evening. At least 15 metro stations were temporarily closed in Santiago, and authorities deployed tear gas and water cannons in several skirmishes. In one instance, approximately 300 demonstrators threw fireworks, Molotov cocktails and stones at a police station in Puente Alto before dispersing as officers prepared to intervene. In addition, protesters erected barricades and set fires across a number of roadways, damaging property and looting nearby businesses. Looters reportedly set a fire in the San Francisco de Borja Church, located near Plaza Boquedano, but emergency responders contained the blaze and minimized the damage; authorities arrested at least six people in connection with starting the fire.
Analyst Comment: Demonstrations are likely to continue ahead of the national plebiscite — which is slated to occur on 25 October — on whether to rewrite the Chilean constitution. While the majority of protesters will likely gather peacefully, there is potential for isolated instances of violence. Those with interests and personnel in Santiago and elsewhere in Chile should keep abreast of local developments and prepare contingencies in the event of widespread unrest.