[News] Chile: Anti-APEC rally turns violent

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Fri Nov 19 19:39:01 EST 2004


Anti-APEC rally turns violent
by
Friday 19 November 2004 9:00 PM GMT

Chilean police and protesters have clashed at a rally against the 
Asia-Pacific summit and US President George Bush

Police fired water-cannon and tear gas on Friday at the protestors who 
turned out in the tens of thousands.

Many of the activists had marched peacefully in the police-authorised 
demonstration through Santiago ahead of a weekend Asia-Pacific Economic 
Cooperation (APEC) summit.

But as the procession culminated with a concert in a central park, small 
knots of masked protesters destroyed telephone cabins, smashed lamps and 
lobbed stones at police and through the windows of a closed McDonalds 
restaurant.

Riot police in armoured cars responded with water and tear gas, scattering 
people in the park. Organisers halted the concert.

Carnival-like atmosphere

Only moments earlier, there had been a near carnival-like atmosphere with 
families, children and young people rallying under tight police supervision.

During a procession, scantily clad girls had danced the samba alongside a 
Brazilian beating drums, painted indigenous Mapuche people, two beauty 
queens, one them a transvestite, and Amnesty International activists with 
the Palestinian flag.

"No violence allowed here," read one banner.

"Bush terrorist, assassin," read another.

Four or five floats made to look like tanks rolled along.

An eagle made of plastic sheeting dragged plastic bottles behind it, the 
creation of the "Interesting Patriotic Theatre Group" which said it 
represented the eagle of imperialism turning everything into garbage.

Fifteen people walked in silence blindfolded.

'Blindfolded from reality'

Antonia, 15, said: "These are the blindfolds they put over our eyes so we 
don't see the reality and exploitation."

Police took action hours earlier as young radicals tried to gather for a 
separate, unauthorised march.

They fired tear gas and water cannon as the protesters tried to cluster in 
the side-streets and main Alameda boulevard, not far from where APEC 
leaders, including Bush, will huddle at the weekend.

In an extraordinary clampdown, officials declared a citywide holiday, 
prompting a long-weekend exodus from Santiago.

Agencies
By

You can find this article at:
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/E03B6769-132A-472F-BBC9-41570F56DB55.htm 



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