State of emergency declared in Chile as demonstrations over transit costs turn violent | TheHill – The Hill

Troops roamed the streets of Santiago, Chile after long protests turned violent Saturday, resulting in more than 150 injured police officers and more than 300 arrests, NBC News reported.  

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera declared a state of emergency in the capital Friday night in an effort to limit the demonstrations across the city as protesters clashed with police officers and law enforcement launched tear gas.

The protests began Friday night as part of a campaign by young people to protest the second fare increase on the city’s metro this year, The New York Times reported. The fare increase began earlier this month and immediately sparked outrage throughout the country, as the cost of living for poor and middle class Chileans has continued to rise.

But as the number of demonstrators grew, protesters spilled into the street and set fire to subway stations, banks, buses cars, and the headquarters of the country’s largest electricity provider, Enel.  

People also looted pharmacies, supermarkets and other stores, the Times reported. The protests spread to at least four other cities in Chile and are expected to continue Saturday night, despite the state of emergency that limits how people may move and assemble freely.

Chile’s current state gives the army authority over internal security, according to the Times, which is why troops were spread out across the streets of Santiago Saturday.

Piñera said in a televised address from the presidential palace that the state of emergency was declared to restore order, calling the protesters “delinquents,” the Times reported. He added that his administration will try to find a way to “alleviate” the burden of rising transit costs in the city. A subway ride at rush hour currently costs approximately $1.20.

“The objective of this state of emergency is very simple, but very profound,” Piñera said, “it’s to ensure public order, bring peace to Santiago and protect public and private property.”