SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Chileans gathered in the central square of Santiago to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests that left over 30 dead and thousands injured, with peaceful rallies on Sunday devolving by nightfall into riots and looting. The demonstration comes just a week before Chileans vote in a referendum on whether to replace the dictatorship-era constitution — one of the key demands when the protest movement began in October 2019. Interior Minister Victor Perez spoke late in the evening, praising the early, peaceful rallies while blasting the late-night mayhem. Demonstrators set a riot police vehicle on fire during clashes on the commemoration of the first anniversary of the social uprising in Chile, in Santiago, on October 18, 2020, as the country prepares for a landmark referendum. Protesters Clash With Chile Police, Burn Church in Santiago By . By AFP News 10/19/20 AT 3:13 AM. CHURCHES BURNED DOWN DURING PROTEST – Two churches were razed as thousands of protesters occupied Santiago square in Chile.. Demonstrators loot churches in Chile and burn statues of Jesus in the streets as month-long protest over inequality turns violent. Rioters burned and vandalized several churches last year. “It’s great, very good and positive,” demonstrator Viviana Donoso, 43, told AFP as she and a group of people danced to drums. Two Catholic churches were burned in Santiago, #Chile today, amidst protest. Protesters in Chile burned two churches Sunday night, after anti-government protests in the capital city of Santiago became violent. “Burning churches is an expression of brutality,” said Minister of the Interior and Security Víctor Perez, adding that the violence was coming from a “minority” of protesters. Churches torched on anniversary of protests in Chile Tens of thousands of demonstrators gather a week before Chileans vote on referendum on whether to replace the dictatorship-era constitution Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. Reporting by Dave Sherwood and Natalia Ramos in Santiago; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing. “Those who carry out these acts of violence do not want Chileans to solve our problems through democratic means,” Perez told reporters, vowing to punish those who crossed the line Sunday. “The people of Chile need to unite, and we have to believe that we can do things.”. More than 15 metro stations were temporarily closed amid the unrest. San Francisco de Borja and La Asuncion churches in Santiago de Chile were destroyed on Sunday.” Police even gradually pulled back from the Plaza Italia. By AFP . The government of President Sebastian Pinera — one of the protesters’ main targets — called on demonstrators to be peaceful and to respect coronavirus restrictions. Last year’s protests, which began Oct. 18, raged until mid-December as Chileans gathered nationwide to call for reforms to the pension, healthcare and education systems. Chile Anniversary Rallies Turn Violent as Churches Burned, Police Fire Tear Gas By Reuters , Wire Service Content Oct. 18, 2020 By Reuters , Wire Service Content Oct. 18, 2020, at 3:39 p.m. Two Catholic churches in Santiago were burned as well. He called on Chileans to settle their differences by voting in the upcoming Oct. 25 constitutional referendum. While the morning brought a largely festive atmosphere to the protests at Plaza Italia, there were several incidences of violence, looting and vandalism in the afternoon. Eduardo Thomson. EWTN’s full tweet reads, “Chilean protesters burned [two] Catholic churches on the anniversary of last year’s anti-government demonstrations and ahead of a constitutional referendum. Protests in Chile turn violent with church set on fire and police using tear gas. Rioting and looting resulted in billions of dollars in damage and losses to the country’s businesses and infrastructure. Two Catholic churches were burned in Santiago, #Chile today, amidst protest. There were clashes between groups of football hooligans in one Santiago neighbourhood, while protesters in Plaza Italia doused a statue with red paint. The demonstrations occurred a week before a referendum on whether to ditch a dictatorship-era constitution. Hopes of a ‘fairer Chile’ SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) — Demonstrators burned two Catholic churches in Chile, where gatherings to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests against inequality descended into chaos. 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