SANTIAGO: Three people were wounded by gunfire and two arrested in clashes at May Day demonstrations in Chile, police said.
The shooting occurred during a Sunday march called by a union in the capital Santiago as some protesters erected barricades and entered commercial premises, clashing with merchants.
“There were clashes between street vendors who unfortunately used firearms and injured three people, two of them women and a third man was also injured by a ballistic impact,” said Enrique Monras, chief of police for the metropolitan area.
Police confirmed two foreigners were arrested on suspicion of firing the shots.The force used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.
President Gabriel Boric decried the violence, telling a news channel: “We are normalizing violence, we cannot allow criminal gangs to take over the streets of our country.”
Separately, the main traditional May Day march, organized by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT) union, passed without incident as thousands of people with flags and banners gathered in the Plaza Italia.
“We are happy, it is a special and particular day after two years of confinement (due to Covid) … to recognize the work of many colleagues such as health, commerce and transport workers, who were fundamental in this pandemic,” said CUT president David Acuna.
They were joined by Labor Minister Jeannette Jara, the first member of the Communist Party to hold the position since the return of democracy in Chile in 1990.
She was the architect of an agreement reached by the CUT and business organizations that will raise the minimum wage by 12.5 percent.
The minimum wage is set to reach 400,000 pesos ($470) per month from August. Boric has said his goal is to raise it to 500,000 pesos by 2026.