Police used tear gas, water cannons and clubs against demonstrators staging nationwide protests Wednesday over government social and economic policies.
Authorities said 372 people were detained in the daylong protests, which spread in the capital of Santiago from downtown to several working class districts. Santiago regional Gov. Adriana Delpiano said 50 demonstrators and 18 police officers were injured, none seriously.
Journalists saw several demonstrators bleeding or overcome by tear gas after clashes with police. Among the injured was Sen. Alejandro Navarro, of President Michelle Bachelet’s Socialist Party, who bled from the back of his head after being clubbed by a police officer. Deputy Interior Minister Felipe Harboe said the incident would be investigated.
Navarro, who went to a nearby hospital for medical attention, supported the protest called by country’s largest union federation to oppose free-market economics and the government’s social policies.
Bachelet’s government “is doing things very badly,” said union leader Arturo Martinez, another Socialist Party member backing the protests.
The center-left government has maintained a largely free-market economic model, which includes free-trade agreements with the United States and other countries.
Protest organizers called for higher pensions and better education, health and housing services.
Police repeatedly blocked protesters from marching toward the center of Santiago but demonstrators blocked traffic at key intersections.
The president appeared especially upset that some members of her own coalition were backing the protests.
“I am not going to accept that my dedication to social justice is not recognized,” she said Monday night.