Chilean President Sebastián Piñera declared a state of emergency in a televised address to the nation on Friday after days of violent protests in the country’s capital.
Hundreds have taken to the streets of Santiago and surrounding cities in recent days to protest against the rising cost of public transport, vandalizing metro stations and even setting an electrical company building on fire.
“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.”
Piñera condemned this week’s violence and looting, saying that because of currency exchange fluctuations, it was necessary to raise the price of public transport. But he added that he sympathized with those who were bearing the cost of the rises.
“In the coming days, our government will call for a dialogue … to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the increase in fares,” Pinera said in the broadcast address, according to Reuters.
The President said that under special state security laws, those who caused the damage across the city would be prosecuted, the news agency added.
At least 180 people were detained and 57 police officers were injured in Friday’s protests, according to the Chilean Police Director General, Mario Rozas.
Rozas said civilians were also injured during the protests, but he did not give a number.
During the same news conference, the mayor of Santiago’s metropolitan area, Karla Rubilar Barahona said that the destruction of the metro stations was “massive.”
CNN’s Peter Wilkinson wrote from London.