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“We will not allow this kind of violence. We call on citizens to express themselves without aggression,” said Minister Vallejo.
On Sunday, a week before the mandatory plebiscite whereby Chileans will decide whether to accept or reject the new Constitution, Santiago City was the scene of an episode of violence that raised tensions in a highly politically polarized country.
Mounted on horseback and dressed in the traditional costumes, citizens rejecting the new constitution attacked a group of cyclists who were marching in favor of a text that will replace the constitution drafted by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
According to eyewitnesses, the marches for and against the new constitution coincided on a street in downtown Santiago, where the right-wingers were "the ones who first resorted to violence," after small groups from both sides began to insult each other.
At one point, one of the opponents of the new constitution took out the typical whip used by wealthy farmers and began to hit the ground to cause noise. "Then he hit the cyclists," explained Maria, a woman who owns a grocery store in the area.
The tweet reads, "A group of people on horseback and dressed in traditional costumes whips cyclists who were marching in support of "I approve" in downtown Santiago."
Later, as can be seen in videos posted on social networks, one of the right-wingers put his horse into a gallop and launched himself into the cyclists, who had to move aside to avoid being run over.
The incident sparked a dispute with the cyclists who began throwing stones at the riders. Although the clashes only left minor injuries, they raised the alerts about the political environment that could be generated in the coming days.
“We will not allow this kind of violence. We call on citizens to express themselves without aggression. Taking care of the constitutional process is everyone's task,” said Minister General Secretariat of Government Camila Vallejo, who added that the administration of President Gabriel Boric will investigate the incidents and arrest those responsible of them.