© Flames rise over a private university in the latest mass protest against Chile’s President Pinera AFP/Martin Bernetti
A university in central Santiago was damaged by fire on Friday as thousands of protesters gathered nearby for their latest demonstration against the austerity policies of Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.
As the protest at Plaza Italia in the capital of Chile was underway, a blaze broke out at the nearby Pedro de Valdivia University. Nineteen crews of firefighters were dispatched to deal with the conflagration. Three people were reported arrested, with police saying they were responsible for the fire and were caught looting the place.
It was not clear if the alleged arson had anything to do with the protest. The person it is named after – a Spanish conquistador and the first royal governor of Chile – certainly drew some ire amid the ongoing wave of public rage. Protesters belonging to the indigenous Mapuche people have targeted several images of the colonial figure recently, including a bust in a city named after de Valdivia, which was stolen and thrown into the Valdivia River from the Valdivia Bridge.