Religious leaders in Chile called people to pray for the end of left-wing riots taking place across the country on Tuesday, after a weekend marred by violence that saw at least 15 people killed and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
The demonstrations started early last week as a student revolt against a three percent increase in metro fares, but have since morphed into widespread riots that have led to authorities calling a state of emergency.
Protestante Digital reports that several Chilean evangelical organizations have issued communiqués condemning the violence in the capital of Santiago and other major cities, calling on people to pray for the restoration of the “social order.”
Protests Erupt Across Chile – 21 images from cities in Chile, where a protest that began small – anger over a subway fare hike – has grown huge, leading to clashes with riot police, looting, arson, hundreds of arrests, and at least 15 deaths. https://t.co/fv42LNj6cA pic.twitter.com/ymtM8lzukr
— The Atlantic Photo (@TheAtlPhoto) October 22, 2019
“We ask that the social order be restored in a timely manner and we are assuming an active commitment to contribute to this task,” said the president of the Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Chile (UBACH), Juan Carlos Barrera.
I deeply regret the violence and vandalism actions that pollute the eyes and prevent us from understanding the reasons behind these demonstrations in different regions of the country. What we have seen Santiago indicates that there is something else. It’s not just about students evading the subway, it’s a much bigger problem. But violence is not the way that Jesus proposes and we cannot support it.
On Sunday evening, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera gave a televised address to announce he had scrapped plans to raise the cost of subway fairs. He also launched an attack on the rioters, declaring that the country was at “war with a powerful and uncompromising enemy that respects nothing and no one.”
[EN VIVO] https://t.co/sgjvGOMJKu
— Sebastian Piñera (@sebastianpinera) October 19, 2019
The National Council of Evangelical Churches of Chile (CONIEV) came out in support of Piñera, declaring “all our support” to his efforts to restore calm and accusing those behind the violence of being “servants of darkness.”
“Public order is God’s perfect will for society, and at this time it is up to support the armed forces and the police, who are constitutionally responsible for maintaining it,” the organization said in a statement.
The unrest is the worst the country has seen since the final weeks of Augusto Pinochet’s military junta in 1989.
Chile declared a state of emergency after protests over a tax on subways grew to include anger over living costs and inequality. Security forces fired tear gas and arrested 1,400+ people.
At least 11 people have died, and schools and shops are closed. pic.twitter.com/GVXigtBC1u
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 21, 2019
The organization Christians for Christ and for Chile urged their followers to partake in direct action by going out to the streets “to help collect the rubble and clean the subway stations.”
“In hours, the country was transformed into a state of chaos and it is important that the church must be prepared and have a contingent of people willing to contribute not just in ways beyond spirituality,” they said.
Several Evangelical leaders have also convened a prayer movement from the “Chile, we pray for you” platform, which has organized calls to pray from home daily. “This is the time to pray together for our nation,” they explained.