|Protestors set fires outside the Vina del Mar music festival in Chile on February 23, 2020. — AFP/VNA Photo
SANTIAGO — Thousands of protesters armed with stones, sticks and Molotov cocktails clashed with police on Sunday as Latin America's biggest music festival opened, in the latest spurt of a four-month old wave of grassroots anger over economic inequality and other woes.
Police blocked the entrance to a park where the festival was being held in Vina del Mar, a seaside resort about 120km west of Santiago.
Officers used a helicopter and a balloon with surveillance cameras and drove back the protesters by firing water cannon and tear gas.
"Vandals and criminals are trying to do damage just four blocks from the entrance to the festival. But everything is under control," Jorge Martinez, the Valparaiso regional governor, told the 24-hour state news channel.
After failing to get into the festival grounds, protesters attacked nearby shops and the renowned O'Higgins Hotel where many festival artists usually stay. Tear gas drifting through the hotel forced many guests to flee. The protesters also burned at least seven vehicles.
Despite the official optimism, the festival's traditional Hollywood-style red carpet opening, one of Chile's most watched televised events, was canceled. — AFP