Chile removes embattled statue from main plaza

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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chilean officials on Friday removed the embattled statue of a military hero from one of the capital's main plazas.

The statue of Gen. Manuel Baquedano, a hero of the country's 19th century war against Peru and Bolivia, fell victim to antigovernment protests that have repeatedly targeted buildings and monuments in Santiago since 2019.

The bronze, 4-ton statue was repeatedly scratched, burned, painted and covered with protest flags. Protesters several times tried unsuccessfully to topple it.

Col. Eduardo Villalón, director of the Army's cultural department, said it would undergo restoration that was expected to last about a year.

The Army had repeatedly sought to remove the statue from Plaza Italia, a central focus of Chilean protest movements.

The National Monuments Commission finally accepted that petition after protesters last week burned tires beneath the statue and others tried to cut it down with saws.