SANTIAGO, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Chile's Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at stamping out violent protests such as looting and roadblocking.
The bill makes it a crime to paralyze or disrupt basic services such as public or emergency transportation, hurl "sharp or cutting" objects such as knives, or destroy or occupy buildings of religious, scientific or social significance.
Once enacted, those violating the law could be subject to up to five years in jail, depending on the severity of the crime.
The "anti-looting and anti-roadblock" bill was passed overwhelmingly, with 127 votes in favor, 7 against and 13 abstained. It now goes to the Senate.
"We have to separate peaceful protest, which is a right we have to respect, from the commission of serious crimes by these groups that are causing so much damage in an organized way," Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel said.
Chile has been roiled by anti-government protests since a mid-October hike in subway fares in Santiago.