Racers in the 34th annual Dakar Rally are nearing the finish line in Santiago, Chile. The winners are set to arrive on Sunday, January 20, after racing more than 8,500 km (5,280 mi) in 14 stages, across unforgiving territory in Peru, Argentina, and Chile. More than 450 teams are taking part, pitting themselves against the elements, driving specialized off-road cars, trucks, motorcycles, and quadbikes. Below, I’ve gathered some of the best images I could find of this year’s race so far, and some of the challenges brought by recent heavy rainfall.
See more. [Images: AP, Reuters, Getty]
For the past several months, students, teachers, and their supporters in Chile have been staging chaotic demonstrations against their government. Their goal is to transform the country’s education system. In particular, they’re seeking a referendum to significantly increase the funding and quality of public schools. Students have engaged in multiple forms of protest, from hunger strikes and sit-ins to marches and pillow fights. Smaller groups of protesters have engaged riot police directly, hurling stones and firebombs. Chilean authorities have responded by banning demonstrations, pushing protesters back with water cannons, and offering education proposals that have been rejected. Students in the tens of thousands — with popular backing across Chile — continue to march without official permission, and public sentiment against president Sebastian Piñera continues to grow.
Above: Students throw stones at a riot police vehicle, which was set alight by a molotov cocktail, during an anti-government rally in Valparaiso, on August 9, 2011. (Reuters/Eliseo Fernandez)
Not England…Chile. See more photos at In Focus
Last week, a Chilean judge ordered an investigation into the 1973 death of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. He died 12 days after a right-wing military coup by Pinochet, and while his death was long considered to be due to illness, Chile’s Communist Party (of which he was a member) have asked for this investigation. A human rights lawyer noted that there were discrepancies between the local reports of his death and the official death certificate and that exiling the famed poet would have proved “very difficult for the dictatorship.” His former driver, Manuel Araya, believes that Neruda was poisoned to prevent him from moving to Mexico to continue to voice opposition to Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
This investigation comes one month after the opening of an investigation into the death of Salvador Allende, the deposed leader whose 1973 death was ruled a suicide. His body was exhumed as forensic teams try to determine if he was assassinated.
Photo: Pablo Neruda talking to reporters after winning the Nobel Prize in 1971. Credit: Laurent Rebours/AP File Photo
Lightning bolts strike around the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain near southern Osorno city June 5, 2011. (Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)
See more stunning photos at In Focus
From the Reuters urgent wire.
The 2010 Chilean earthquake struck Concepcion on February 27. More information at the USGS website.