Things That Matter

Revolutionary Energy Has Reached Chile And The People Are Fighting To Take Their Country Back

There is no question that Latin America is in the midst of a revolution. It seems as if there is a battle between extreme-right governments and the people, except the governments have tear gas. Puerto Ricans revolted against their corrupt Gov. Ricardo Rossello, and successfully ousted him from power. Last month, Ecuador’s indigenous communities revolted against Ecuadorian President Moreno’s decision to end fuel subsidies, among other austerity measures, and won. A month ago, indigenous President Evo Morales of Bolivia won the democratic vote only to be victimized by his own military in a coup that landed a white conservative Christian Senator to replace President Morales, now living in asylum in Mexico City. Colombia’s conservative President is a year into his term and is tear-gassing revolters throughout the country, closing the national border and implementing curfews.

Now, the people of Chile are joining the Latin American revolution to end increasing income-inequality.

What seemed like a small 30 peso increase in public transit fares has led to thousands taking to the streets to chant “It’s not 30 pesos, it’s 30 years.”

CREDIT: @ELYGLEZM / TWITTER

Why? Because, like every moment you’ve ever lost your mierda on someone for a microaggression, there is history here, and the United States is more responsible than many might think. Before dictatorship swept the nation, Chile was had democratically elected its first socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973. Allende delivered on his platform to raise the minimum wage, create universal healthcare, free school lunch, and advocated for the indigenous Mapuche children to be integrated into the public school system. Meanwhile, the United States’ CIA has funneled $3 million to finance anti-Allende campaigns and another $2.6 million to finance Eduardo Frei’s campaign — Allende’s rival. When the people continued to elect Allende, the CIA backed the Chilean military to stage a coup. The very last thing Allende told the Chilean people was his vow that he would never resign. The following morning, the military told Chile that Allende killed himself with a gift from Fidel Castro — an AK-47 rifle. Augusto Pinochet appointed himself Chile’s “Supreme Chief of the Nation,” and a dictatorship was born.

Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet may have been ousted 30 years ago, but Chileans feel like its economic progress has been to benefit the ultra-rich and only served to widen the wealth gaps. After the “Chicago Boys” (a group of economists from the University of Chicago) paternalized Pinochet into privatizing nearly everything and creating a free-market designed to benefit the US, the results have left Chile without a middle class. Many of Pinochet’s policies are still in play, and Chileans can feel it.

President Miguel Juan Sebastian Piñera was elected based on a centrist campaign. Now, he’s become another far-right leader in Latin America.

CREDIT: sebastianpinerae / Instagram

The “Chicago Boys” would become government officials in Pinochet’s dictatorship, and many of their contemporaries remain officials under Piñera’s administration. Everything is privatized, including water and social security, and it has become increasingly expensive for Chileans to simply buy their medications, pay their rising bills and live their life. Many of us can relate to rising living costs without any increase in wages or salaries. Chile is rising up.

While American media might be highlighting “violent protests” in Chile, the bulk of the violence is directed at the people from Chile’s government.

CREDIT: @JOVINOMAS / TWITTER

Last week, The New York Times reported on how an eye patch has exemplified the rising police brutality on Chileans. It’s become a symbol of protest. According to The New York Times, more than 285 Chileans have suffered severe eye trauma at the hands of Chilean law enforcement during protesters this month. “I felt an impact in my eye, and it all went black. I held up my hands so they would stop shooting and then laid on the ground, and they shot me three more times,” Brandon González, 19, who works as a hospital assistant told The New York Times. “I thought, they are going to kill me.” Even though Chileans know that their health is on the line, they’re still hitting the streets. 

Finally, President Piñera, who has a historic low 12 percent approval rating, admitted that the police were abusing citizens. “There was excessive use of force. Abuses and crimes were committed, and the rights of all were not respected,” the president said in a speech to the nation after reports of 22 deaths and more than 2,000 injuries.

Chile wants a new constitution, written by the people, instead of Pinochet.

CREDIT: @ALICHEAIB_ / TWITTER

While Piñera has announced that Chile would rewrite its Constitution, it feels like too little too late for many Chileans. They don’t trust government officials to represent the needs of the people, for fear the ultra-rich will influence the foundation of an entirely new government. “If the people want it, we will move toward a new constitution, the first under democracy,” Piñera said. We’ll see.

READ: Mon Laferte Goes Topless At 2019 Latin Grammys To Protest Violence In Chile

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Indigenous Purépecha Woman Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Attend Harvard

Things That Matter

Indigenous Purépecha Woman Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Attend Harvard

In just a few months, college freshmen will be descending on their campuses across the country. One of these students is Elizabeth Esteban who is the first person from her indigenous tribe in Mexico to be accepted to an Ivy League school.

Elizabeth Esteban is going to Harvard and it is a major deal.

Esteban is a member of the Purépecha tribe, an indigenous community from Michoacán, Mexico. Esteban is the first member of her tribe to be accepted into an Ivy League university, where indigenous representation remains small. Esteban’s parents work as farm laborers in the eastern Coachella Valley in California.

“Well I felt proud and excited, every sort of emotion because I never would have believed that a person like me, would be accepted to a prestigious university,” Esteban told NBC News.

Not only was Esteban accepted into Harvard, a prestigious university, she also received a full-ride scholarship. Esteban’s family is part of a community of hundreds of Purépecha people who relocated to the easter Coachella Valley in search of work and a better life.

Esteban plans to study political science.

Dr. Ruiz Speaks with State of the Union Guest, Elizabeth from Desert Mirage High School.

Join me for a live conversation with my guest for tonight's State of the Union, Elizabeth from Desert Mirage High School!

Posted by Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD on Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Esteban wants to make a difference in her community. As an indigenous woman, Esteban wants to break barriers that are set on women in her community. She told NBC News that her community expects for women to stay home and be stay-at-home mothers.

The incoming Harvard freshmen was discouraged from applying to Harvard at one point because of her community’s unreliable internet connection. Esteban lives in a mobile home with her family in Mecca and struggled to complete course work. The internet went down in the middle of her Harvard interview and it almost prevented her from applying to the university.

“Well, I felt proud and excited, every sort of emotion because I never would have believed that a person like me, would be accepted to a prestigious university,” Esteban told NBC News about being accepted to Harvard on a full scholarship.

READ: California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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