Things That Matter

Chilean Opera Singer’s Song Touches Hearts Amidst Country State Of Emergency

Frustration over the now-suspended price hike on subway tickets in the Chilean city of Santiago erupted into widespread fury over three weeks ago. Unrest broke out in the country as anger over Chile’s economic inequalities.  Despite its status as one of the most prosperous and stable countries in Latin America, many Chilean citizens have experienced the weight of quickly rising living costs, skyrocketing debt and corruption. Now, violent protests which have resulted in the deaths of over 20 people, have upended Chile putting it in a state of pause as military personal have descended on the streets and the Chilean government has enacted a curfew.  

In a peaceful show of protest, Chilean opera singer Ayleen Jovita Romero, a soprano, performed a heartrending rendition of “El Derecho de Vivir en Paz,” or “The Right to Live in Peace.” In recent decades the song, first released in 1971, has become the country’s national song of protest.

A viral video of Romero has been making the rounds this week after her October 21 performance was shared online.

The video shows Romero putting on a performance of the song on a balcony during the government-imposed curfew which was started after days of clashes amongst protestors and police in Santiago. Since the video’s posting online, it has been viewed over millions of times across the globe and has drawn attention to Chile’s economy-related clashes.

For the past three weeks, Chile has experienced mass protests across the country and specifically in its capital city. 

Spurned by the country’s rising costs of living, the violent protests have resulted in at least 20 deaths and approximately $300 million in damages. On October 18, the government made the decision to declare that it was in a state of emergency and imposed a curfew on Santiago and nearby areas. As of now, the curfew still remains and citizens are required to be inside of their residences from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m.

Speaking about her now-viral performance, Romero shared with Instagram users her reasons for sharing her son.

“We are demonstrating in a peaceful manner during this curfew, all of the neighbors here are supporting the cause, singing and playing their beautiful instrument,” she wrote in a post to her Instagram page. “I invite other artists to do the same in their homes, the people appreciate it and it does them well ❤️ It’s necessary.”

Romer’s performance received a positive and support reaction from the city and those who were lucky enough to witness her sing the song. 

In a video captured by Ernesto Pinto and shared by the Facebook group El Canto Nuevo de Chile, Romero can be seen singing the song as onlookers watch quietly before breaking out into applause. Pinto’s clip was shared to Pinto’s clip was shared to Twitter by a user on Wednesday and has since been viewed over 4 million times.

“El Derecho de Vivir en Paz” has a significant history for the Chilean people. 

The song, which was first recorded and released by beloved folk singer and political activist Víctor Jara was released in 1971. It was originally written in protest of the Vietnam War and was dedicated to the Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh. The song took on a new and significant meaning in 1973 when the Pinochet regiment took power of Chile and Victor Jara was publicly tortured in front of prisoners for his support of President Salvador Allende. 

Speaking to CNN about her performance, Romero said that she felt that “It was very sad to see how the streets were getting empty. It made me feel helpless, and the first thing I did was to put on the song, ‘El derecho de vivir en paz,’ of Victor Jara. She went onto say that she” came out on the balcony to sing for the people. Never thinking this would go viral. It was beautiful, as people were silent during the song.”

When she was done and listeners broke out into cheers, the song began again with more musicians and singers joining in. “More musician neighbors joined, each one with his part — a violinist, an accordionist, and another singer made all the neighbors sing,” the opera singer told CNN. “It was beautiful and emotional.”

Speaking to CNN about her performance, Romero said that she felt that “It was very sad to see how the streets were getting empty. It made me feel helpless, and the first thing I did was to put on the song, ‘El derecho de vivir en paz,’ of Victor Jara. She went onto say that she” came out on the balcony to sing for the people. Never thinking this would go viral. It was beautiful, as people were silent during the song.”

When she was done and listeners broke out into cheers, the song began again with more musicians and singers joining in. “More musician neighbors joined, each one with his part — a violinist, an accordionist and another singer made all the neighbors sing,” the opera singer told CNN. “It was beautiful and emotional.”

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Watch the Stunning Video of the Total Eclipse that Plunged Argentina and Chile Into Darkness

Things That Matter

Watch the Stunning Video of the Total Eclipse that Plunged Argentina and Chile Into Darkness

Photo by MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of observers gathered in parts of Chile and Argentina on Monday to witness a rare and stunning total solar eclipse. The natural phenomenon is the second solar eclipse to be visible in Chile in the last 18 months.

Because of the perfect timing this time around, this year’s eclipse was especially breathtaking.

The sky got especially dark this year because this eclipse occurred both during the summer in the Southern Hemisphere and closer to the middle of the day. The sun was higher in the sky, making the change from lightness to darkness especially stark.

A solar eclipse happens when the earth, the moon and the sun are in total alignment. It’s a phenomenon that is actually rare in most solar systems. Our solar system is unique in that our moon is the perfect size to be able to block out the sun.

Thousands of people traveled hundreds of miles, some even camping out over night to get the chance to observe the rare phenomenon. The biggest crowds gathered in the Araucanía region 500 miles south of Santiago, Chile’s capital. The gatherers were wearing face masks and special protective glasses so they could watch the eclipse without damaging their eyes.

Photo by MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images

The solar eclipse had special significance for the Mapuche indigenous community in Chile.

“In Mapuche culture the eclipse has different meanings — they talk about ‘Lan Antu’, like the death of the sun and the conflict between the moon and the sun,” said Estela Nahuelpan, a leader in the indigenous Mateo Nahuelpan community, to the Agence France-Presse (AFP). “It refers to the necessary balance that has to exist in nature.”

In Mapuche legend, during a solar eclipse, the the sun temporarily dies when it battles against an unknown evil force known as “Wekufu”. Indigenous expert Juan Nanculef told the AFP that the Mapuche people used to light bonfires and throw stones and arrows into the sky to help the sun in its fight against Wekufu.

In days past, the Mapuche community would consider an eclipse like this a bad omen. There is still a bit of superstition that lingers around the phenomenon. A man named Diego Ancalao, who is a member of the Mapuche community, told CBS News that the last solar eclipse in 2019 was followed by civil unrest in Chile as well as a global pandemic.

Here’s to hoping that this eclipse is a sign of all of the good times ahead!

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A Chilean Police Officer Is Charged With Attempted Murder After Throwing a Protestor Off Of a Bridge

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A Chilean Police Officer Is Charged With Attempted Murder After Throwing a Protestor Off Of a Bridge

Photo by Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

Earlier this month, a police officer in Santiago, Chile was captured on video pushing a 16-year-old male demonstrator off of a bridge. The boy fell into the canal below, fracturing his wrist and suffering head trauma. He was transported to the hospital and is in stable condition.

The violent video sparked an additional wave of protests against the Carabineros–Chile’s militarized national police force that the officer was a part of.

Before the video surfaced, witnesses who were protesting voiced their anger at the police officer’s actions and demanded that he be brought to justice. Initially, a spokesperson for the Carabineros, General Enrique Monrás, denied any wrongdoing on the part of the officer, claiming that the boy “lost balance and fell”.

Monrás claimed the police force even had footage that refuted the purported events. But when the footage of the boy being pushed over the bridge went public, there was no question as to what happened.

The footage of the incident went viral in Chile, prompting a surge of demonstrations and protests in Santiago–a city already racked with civil unrest.

CLAUDIO REYES/AFP via Getty Images)

Days later, Chile opened up an investigation against the police officer, saying the officer “gave false information to the Prosecutor’s Office” and had “abandoned the victim” after throwing him off the bridge. The officer’s lawyer says he was following procedure. Nevertheless, by then the damage had been done.

Following the incident, protestors threw red die into the canal, making it look like it was running red with the metaphorical blood of protestors. The protests are part of an ongoing civil unrest that was sparked by economic inequality in Chile as well as President Sebastián Piñera’s failure to address the people’s concerns.

To make matters worse, the Piñera government has responded to the protests with excessive violence.

In the last year, Chile has been making headlines for permanently blinding protestors with rubber bullets. Protestors claim that Caballeros are deliberately shooting people in the eyes, aiming to blind them for life.

This most recent incident has simply served to bolster the protestors’ claims that they are being treated brutally by the Chilean government. “The police are violent. We can’t bear it anymore,” said a protestor named Carmen Soria to Al Jazeera News. “They’ve raped, tortured, run people over, blinded others, and now, they’re throwing people in the Mapocho river. The government doesn’t want us to protest, doesn’t want us to gather together, but they don’t care that we gather in the busses and in subways like sardines to go to work.”

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