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.”

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

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

MonLaferte / Instagram

Mon Laferte stunned everyone on the red carpet of the 2019 Latin Grammys in Las Vegas last night. The 36-year-old singer-songwriter and winner of Best Alternative Music Album appeared topless to make a political statement about police brutality in Chile. 

There have been violent protests in Chile after the government announced a new hike in subway fares during a time when wealth inequality has left many Chileans wanting. No doubt, Mon Laferte’s move was attention-grabbing — she’s making headlines and bringing the struggle of her people to the public’s attention in the process. 

Mon Laferte bares it all to make an important statement. 

Laferte appeared on the red carpet wearing a long black trench coat with black pants and a green bandana tied around her neck. She stunned photographers when she stepped forward, opened her coat, and revealed that she was completely topless. Written across her decollete in capitalized letters was “En Chile Torturan Violan Y Matan,” or “In Chile, they torture, rape, and kill.” 

On Instagram, she captioned a photo with her nipples censored to meet Instagram’s nudity guidelines, “My free body for a free country.” In another pose, Laferte shared that Instagram banned the hashtag #monlaferte because photos of her bare breasts circulated on the social platform. 

Laferte won Best Alternative Music Album for the album Norma. She dedicated the award to Chile in her speech. 

“I want to thank my colleagues … and especially to the public, the people, the fans that are there; without people nothing could happen,” the “El Beso” singer said. 

Laferte released a new protest single with Guaynaa, “Plata Ta Tá.”

Laferte’s new single with Puerto Rican artist Guaynaa, “Plata Ta Tá” is about fighting for your rights. The single artwork is a censored photo of her breasts. 

 “This generation has the revolution, with their cell phone they have more power than Donald Trump,” Laferte sings on the track. 

The reggaeton track is an anthem sure to get you hyped at the next protest.  “Go out, go out / go fight, go fight / Let’s make the world listen,” Guaynaa chants in his verse. 

Chileans protest the government’s increase in subway fares. 

Chileans began demonstrating against the government’s subway fare hike in October, but things quickly escalated as police began to use force, killing at least 20 people so far. One million people took to the streets of one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America to protest economic inequality. 

“The promise that political leaders from the left as well as right have made for decades — that free markets would lead to prosperity, and prosperity would take care of other problems — has failed them,” according to the New York Times

Protests have gone on for weeks. President Sebastián Piñera decided against the fare increase but he also deployed the military on civilians for the first time since the country became a democracy in 1990. The protest continued and the President promised better social programs on TV, but the demonstrators were not convinced. 

Violence has escalated in Chile with reports from the Associated Press saying police have begun shooting protestors in the eyes with shotgun pellets. At least 230 people, according to the country’s main medical body, have lost sight after being shot in the eye while demonstrating last month. At least 50 people will need prosthetic eyes. 

 “This means that the patient doesn’t only lose their vision, but they lose their actual eye,” said Dr. Patricio Meza, vice president of the Medical College of Chile. “We are facing a real health crisis, a health emergency given that in such few days, in three weeks, we have had the highest number of cases involving serious ocular complications due to shots in the eye.” 

Chile’s congress agreed to reform the country’s constitution. 

Today, Chile’s congress agreed to reform the nation’s constitution in hopes of ending the ongoing protests that have been run amuck with police brutality. “This has become possible thanks to the citizens who have been mobilized,” Chilean Senate President Jaime Quintana announced at a news conference in Santiago today. 

Quintana promised the new constitution would “build a true social contract” that would be “100 percent democratic,” according to CNN. The referendum will ask voters if the current constitution, created in 1980 by the dictator Augusto Pinochet, should be replaced. 

“This agreement is a first step, but it is a historic and fundamental first step to start building our new social pact, and in this, the citizenry will have a leading role,” said Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel.

There will be different models for the body proposed. Voters will be asked if they prefer the body consist of elected representatives, political appointees, or a mix of both, according to Al Jazeera. Whether the new promises will be enough to satisfy the unrest in Chile will remain to be seen. 

Two People Die As A Driver Plows His Car Through A Crowd Of Protesters In Chile

Things That Matter

Two People Die As A Driver Plows His Car Through A Crowd Of Protesters In Chile

@graphenes1 / Twitter

From Haiti and Puerto Rico to Ecuador and, now, Chile, communities around the world are standing up against policies that they view as contributing to growing income inequality.

After Chile’s President had announced a planned increase in public transit fares, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to announce their opposition to the plan. Chile has already been combating extreme income inequality and a growing cost of living that has outpaced wage growth, making Chile one of the most expensive Latin American countries to live in.

For many Chileans, news of a planned fare increase was one step too far.

Chile becomes the latest nation to rise up against neo-liberal policies that many feel are causing growing income inequality.

Credit: @BorisVanderSpek / Twitter

The protest by students began on Monday when hundreds of people entered several stations in Santiago, jumping over or dipping under turnstiles to protest a 4% increase in subway fares from about US$1 to US$1.16. Chile doesn’t produce its own oil and must import its fuel, leading to high prices for gasoline, electricity and elevated public transportation costs.

Officials said the hike was necessary due to the rising costs of fuel and maintenance as well as the devaluation of Chile’s peso currency.

By the end of the week the protests had turned violent with students breaking gates, shattering glass and throwing debris onto the electrified rails. The situation further deteriorated when some seven stations were set on fire, bank branches and supermarkets attacked and the country’s main electricity company headquarters building was set on fire.

On Friday, the Santiago Metro said it had stopped operating all six lines due to damage until at least Monday, stranding thousands of commuters.

The massive demonstration and police response has resulted in widespread destruction, arrests, and even death.

In response to the protests, the government deployed more than 10,500 officers to the ground and there are reports of more than 1,400 arrests.

Officials in the Santiago region said three people had died in fires at two looted supermarkets early on Sunday. Sixty Walmart-owned outlets were vandalised, and the company said many stores did not open during the day. Five more people were later found dead in the basement of a burned warehouse and were not employees, authorities said.

At least two airlines cancelled or rescheduled flights into the capital, affecting more than 1,400 passengers Sunday and Monday.

Many people were upset at the language used by the President to describe the massive resistance.

“We are at war with a powerful, relentless enemy that respects nothing or anyone and is willing to use violence and crime without any limits,” the president, Sebastián Piñera, said on Sunday in an unscheduled speech from the military headquarters.

To many, the language he used just deepened the divide between normal, every day Chileans and those with money and power. The President called protesters criminals and blamed them for clashes with military forces. His choice of words seemed to fan the flames of resistance and empowered those already on the streets.

Meanwhile, the President himself is a billionaire conservative who served as president between 2010 and 2014 before taking office again in March 2018, is facing the worst crisis of his second term.

On Saturday night, he announced he was cancelling a subway fare rise imposed two weeks ago. 

After meeting the heads of the legislature and judicial system earlier on Sunday, Piñera said they discussed solutions to the crisis and that he aimed “to reduce excessive inequalities, inequities abuses, that persist in our society”.

Jaime Quintana, the president of the senate, said “the political world must take responsibility for how we have come to this situation”.

However, the protests don’t seem to be slowing down.

Monday is likely to see a resumption of the protests seen over the weekend, with many banks, schools, and shops expected to remain closed.

Authorities said just one line of the city’s metro was expected to reopen Monday after the entire system was closed Friday because of the damage caused during the protests.

Pinera has appealed for calm. During his televised address on Sunday, he said there were good reasons to take to the streets, but asked for those doing so “to demonstrate peacefully” adding that “nobody has the right to act with brutal criminal violence.”

But Pinera’s appeal may have come too late.

“The protests are more than just about fare increase,” Boris Van Der Spek, founder of the independent news website Chile Today, told Al Jazeera. “It is about the cost of living and the level of inequality in the country. There is so much discontent in Chile. This was always going to happen one way or another.”