Things That Matter

In Chile, Hundreds of People Have Lost Their Eyes After Protesting Against Economic Inequality

On Sunday, crowds formed outside of the Chilean clinic where 21-year-old student Gustavo Gatica was staying. Standing together, the protesters waved Chilean flags and chanted: “El puebla está contigo”. The people are with you. The crowd gathered to support Gatica after he had permanently lost both of his eyes after being shot at close-range by rubber bullets. Unfortunately for Chileans, cases like these have become more and more common in recent weeks. Since mid-October, stories have abounded of Chilean protesters suffering permanent eye-sight loss at the hands of excessive police force.

According to the Chilean Red Cross, more than 2,500 people have been injured since October 18th when the protests started. Of that number, 400 of those injuries were caused by rubber bullets. According to the Salvador Hospital ophthalmology unit in Santiago, more than 140 people have suffered eye injuries since the begin of the protests. Some experts claim that the number is closer to 180 people. Officials say that of these numbers, 60% suffered a severe decrease in vision, while almost 30% were completely blind in one eye. In Chile, both doctors and health officials are calling the wave of injuries an “epidemic.” 

According to officials, the amount of eye-injuries that have been sustained by Chileans during these protests is unprecedented in the entire world.

“If you look at the statistics and compare them with complaints from France, Kashmir, Palestine, for example, they have much lower numbers,” said ophthalmologist Dr. Enrique Morales to The New York Times. “In just eight or nine days, we’ve surpassed numbers from any other medical reports of this kind of eye injury happening as a result of pellet gunshots. It’s a human rights catastrophe”. 

In Chile, the protests began on October 6th when subway fares increased, prompting an influx of turnstile-jumping as a form of protest. As police used force to crack down on the fare-dodgers, the public responded with more protests. From that point forward, everything snowballed. The fare increase became a symbol for everything Chileans were unhappy with, what The New York Times describes as “the rising cost of utilities, stagnant wages and paltry pensions” that made it difficult for lower and middle-class Chileans to flourish. “We don’t have good public health, the salaries are low,” 29-year-old publicist Jacinta Urivi told Al Jazeera. “There are so many things that act against the people, that they (the politicians) fill their pockets with”. 

As the maiming continues, the rest of the world has started to take notice of the government’s violence. 

On social media, people have started bringing attention to what some are calling “mutilations” through explicit pictures and videos. And according to The New York Times, international human rights organizations have begun to investigate the abuse. But the publicity is little solace to the protesters who will have to live the rest of their lives without their eyes. Pablo Verdigo, blinded in his left eye by a rubber bullet, told the New York Times that the loss of his eye “breaks his heart”. “Because you want to protest, for your kids,” he said through tears. “Not for this to happen.”

But Verdigo has no regrets about protesting against the government. Days later, he was back on the streets, marching against economic inequality.  “If we change something, this eye will be a triumph, not a loss.,” Verdigo told The Times. “That’s what I want. That losing my eye will be worth it”.

Throughout Twitter, the violence and mutilations have not gone unnoticed. 

People are using their social media platforms to bring awareness to the unprecedented violent blindings happening in Chile.

People are shocked that the armed forces are targeting such an integral part of the human experience: eyesight.

It seems like a systemic attempt to oppress the people by instilling fear in them.

Some people are bringing to light how the police brutality against Chileans is universal:

It seems that everyone is in danger.

This person believes that the Chilean government’s response to the protesters is undemocratic:

People should not be permanently maimed for exercising their fundamental right to peaceably assemble.

This man is documenting the myriad of injuries that Chilean protesters are sustaining at the hands of the police:

His Twitter feed proves the extent of the unprecedented police brutality. 

On Sunday, President Sebastián Piñera finally reacted to the violence by announcing he supported a new constitution.

While before,  Piñera claimed that Chile was “at war” with the protestors, calling them a “powerful enemy who is willing to use violence without limits”. But now, Piñera has announced that he is willing to draft the new constitution that protesters have been asking for, a response that has been met with almost universal skepticism. “Anyone who thinks that the current Congress can write down a new constitution may be fooling themselves,” says Senator Jose Miguel Insulza of Chile’s Socialist Party. “It may not have enough legitimacy”. 

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Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide


Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

Last week, Mexican feminist activists took over the National Human Rights Commissions federal building in a move to bring greater awareness to the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide that has racked Mexico for decades.

According to the federal Interior Secretariat, the statistics in Mexico have recently taken a turn for the worse.

Domestic violence against women has became an even more acute problem since the pandemic has forced women to stay insider with their abusers. Emergency distress calls reporting domestic violence have risen by 50%.

The occupation of the Human Rights building is just another chapter in the saga of the “Ni Una Menos” (Not One More Woman) movement, an anti-femicide collective born in Argentina that has steadily been gaining steam in Mexico since 2019.

In recent years, anti-femicide demonstrations have been sparked by various heinous crimes against women or girls that have been largely overlooked by law enforcement officials. 

Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the government of Mexico has appeared to be apathetic to the wave of femicide that is overwhelming the women of their country.

Recently, when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was asked to address Mexico’s gender violence epidemic, he demurred, stating that he didn’t “want femicide to detract” from the raffle his administration was holding for the sale of the presidential airplane.

As for the feminist activists at the heart of Ni Una Menos and the federal building occupation, the government’s failure to respond to anti-woman violence is the primary fuel for their anger. 

“We’re here so that the whole world will know that in Mexico they kill women and nobody does anything about it,” said Yesenia Zamudio to the LA Times. According to Zamudio, she is still seeking justice for the murder of her 19-year-old daughter four years ago.

The women of Mexico appear to be fed up, grasping at any and all tactics that have the potential to incite change on a grander scale.

Their tactics may seem dramatic to some, but it’s undeniable that they are no longer being ignored. As of now, the radical activists are pulling attention-grabbing stunts like decorating a portrait of Mexican Revolution leader Francisco Madero with lipstick and purple hair.

They’re also making headlines for vandalizing the federal building’s walls and splashing paint on the doors of the presidential palace.

One thing is for sure: something has to change. Otherwise, thousands of innocent women and girls will continue to be raped, abused, and murdered while their perpetrators escape with immunity. 

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Joe Biden Speaks Alongside ‘Fearless Fighter’ Kamala Harris In First Appearance And Recalls Her Family’s Immigrant Story


Joe Biden Speaks Alongside ‘Fearless Fighter’ Kamala Harris In First Appearance And Recalls Her Family’s Immigrant Story

Chip Somodevilla / Gettycc

After weeks of speculation and anticipation, presidential candidate Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he has officially picked his running mate.

In a history-making announcement, Biden revealed that he had tapped California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his VP Pick.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden announced in a tweet.

On Wednesday, Biden held his first campaign event alongside running mate Kamala Harris in Delaware.

During their speeches, the two candidates wore masks and kept their distance in keeping with COVID-19 standards.

Speaking about his VP pick, Biden described Harris as coming from an “America’s story.” Biden described Harris as “a child of immigrants” who “knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country as well as the challenges of what it means to grow up Black and Indian-American in the United States of America,” he explained. “And this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls that feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today — today just maybe they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way as president and vice presidents.”

In a speech of her own, Harris emphasized the importance of family and urged citizens to vote.  “We need a mandate that proves that the past few years do not represent who we are or who we aspire to be,” she said. “Joe likes to say that character is on the ballot. And it’s true,” she explained. “I’ve had a lot of titles over my career and certainly vice president will be great. But ‘Momala’ will always be the one that means the most.”

Harris’s nomination makes her the first Black and first Indian-American woman on either major party’s presidential ticket.

Harris is a former prosecutor from California who challenged Biden in her own presidential bid last year. Her nomination makes her the fourth woman to appear on a major presidential ballot. Before her, Geraldine Ferraro ran as a Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1984. In 2008, Republican Sarah Palin ran as a vice presidential nominee, later in 2016, Hillary Clinton became the Democratic presidential nominee.

Biden’s choice was one that has long been in the works. In March of this year, he revealed that he would make a point to have a woman as his running mate and in July he announced that he had narrowed his picks down to four Black women.

Kamala Harris was elected to Congress in 2016.

This has been Harris’ first term as a senator. Before, she served as the California attorney general. During her time as AG, Harris formed a lasting friendship with Biden’s late son Beau who was attorney general at the time in Delaware. Writing about Beau’s death, in her memoir The Truths We Hold, Harris recalled that “there were periods when I was taking the heat when Beau and I talked every day, sometimes multiple times a day,” she wrote in her memoir. “We had each other’s backs.”

Biden’s son Beau died in 2015 from brain cancer. Harris attended his funeral.

During his announcement, Biden mentioned Harris’ friendship with his son.

“I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse,” Biden tweeted. “I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

So far, it seems there are quite a bit of Harris x Biden supporters.

Fans were quick to give their support and applaud her candidacy.

In a tweet acknowledging her nomination, Harris wrote “@JoeBiden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals. I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”

Here’s to 2020 y’all. Get ready to make history.

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