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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