Chilean crisis: How to return to “normal” if the blood hasn’t yet dried

Report by Cecilia Ananías Soto and Karen Vergara Sánchez,
journalists from Amaranta NGO.

Translation by Cecilia Ananías with the support of Natalia Bórquez and DeepL.

Main photo: Kena Lorenzini.

This article was written on Tuesday, October 29 and we are counting the crisis since Saturday, October 19, when different cities of the country joined the mobilizations. However, the protests began the day before in Santiago.

Ten days ago, social discontent in Chile erupted in the form of screams, pots and pans and barricades, mobilizing millions of people. It was thus that “the jaguar of Latin America,” as Chilean economists in the 1990s described our country, took off its mask, revealing that it was only a place where inequality accumulated under the carpet, in the face of the passivity of its inhabitants and the blindness of its authorities.

The mobilizations exploded with tremendous force, before an astonished Government, being qualified by the First Lady, Cecilia Morel as “something alien”. The first response from the authorities was to declare a state of emergency and bring police and military forces onto the streets, in direct confrontation with the protesters, who were victims of gunfire and strong repression by the Chilean police, Carabineros.

Less than three days of state of emergency had passed and the president himself, Sebastián Piñera, affirmed that it was “a war”, even if the enemy only held signs, spoons and pots. The balance of this decision: 20 people killed (information corroborated so far), more than 3,500 people detained, 1,100 people injured, according to information from the government and reports from the National Institute of Human Rights, until the morning of Tuesday, October 29. In addition to these figures, the Children’s Ombudsman indicates that 19 children and adolescents were hit by pellets, 18 were victims of physical damage and more than 240 were detained.

But that did not stop the mobilizations: in spite of the tiredness of the continuous marches and the fear and anguish of the repression, on Friday, October 25, it was possible to call for the largest march in Chile, which gathered more than 1.2 million people, only in the capital; a scenario that was repeated in regions and cities throughout the territory. The streets were overflowing with protest, in postcards that will go down in history. This proved that, in spite of the continuous attempts to criminalize the demonstrations, they continue to be representative of the unease that afflicts all Chileans: the profound need for a dignified life, where every social right isn’t privatized. The mobilizations have been described as the most summoning after the plesbite that ended with the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

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The “oasis” became a Dictatorship: Repression, murders and torture mark the protests for a decent life in Chile

Report of the journalists from NGO Amaranta, Karen Vergara and Cecilia Ananías.
Translated by the lawyer Natalia Bórquez and Cecilia Ananías.

Chile “is a real oasis with a stable democracy”, said President Sebastián Piñera at the beginning of October in the “Mucho Gusto” program of Mega -a national channel-, after being consulted about the crisis that plagued Peru and Ecuador. Only ten days after pronouncing this phrase, the protests that broke out in Santiago and then became widespread throughout the territory made it clear that the oasis was nothing more than a mirage. 

Although the protests began with calls from the students to avoid paying the Metro ticket, given a new price increase, it has not been the only demand for a long time: “It is not for 30 pesos, it is for 30 years”, they exclaim in the streets. Seguir leyendo