Listen to the Episode — 163 min
Alanis: 1 de Noviembre, November 1st, Evade y resiste!, evade and resist!
Clara: Welcome back to Radio Evasión: Bilinigual dispatches from Santiago rebelde, with the first half in English…
Alanis: Y en Español a partir del medio del episodio.
Clara: Brought to you by the Ex-Worker podcast.
Alanis: I’m Alanis
Clara: And I’m Clara. This episode, we wanted to step away from the center of Santiago, where conflictual marches full of flaming barricades, endless graffiti, and thousands of masked encapuchados fill the streets almost every day. Instead, we wanted to show how the revolt has spread out to self-organized activity in the neighborhoods, so we’re bringing you interviews about the demonstrations popping up far from the center, the cacerolazos, the communal kitchens, the community schools and social centers, the popular assemblies, and how this network of organization is supporting the protests and deepening the social impact of the uprising here in Chile.
Alanis: We’re still looking for help with translation, specifically anyone who “cacha” Chilean slang, po. Help transcribing in either English or Spanish would also be amazing. Just holler at firstname.lastname@example.org
And feel free to send us feedback or ideas of what you’d like to hear from comrades on the ground in Santiago. Check out our website to find a full English and partial Spanish transcript of this episode, with shownotes and links to more info.
Update since last episode
Clara: And now, let’s get up to speed with everything that’s happened since our last episode.
Last Friday, October 25, over a million people filled Plaza Italia in the largest demonstration yet. Chile’s population is 19 million…meaning more than 5 fucking percent of the country was in attendance. The demonstration was somewhat of a Rorschach—everyone saw something they liked about it. There were confrontations for those who wanted to see it as a combative step forward, there was a big presence of Chilean flags and a call for a new constitutional assembly, and even the right-wing billionaire President was forced to pretend like he was moved by the protest. Check out this tweet,
“The situation of public order is systematically getting better. Yesterday was an example to follow: over a million people demonstrating peacefully, expressing their point of view and sending a message with force and eloquence but without violence…it filled me with happiness…I believe we have heard the message and have changed with a new attitude and will to go forward towards a Chile that is not as insensitive to injustice, abuse, and inequality.”
Alanis: Classic politician doublespeak bullshit. The demonstration was far from peaceful—people lit fire the entrances of the Baquedano metro station, going especially hard on the entrance where one demonstrator, in a media scandal that made headlines, accused the police of torturing him. Police shot teargas and birdshot pellets and water cannons at the crowd, who justly defended themselves and attacked the police. But, of course, he has to say it was peaceful. Why? To me, it sounds like President Piñera took a page out of the CrimethInc. text The Illegitimacy of Violence, the Violence of Legitimacy. Specifically, this page, “When a broad enough part of the population engages in resistance, the authorities have to redefine it as nonviolent, even if it would previously have been considered violent. Otherwise, the dichotomy between violence and legitimacy might erode—and without that dichotomy, it would be much harder to justify the use of force against those who threaten the status quo. By the same token, the more ground we cede in what we permit the authorities to define as violent, the more they will sweep into that category, and the greater risk all of us will face.”
Clara: Yup, Piñera is definitely trying to re-legitimize the political sphere—that is, the state—as the protagonist of change. To that end, he’s been rolling out some weak sauce reforms that have left no one satisfied. On Saturday, October 26, he lifted the state of emergency and curfew. He also changed a few cabinet members and some complicated and not that substantial economic reforms. In response, the writing on the wall literally reads “No Queremos Migajas!” “We don’t want tablescraps.”
Alanis: On Sunday, things quieted down a little bit, leading to some anxiety in the movement that things might in fact return to normal. The Metro, after all, began to run once again, albeit at a limited capacity. But new slogans began to circulate on social media, “Nothing will be the same again,” and “This isn’t going to stop.” Soon there were calls to follow up Friday’s “Biggest March in Chile,” with the “Biggest March to La Moneda,” which has given way to daily conflict up and down Alameda, the central boulevard traversing Santiago, on which both La Moneda and Plaza Italia are located. Parts of the protests are taking on somewhat of a carnaval atmosphere, with soccer hooligan barras bravas pounding out drum corps beats, and as it gets closer to Halloween more and more costume masks are replacing bandanas—especially Joker masks. Speaking of the masks, an informal street economy has started to pop up on Alameda, with vendors selling lemons to help withstand teargas, bandanas and masks, and plenty of water and, well, beer. The state of emergency and military imposed curfew last week really hurt working people’s wallets, especially those who work in nighttime, restaurant, or informal sectors. As much as Chile is toted as the poster child for neoliberal free market success, street selling is still illegal and many vendors, being immigrants or otherwise legally precarious, couldn’t risk getting busted while the law was out in force, so the demonstrations are a somewhat safe area to sell some cheap swag and make a little bit of money.
Demonstrators’ tactics have advanced, and demands have radicalized. Every day there are more proper gas masks instead of bandanas. More use of Molotov cocktails as well, which have decreased in usage over the last few years thanks to the last president’s updated Arms Control Law, which imposes heavier sentences for the use of Molotovs. There’s more first aid stations, human rights observers, and teargas canister extinguishers too—the teargas people carry around big jugs of water and just submerge the canister in them. The demands are radicalizing too. What kicked everything off was the fare increase during rush hour, which the government quickly discarded. From there people protested against the state of emergency, then calling for Piñera to step down, and now there is messaging everywhere for a new Constitutional Assembly. Chile’s current constitution comes straight from the hands of fascists who wrote it in 1980 under the military dictatorship. It has been amended and updated since, but many if not most on the Chilean left reject its legitimacy. Anarchists, of course, reject its legitimacy too, but because we reject the legitimacy of any government, and Chile has been an excellent example of how blurry the line between democracy and dictatorship really is as long as all power and authority is invested in the hands of the state. But, more on that later.
Finally, one indicator of how strong the demonstrations have continued to be is that on Wednesday, October 30, the president cancelled the upcoming APEC conference, a major trade conference between Asian and North and South American countries, where Trump was planning on signing a major trade deal with China. The cancellation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit scheduled for November 16 in Chile is a historic event. This is only the third time in the past three decades that we can recall a major world trade summit being canceled as a result of anti-capitalist demonstrations. The demonstrations in Seattle 1999 shut down the summit of the World Trade Organization in Seattle via direct action, blockading intersections around the conference center to make it impossible for the delegates to reach it. And shortly before the June 2001 World Bank conference scheduled for Barcelona, World Bank officials announced the cancellation of the conference in light of the threats of the upcoming protests. Though little remembered, this cancellation may have marked the true apex of the so-called “anti-globalization” movement, and the fact that demonstrators in Chile have been able to prevent a capitalist trade summit is truly remarkable.
From Civil Disobedience to Popular Insurrection: A Reflection on Revolt and State Repression in the Chilean Region
Clara: Whew… Thanks Alanis, that was a whirlwind of an update. But before we begin with the interviews I wanna touch on one more thing now that you brought up the relationships of anarchists to the rest of the left and this movement. Not all of the interviews in this episode are with anarchists. Some of the interviews are just people who are angry and filled with the motivation to defend their rights, or for the president to step down, or for a Constitutional Assembly. However, just to give an idea of the reach of anarchist ideas here, we told every interviewee about the podcast and that it was an anarchist program before starting the interviews, and without exception every single person nodded their head and said, “good” or “great” or “hell yeah.” I just wanted to mention it to not misrepresent everyone we interview as anarchist, or that their ideas represent the anarchist movement. We’ve just been focusing on the most inspiring activity we come across.
But we’ve also been following the communiqués and analysis written by anarchists in the region. Let’s kick the episode off with one of the best short analyses we’ve read yet, it’s titled, “From Civil Disobedience to Popular Insurrection: A Reflection on Revolt and State Repression in the Chilean Region,” and you can find it in it’s original Spanish at the anarchist counter-info site, LaPeste.org:
Neoliberalism is dying in the Chilean region, and it wants to take us with it. The rage that has accumulated for decades found its spark in the raise in metro fares, and now has extended throughout different territories controlled by the Chilean State. Its not strange, therefore, that acts of sabotage, looting, and fires are being directed towards the infrastructure and institutions that represent the Chilean elite, which exploit millions of people on a daily basis.
Even as the police state grew implacably with new repressive legislation—the last decade saw the worsening of the antiterrorist law of 2011 as well as a law that criminalized weapon possession in 2015, along with the installment of the identification control law in 2016 and “Aula Segura” or “secure hallways” law in 2018, which was aimed at placing police in schools and repressing student activities—the protests, primarily by students, never ceased, despite facing the intensity of criminalization of whoever denounced the systematic violence of the state and market. The massive fare evasions that began with the new raise in metro fare—the fourth such increase in two years—ended up unmasking the fascism and arrogance of the conservative political class. From the beginning this class mocked the rage in the streets and threatened to apply martial law and declare an official state of emergency in practically the entire territory, in order to unleash a wave of extreme repression, one that hadn’t been seen since the times of the dictatorship.
The paradise of neoliberal consumption has again been defended by a military with force of arms, punishing disobedience with several deaths, hundreds of wounded, and thousands of arrests. These forces have violated the dignity of those struggling in the streets with exceptional torture, using kidnapping and political and sexual violence in numerous instances. State forces are applying, in this new context, the methods of counter-insurgency in order to reimpose fear and put the brakes on the social insurrection, all to protect private property, especially privileging the defense of multinational and corporate property (like supermarkets, pharmacies, malls, etc.) and State institutions over the lives of people, reminding us once again of its function as the defender of the privileges of the powerful.
In spite of this growing wave of violence perpetrated by the military and police, the neighborhoods and communities have responded with bravery and dignity, tirelessly confronting these repressive forces, taking the streets again and again with barricades and attacks on the institutions and symbols of power. Society does not believe the official narrative coming from those who have robbed us for decades, pushed forth by a government using a psychological war of criminalization in the media against the legitimate demands of an exhausted people. Society has finally begun to see with clarity the machinery of an unequal social and economic system on the edge of collapse.
It’s important to remember that the current revolt has brought together a variety of demands on the part of the most marginalized communities and neighborhoods in the region, in which earlier catalysts can be identified in the mochilazo, or backpack protests, of 2001 that have continued with several protests in recent decades, the “penguin revolution” (a student rebellion) in 2006, the hunger strike by indigenous Mapuche political prisoners in 2010, student mobilizations against the privatization of education in 2011, the uprising in Aysén in 2012, protests by small fishermen against the fishing law in 2012, the uprising in Chiloé in 2016, protests against the privately managed social security fund, or AFP, in 2016, the revolución feminista of 2018, and the revolt against the environmental crisis in Puchuncaví-Quintero in 2018, just to name a few.
We believe it’s necessary to confront the apparatus of the police state, without illusions, and take the side of the fallen without raising the white flag, confronting the attacks of the state from all possible positions. It’s time again to find each other in our territories and communities, rebuild trust in the fire of the barricades and cacerolazos, in order to rid ourselves of this ecocidal and self-destructive system, and instead forge self-determination and recover our freedom, so that the terminal crisis of neoliberalism, in its Chilean version, does not take us down us with it. We must avoid the imposition of fascism upon our spaces, and seize the time now, more than ever, to attack capital.
Revolt is appearing right now in many different territories: Ecuador, Honduras, Hong Kong, and France are all visible examples of organization and resistance to the universal pain brought by capitalism’s extermination of millions of forms of life for centuries. The options are simple: revolution or extinction. Grupo Solenopsis October 2019 Santiago, Región chilena
Interview 26 October: Cacerolazo in Puente Alto
Alanis: Now let’s hear from the people in the streets. Our first interview took place on Saturday, October 26 with an anarchist from Puente Alto, 21 kilometers from Plaza Italia. It is one of the furthest municipalities from the center of Santiago and also one of the poorest. The metro station in Puente Alto, Elisa Correa, has been burnt multiple times since the revolt began, and during the days of the curfew people occupied it by the hundreds—banging pots and pans in cacerolazos and taking over the tracks and platforms. By the time we got there the occupations of the metro station had ended, but there were still banners hanging on the station’s gates with slogans like, “if going back to normal means going back to misery, we prefer chaos.” We walked around and came across a spontaneous cacerolazo, one of many on the first night in a week without a curfew, which the government had only lifted that day.
Interviewer: So, where are we and what’s happening? Puente Alto Anarchist: This is Puente Alto, on the corner of Mexico Ave and Los Toros, and this is a cacerolazo, a pots and pans demonstration. Interviewer: And what are all those candles over there for? Puente Alto Anarchist: They’re a memorial that the people from this neighborhood made for the people who have died in the past few days. All the people who have died in the revolt, the people who have been killed by cops, or in other situations, because people here haven’t just been killed by police but also by people from their same class. They’ve been shot because of that those on top have convinced us below that we’re enemies among ourselves. Interviewer: And who organized this? How did you find it? Puente Alto Anarchist: It’s totally spontaneous. This has been happening since the first days of the revolt. The people feel a need to come out and demonstrate what they feel, their discontent, because the living conditions here are very precarious. Above all in these areas on the periphery of Santiago, so far from the center. These are the major centers of poverty, marginality, and alienation. Interviewer: And has this cacerolazo been the only thing going on in Puente Alto today? Puente Alto Anarchist: No, this area has been organized for a many years. This corner here has historically been a corner of barricades. Always. For all the special dates here, there are barricades—big and beautiful. And lots of people come out to represent. There are lots of really emotional situations among the residents. And of course it’s not the only thing that’s going on; right now there’s this cacerolazo, but earlier today we had a neighborhood assembly, and a little while ago, for September 11th, the anniversary of the Pinochet coup, we had a march… There are many organizations getting active in this area, in different ways. Interviewer: So this being now the eighth day of fighting, do you think the activity is dying down, or changing? How is it going? Puente Alto Anarchist: Yeah, it’s changing, because before, a bunch of people gathered here and blocked traffic. Today we can see that traffic isn’t being blocked. There are still a lot of people, but it’s different. The other day there were barricades and people in the middle of the street. So the actions people are taking are evolving a bit, but it feels like the discontent isn’t over. There’s a discontentment that’s still here, from everyone. Interviewer: Anything else to add from here, from Puente Alto? Puente Alto Anarchist: This is a highly organized place and hopefully it continues to be that way, because interesting things are being done. I think it’s a good place to sow the seed of rebellion and the desire to do new things in this territory. Interviewer: Thank you! Puente Alto Anarchist: You’re welcome, thank you.
Interview 28 October: Downtown in the teargas with an anti-authoritarian legal worker
Alanis: After “Chile’s biggest march” last Friday, there were calls for “La Moneda’s biggest protest” on Monday, October 28, La Moneda being the White House of Chile. Already by noon there was conflict developing in front of the presidential palace, but police repressing hard to keep people from reaching it. We caught up with an anti-authoritarian legal worker on the streets while teargas whizzed by and our media activists had to shield their microphones from water shot from the Guanaco water cannons. Forgive us for the pause in the middle of the interview, but we were rudely interrupted by the pacos culiaos.
Interviewer: Hello, good afternoon, it’s Monday and we’re in another march on Alameda, and who are we speaking with?
Julio: Well, my name is Julio. I’m an antiauthoritarian compañero and I work in Human Rights, which is why we’re here registering the political violence in this march.
Interviewer: And there’s a very recent development today, October 28 regarding Human Rights, correct?
Julio: They sent a commission from the United Nations which is going to be here for almost a month monitoring infringements on human rights- we think that, thanks to this, today on top of lifting the state of emergency, there aren’t any military men on the streets, and thankfully the repression seems a little less intense than that of last week. Currently we’re seeing a peaceful march from Plaza Italia which is trying to reach La Moneda. They have been using very strong tear gas, I even had a 3M gas mask with new filters and at one point I couldn’t take it anymore and the gas was coming in anyways, but now they’re letting up a bit. I think this is due to the fact that they know they’re in the eye of the international community.
Interviewer: Over the weekend there was some anxiety from the big movement media accounts about whether all the protests would end with the lifting of Martial Law, for example Piensa Prensa was publishing things like “cabros, this still isn’t over,” and indeed, it looks like it’s still happening today, right?
Julio: It’s really complicated to say, like I said the other day, I strongly believe that you can witness that this whole rebellion, this true insurrection which has spread all over the country, the conditions have been building for a long time- 30 years of self-repression, of social control, etc. And finally, thanks to the mobilization of the high school students, who were the ones who were honestly being attacked by the state since the end of last year with laws like aulas seguras, or Secure Hallways in English, which allowed for immediate expulsion from school. Right before the insurrection blew up, the congress had just passed a law to be able to lower the age of identification control of teenagers, something that they previously couldn’t do legally- but did anyway.
And finally, a few days before everything kicked off there were some massive fare evasions in metros to get to the subway trains- something that in legal terms implies a fine for minors- less than that! A warning - it’s not a serious crime at all, but since they did it on such a massive scale, it disrupted all order in the system and resulted in the president and the minister of the interior, Chadwick, announcing the State Security law and decreeing a State of Emergency. So, a situation born out of a proletarian youth rebellion ended up spreading to the adults and became a whole social movement all over the country.
An additional aspect about this complex revolt is it started completely anarchic and still exists without leaders, without any permanent structure- although it’s also true that the traditional left and groups like the electoral coalition Frente Amplio now support the movement, but they try to impose their own terms on it- for example, they made an accusation of unconstitutionality against president Piñera in congress and there’s also their age old demand to have a new constitution through a constitutional assembly.
This complicated things, I was in the streets seeing what was happening with the plainly terroristic political repression on the front lines, but all of us anti-authoritarians, anarchists, and radical communists are also in the neighborhood assemblies. Whereas in the street, something I’ve seen really strongly represented is the discourse about the constitutional assembly, something that for us is, for anti-statists, it’s something that we don’t get involved in because it implies encapsulating the movement and rechanneling the it towards the state and re-legitimizing the state again- but it’s something that other factions of the social movement are demanding so it is part of the contradictions that we see in this process.
Interviewer: And can you tell us if you saw any of the mass evasions or tell us any stories from when the rebellion was developing?
Julio: Yeah, yeah! First there were some videos that were circulating a bunch and on Thursday, the day before the big rebellion of October 18th I found myself in the metro when a group of 60 or 70 young women, all of them in school uniforms, got there. Honestly the fare evasion was massive but also euphoric, happy, without destroying things. There weren’t any police there, just the metro guards, but there were also a handful of us adults who helped to make sure that the turnstiles didn’t close so the girls could enter without paying and the reaction of the people who were there in the metro was “wow, that was good.” And I think that’s what ended up being so dangerous—first, the students’ revolt was confined to the high schools, like the one right here on Alameda, the Instituto Nacional, but from there it began to threaten to extend to the rest of the population and gain sympathy from adults.
On Friday I was with some other human rights observers watching the mass evasion in the Los Heroes metro station and that’s where everything changed because the militarized police were there. They initiated the violence and there was an hour-long battle within the metro station, which spread to a lot more stations, and well, we saw what happened in the afternoon.
Julio: Right, so here we are again after a few… incidents.
Interviewer: Do you want to briefly describe these… incidents?
Julio: Yeah, so there are people protesting here on Alameda, the main street in Santiago, and the police are oppressing people with everything; tear gas shot straight at the body- up until now I haven’t seen them use rubber bullets at least, probably thanks to the UN presence and because we’re in the center. They detained a guy just for riding a bike, I went to see him in the police car.
The casualties of police violence so far include more than 21 killed and many injured. They’re saying that 100 people have lost their vision due to the most lethal weapon they have aside from live bullets—steel pellets. And almost no one has protection against those, so it causes eye loss on top of the tear gas canisters shot directly at people’s heads.
I also wanted to add to the scene that everything is mixed up and the movement continues to be anarchic, in a good way, but that the anarchists and libertarian communists are just a couple of the political currents within the whole thing. What worries us is that those in power are aware that the revolt on Friday wasn’t brought about by the traditional left or the Frente Amplio. So, everyone that’s listening from outside the country: I would ask them to pay attention to what is happening and support anarchists in the Chilean region because we all know that repression in the streets can affect anyone, but I think the political repression will primarily affect us anti-authoritarians and radicals.
Interviewer: I also had something else to ask- In comparison with the revolt in 2011 and the Penguin Revolution in 2006 how do you see what is happening now? Is it bigger? Or when was the last time you saw something like this happen here?
Julio: Look- I’m old enough to have participated in the protests against the Dictatorship, and although that was a big, strong movement it only took to the streets once or twice each month. There was also an enormous revolt in Santiago, Valparaiso, and Concepción in 1957—similarly over transportation prices and with an insurrectional character—but I don’t know anyone who remembers seeing anything this massive with the whole city involved and having lasted 10 days now, I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this. It’s kind of like May 68 in Paris, but saying that is kind of like, I dunno, comparing Green Day with Black Flag.
Interviewer: Well, anything else you want to add? Do you have a prediction for where this struggle is headed?
Julio: It’s really difficult to predict that, because I think that the strength of this comes from below, and that’s where we need to be. On the surface, it’s possible people stop hitting the streets. The president just convinced his entire cabinet to quit and they named some lesser evils to those positions. The left is being subjugated at the congressional level, but I think that considering the explosion of participation we’ve seen, and the fact that it’s been going on for 10 days, I don’t think it’ll stop for a good long while.
None of us know what’s going to happen so what we have to do is defend our old principles; direct action, self management, self-organization and above everything else we have social media which enable us to record and spread the brutality that demonstrates what we anarchists have been saying all along, that the state doesn’t need a dictatorship to exercise state terrorism. Terrorism is inherent to the state, because even without having the military in the street—which is a shocking image for Chileans, bringing back scenes of 1973—the police already have sufficient firepower to stop the revolution physically, but they haven’t managed to do it so far. And it has cost a lot of blood, and we’ll have to see what happens next. Honestly there is no clear perspective but I believe that the insurrection isn’t going to stop now, or within the next few days.
Interviewer: Thanks so much!
Julio: Thank you!
Interview 28 October: Coordinating Assembly of High School Students, ACES
Alanis: Later in the afternoon we left the center of Santiago and went down to Villa Olimpica, a neighborhood with a history of self-organization and rebellion, which has been resisting the curfew every night this week with flaming barricades and cacerolazos. We went to check out a festival of resistance. When we got there, we were blown away by the amount of activity—a couple thousand people in attendance, a neighborhood radio station, a community center with a regular Olla Común, or people’s kitchen, and bands playing cumbia, hiphop, punk, folk music, and reggae in the middle of the Villa’s concrete soccer court. Chilean pop star Princesa Alba even made an appearance, changing the chorus of her hit “Convéncete” to, “I upload a thousand stories all day, Just so I can hear you say, let’s run away from the cops someday.”
The fence around the soccer field donned banners reading, “For the dignity of our people,” “Villa Olimpica, an organized community and popular assembly,” and “We don’t fear their bullets or their guns, what we fear is that you will stop taking the streets, leaving the power in their hands.” The entire event was free of alcohol, which, despite being a true festival atmosphere, gave it a kind of militant, determined feel that differentiated itself even from the protests at Plaza Italia, where street vendors walk around selling cans of beer.
It was evident that there is a high level of radical, community organization going on in this neighborhood. To give just an example of what this looks like, the festival took place next to the corporate supermarket in the middle of the neighborhood. We were surprised to see what fine condition the outside of the store was in—no broken windows or torn up advertising, so we asked our contact there whether it had even been looted the previous week. She turned with a bewildered face and said, “uh, yeah, duh.” We explained it was just surprising that the place didn’t get trashed or burnt after the looting. She said, “well, yeah, that’s because if you burn it they get insurance money. The idea is to rob them, not make them richer, you know?”
Alanis: I know right? We had the privilege to speak with two high school students involved in ACES, one of the organizations that put the festival together, as well as the event’s MC, Kassandra Romanini.
Interviewer: Who are we talking to? And what’s happening where we are?
Victor: well, I’m Victor, spokesperson for the coordinating assembly of high school students, ACES.
Ayelen: I am Ayelen, and I’m also a spokesperson for ACES.
Victor: today we are gathered here at a kind of neighborhood concert to gather funds and food for the different neighborhoods that are mobilizing through out the country. This event includes spaces for graffiti, silk screening, selling of vegan food, live story telling for the little ones who maybe are not understanding what’s happening but also to explain to them the general context of mobilizations in Chile. There’s a food drive to distribute to the other territories where other people’s kitchens are taking place, there are artists who wanted to come here and share their music with political content and within the context of the protests. It’s a family and community environment, and the idea is to sustain ourselves so we can continue taking the streets and adding more strength to the protests. That’s the short summary of what’s happening here today.
Ayelen: The larger context is, at the national level, the people of Chile no longer believe the government. They don’t believe that the government will respond to the demands that are being presented, which is not just the price of the subway fare but also many other demands that have been ignored in the last years, and that’s why we are gathered today, because we know that the answer lies within organized communities, the territories, the ghettos, with the students…and all of us are who will find the answers right now.
Interviewer: Could you tell about what has been happening here in Villa Olimpica and how the struggle is spread out in different parts of Santiago.
Victor: Well, that has been one of the things about this mass mobilization, it has been in many neighborhoods, where it hasn’t been only the students on one side and workers on the other, but rather it has been all sectors who have come together to mobilize. Here the role of the neighborhood council of Villa Olimpica has been really important because besides letting us use the space to gather they have also been mobilizing people into the streets every day. Neighborhoods all over Chile have been mobilizing, with and without barricades, some with more and some with less people but we see that all mobilizations are adding something, as do the spaces for organizing that have appeared.
Interviewer: thanks. And could you tell me a little bit more about ACES?
Victor: It’s an organization of high school students, at the moment the youngest members are 13, going up to 18, which is the age people finish high school. We organize ourselves through assemblies and we have different working groups. We, Ayelen and I, are the two spokespeople. We’ve been organizing for many years now and generally the high school students are the ones who kick start the mobilization cycle, but this time it’s been all sectors of society and at the ACES we understand that we need to continue to maintain ties with other sectors.
Interviewer: cool, and anything else to add?
Victor: well, today we understand that it’s very important to receive support from other places, to disseminate information, not only from official press but independent press like this radio show. Follow the social media from not only ACES but also all the other counter information press which has been supporting the movement. We will continue to struggle and we hope to continue to have your support, virtually, with messages, whatever you like and we really appreciate projects like Radio Evasión.
Interview 28 October: Villa Olímpica festival of resistance with Kassandra Romanini
Interviewer: Who are we talking to? and can you describe a bit of what you…
Kassandra: Ahh! Wait a sec [Interviewee gets distracted by someone else] Sorry! Ready
Interviewer: Well, now… seeing that you are somebody…
Kassandra: Somebody recognizable let’s say…
Interviewer: So, who are we talking to?
Kassandra: My name is Kassandra Romanini. I am a transexual woman. I have participated in this subculture for about 27 years. It used to be a bit more underground, but now with technology and many other things that have happened in the world at large, we are almost important, almost like iconic. I am participating today, doing my part, just adding one little drop to our bucket, so that what happens in Chile doesn’t happen in any other place. We want our rights to be respected, we want a constitutional assembly, we want the government to stop sticking the dick in our eye, that’s really how it is. We need them to fulfill their promises now, right. now.
Interviewer: Can you describe a bit about the activity taking place around us at the moment? And a bit about its elements of self-organization?
Kassandra: I was called to participate in this event. I think that the Olympic Village neighborhood council, together with ACES, a local popular movement, organized this event as a benefit for low-income families and Ollas Comunes, people’s kitchens. The entrance fee is simply non-perishable food, a voluntary money donation, or medical supplies for the people who have been hurt in the streets. The event is focused on helping those people who have been forgotten, people who are facing homelessness, vulnerable people. This event has also helped to unite the people from the Ñuñoa municipality of Santiago. These kinds of events are happening all around Chile. Today, Chilean musicians have been participating all day, personally I’ve here since 11AM, and I am really happy, even despite my hoarse ass voice, this is not my normal voice tone, but I’m very glad to participate.
Interviewer: Last question. Are you connected to the trans school here in the Villa?
Kassandra: No no I’m from another part of Santiago, but there is a school here, it’s for preschool and elementary students, called “Amaranta”, the organization behind it is called “Selena Foundation,” named after a trans woman who had her sex-change operation when she was young, I still haven’t done it, I feel comfortable with who I am. That’s why I was telling that mother, who came up on stage for a conversation, that I carry my flag, I am 47 years old, and the changes that they’re living through now … Just imagine, a boy around 5 or 6 years old having that support. Me, I felt different for many years, but I always struggled by myself, without the help of organizations, foundations, anything. So, I’ve always felt like one more person in the community. Maybe my advantage is that I pass pretty easily? I didn’t face a lot of bullying. I didn’t suffer much repression, but I have learned about many transgender compañeras who have suffered; same with the children. I think this happens simply because of lack of education.
Interviewer: Anything else you would like to add?
Kassandra: No, I’m just thankful for the opportunity to speak with you. We are simply here, demanding our rights. And I thanks again for the opportunity to answer some questions. And I’m happy that they called me to wind up the crowd and MC this event, and here I am. If anybody wants to follow me on Instagram, or any other social media, my name is Kassandra Romanini.
Interviewer: Thank you so much.
Interview 29 October: Colegio Paulo Freire in San Miguel
Alanis: On Tuesday, October 29 we went out to San Miguel, 7 kilometers from Plaza Italia. This neighborhood is famous for being the birthplace of basically the most important band in Chilean history, Los Prisioneros. Semi-political, semi-punk, Los Prisioneros were kind of like The Clash of Chile, except that the 1980s in Chile was ruled by a military dictatorship. But seeing Jorge Gonzalez’ house was just a bonus, we went down to San Miguel to interview some teachers—or as they call themselves ‘education workers’—at the Colegio Paulo Freire, a horizontally run, egalitarian and socially conscious high school. We did the interview in the school’s courtyard, which is decorated with murals made by the students—murals explaining anarchism, expressing solidarity with the Mapuche struggle, and with slogans saying “educate to liberate.” Meanwhile, all around us the space was abuzz with teachers—excuse me, education workers, students, parents, and neighbors making banners, cooking food for their olla común, doing child care, and broadcasting on the neighborhood radio station.
Interviewer: who are we talking to and where are we now?
Nicole: I’m Nicole, I am an educator at the Paulo Freire school. I teach history.
Gabriela: hi, I’m Gabriela, I’m also a people’s educator at the Paulo Freire school. I also teach history, as well as a class on the body, emotion, and coexistence which is called “Strength for Autonomy”
Daniela: I’m Daniela. I teach math and I’m one of the coordinators of the space.
Interviewer: first of all, can you give us a little background on the school?
Daniela: this is a school for both kids and adults, this means that the people who cannot finish their studies come here and in a year they complete 2 years of coursework, so what would normally take 4 years they do in 2. Even though it’s for adults we have a lot of young students from 14 years of age on. We have 3 courses per session and there are 3 sessions per day, in the morning, afternoon and evening. In total there are approximately 175 students that attend here. The school has been operating for 7 years. We started classes in 2013, but work around the school started in 2012. The school is under the control of its workers, so there is no boss. All the decisions are made collectively in assemblies. We receive support from the state and we don’t ask the students for any money—attendance is free—the idea being that students can come here to study irrespective of their socio-economic situation or social standing. The school is open to anyone that needs it.
Interviewer: And for those listening, can you paint a picture of the space and what’s happening around us?
Nicole: The structure of the school is more like an old house in the style of the 60’s or 80’s, the yard is very large, which has allowed us to make more classrooms. We have 3 classrooms in total, plus the main house where we have the library, the teacher’s room, the office. Our yard, which is large, has fruit trees, we have a metal workshop, a cantina with a kitchen. We also have a small sports center that students put together and now we are in the pagoda – a little outdoor table under a tiny roof with trees surrounding it. In this moment we are in an instance of intervention and agitation, comrades are using the space in light of the what’s going on around the country.
Gabriela: This started on Friday, October 18 after all the calls for evasiones, faredodging, from the students as a way to fight against the metro fare hike and… it has turned this country upside down. That Sunday we got together our assembly and decided to suspend regular classes and just gather from 11 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon instead, in order to have workshops with the students to make stencils, to make propaganda and to agitate and to disseminate the reasons, the different demands that the people are making, to spread the anger. What the government tried to do over the first weekend was frighten people so they wouldn’t take to the streets. To divide us as well. To divide the struggle that is going on, to make some people be against the looting and the fires. So a central point of our activities has been to stay united, to tell people that we are angry, that our dissatisfaction is legitimate, and that’s why we are acting like the community that we are, sharing food, making music every day. A lot of students come here after the demonstrations and marches, students who also organize in their neighborhoods. With our assembly we have also participated in other territorial assemblies. We always had a good relationship with our neighborhood. Ok, sometimes the neighbors ask us to turn down the noise but we have been able to maintain direct communication with agitation in the plaza where all the neighbors get together to play, to dance, to hang out after classes – which is just a block away. And then there’s our radio station, which can be heard within a one block radius and this has allowed the neighbors, through social media, to share what they think. The radio was something very spontaneous but we felt that it was necessary and some compas who had done radio in the past very quickly put together a signal and an online stream so that people elsewhere could hear us. That’s it more or less.
Interviewer: and how can our listeners tune in to the school’s radio?
Daniela: the radio can be heard at www.colegiopaulofreire.cl
Interviewer: Nicole, when I asked you if I could interview you, you said all you had to share was tears. Is it okay if I ask you why?
Nicole: well, on October 18th, at the moment of the strongest and heaviest moment of this social tension, the state of Chile put into effect a state of emergency, controlling the free movement of people and one of the starkest effects of that was that the military came out into the streets. We are the children of a generation that lived through dictatorship for 17 years, so we always heard stories about curfews, stories from our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, stories of how difficult it was to live in a regime where the military is constantly on the streets, where people were tortured, killed, where human rights were violated. And so in our current context, to see this image again, this image from 40 years ago is very hard, because it puts us in an atmosphere of uncertainty, we don’t know what will happen. Physically and emotionally, all the people who work in this space, and people in general that I had the chance to talk with, all felt that it was a really hard blow. You never think that demonstrations, anger, demanding for a better life can result in the violence that the state is using against us.
So it was a very hard week, where we really didn’t know if we were gonna be alive at the end of it, if we would be detained in the streets, or killed there. Because the curfew, the state of emergency, strips you of your basic rights. The constant bombardment from the tv, and the president declaring that we were at war really throws you off. From a social point of view, form the people’s point of view we are not at war. What we are demanding and what we want are basic rights that would guarantee us a better quality of life, so when you see that going into the streets to demand this can get you killed, its disconcerting, its scary. Fears pop up, anxieties pop up that maybe our ancestors were carrying before, and seeing them materialize today makes you understand, makes you empathize with the pain of our families who lived through the dictatorship. It is very intense. We never thought that in “democracy” we would live through the same measures that were seen in dictatorship. It makes you think that, today, the dictatorship actually never ended. No matter how much they have tried to paint it as a democracy, as a representative regime, it is all fake. So on Friday, the 25th, we weren’t prepared to do interviews because we didn’t know how everything would end, or how we would even begin all of this. Friday was a moment of catharsis, a catharsis that manifested itself in the streets, where more than one million people gathered demonstrating against the state of Chile, against Piñera who is the president, against the Minister of the Interior Chadwick, mainly demanding that the military leave the streets and go back to their quarters and that they let us demonstrate freely. That it is a basic and necessary right.
Interviewer: thanks. Now this being a space for mobilization, consciousness raising… Why does the state of Chile subsidize this school? I don’t understand it. It’s something that would never happen where I am from. How do you manage it?
Gabriela: Well this school was born out of the Movement of Pobladores in Struggle, pobladores being people who occupied unsused land and out of self-organization built shanties and neighborhoods from it. We’re trying to be a fissure in this economic system because education is so privatized, but at the same time this privatization of education is partly funded by the state. This fissure, this crack in the system allows a school like ours to be established legally as a private enterprise with a bit of funding from the state. Without a doubt, since we are a school of young people and adults, we are among the most marginalized of the marginalized and the ministry of education and the government have absolutely no interest and they don’t care what we do because we are not perceived as a competitor, as a target group of students, or as part of their meritocracy. They’re like, “with the young adults or adults who deserted our system, or that our system discarded, discriminated against or kicked out, just do whatever you want.” It has to do with this indifference, this disdain towards the young people we work with. This means we are a very forgotten subsidized project. We receive little money, but since we are a self-organized assembly we have been able to sustain and maintain our budget, a not-for-profit budget, free and open, with a salary that can allow us as workers to sustain our basic necessities and commit to providing quality education, with a lot of horizontal social and emotional relationships, and it is what we did for years as people’s educators before we had proper school. In short, that’s how this school maintains itself, a bit due to the disinterest and abandonment of the state and partly due to a crack in privatized system of adult education.
Nicole: For some years now we have a coordinating body organized by teachers themselves that focuses on self-organized education from different regions, like the cities of Rancagua and Valparaiso, the center of Santiago, Puente Alto. At an institutional level we show solidarity with other teachers by participating, for example, there was a big march some months ago from the teachers demanding better education. And on the other hand, we bring our ideals into self-organizing alternative educational initiatives. Even though we have a relationship to the state in terms of receiving resources, we are the ones who manage these resources, as education workers, and we try to use them responsibly for both the workers and the students. In this framework, we are raising a movement for the critical thinking and emancipation of educators, it’s a very new initiative…but we are all comrades who have been working together for years and we are taking some baby steps starting with these conversations.
We also have a relationship of mutual aid with other organizations, with other collectives. There are many feminist collectives and comrades who also work in the legal defense of compas who are in jail, popular legal defense groups who have asked us to use the space for solidarity work and other activities. So this space is also open to other sister organizations that need it. And from there we have been able to get to know other organizations, other collectives, other individuals who have needed a helping hand for health reasons or for whatever reason. In this sense we have a network of solidarity, and a people’s economy with shared resources.
Interviewer: Ok… so, this might be a very ignorant question but… where I come from a school for the most marginalized of the marginalized, who have been kicked out of other schools, like, there people would have the idea that it would be a school full of problems, maybe like violence or drugs or just pent up students who don’t want to be there but here, I mean I’ve only been here for a few days but, it seems, like, almost harmonious. It’s breathtaking. Is that because of your pedagogical approach, or the social ideals that the school fights for too…?
Nicole: Yes. Yes in the sense that – all the students that come rejected from the traditional system arrive here and the change is not automatic, it’s not abrupt, it’s not overnight, but it is subtle, slow, constant, there is deep and hard work from the part of the educational workers, and not just in an academic way, our pedagogical approach aims more toward the affective, the fraternal, towards a caring for our students. So, like, maybe the students that start coming here in March we can only start to see changes in October, November, in terms also of how they relate to each other and how they relate to us. Problems of violence, drugs, alcohol exist in all schools, we are part of that too but our way of confronting or dealing with these conflicts is through conflict resolution and dialogue, trying to contextualize the consumption of drugs, contextualize violence, through the year we are always making workshops, discussions, round circles, gatherings, in order to generate consciousness in the students not just in their daily environment but also in the local, national, and global contexts. In one way or another, when our students arrive here damaged from the system we do all this work – we make the journey with them, we embrace them, we support them, we explain to them that we were also part of the same thing, that we created this project because we were also marginalized by the system. And among marginalized peoples, we understand each other. So when the school year is over and we get new students, or the same students move on to other classes, the level of knowledge is higher among everyone and it allows us to develop this kind of community. We are no isolated from violence, drugs, but we take care of it. I think this differentiates us from other educational systems—we don’t invisibilize and instead try to be accountable and take responsibility for the problems that are very human within the society we live in today.
Gabriela: As Nicole was saying, this school has a diverse student body. This generates a space that among them is very fraternal. They learn from each other. We have students here that come because of persecution of their political ideas where they end up being expelled from other schools because they want to get organized, they want to generate spaces for participation and decision making and in hierarchical schools that’s not allowed. When they arrive here, these students realize that this is a much more horizontal space, where they can participate. Pedagogically speaking we work here starting from the interests of the students, that’s how very quickly we develop gardens, murals that the students made, the sports center the students built that we mentioned. So this is their space, they can change it, transform it, here they can express their ideas, nobody will force them to stay in the classroom if they want to go to the bathroom or they can’t concentrate anymore and they don’t want to pay attention. In some way, as Nicole said, we support them in the sense that the pedagogical process develops in relation to what we want to share with each other.
There’s a natural disposition or openness to want to dialogue, share, to feel listened to, but most of all to share our problems, which are the same. We have all been through problems of drug consumption, situations of anxiety, so there’s a focus on educating about self-care, in not giving our lives away to the market and therefore we begin to understand each other. It’s a space that brings people together. But as our compa explained, the school culture sometimes has taken deep roots, and sometimes the students themselves ask us to exert more authority. Some crazy things like that happen. But it’s a dialogue of diversity, between diverse life experiences. This is also a school for adults and there are comrades who are working, who have children, so all of us together try to build a space where our necessities and our interests can be developed, independent of whether some want to finish school or not. Some are a bit younger and they are in a different moment of life. Some come very organized with clear ideas to develop and contribute, so with all that diversity there is some sense of equilibrium that is created between all the problems and perspectives.
Interviewer: Ok, and last question. In the last days of revolt, at the national level, have you faced any tension between your obligations as an institution that is subsidized by the state, and the desire to generate more mobilization through the space?
Gabriela: I think no, mainly because this is much bigger than us. This process of revolt surpasses us, all the workers are out there, healthcare workers, educators, students, grandparents, the retired, everyone, truck drivers protesting against the price of the TAG which is the tariff you get charged when you cross the highway, everyone is on the streets. The changes in our activity is a bit imperceptible because the government is worried about all the shit going down in the streets. So from that perspective we haven’t had many difficulties with the government itself, but there are some reporting procedures we should follow but really, complying with our bureaucratic obligations is no big deal compared to the level of social conflict and explosion which has taken place.
Nicole: I just want to add that all this that is happening in Chile, this social revolt, social explosion, whatever you want to call it, it’s, you could say, the utopia many us have dreamed for. When things exploded in this revolt there was nothing else to do but to join it and experience it because many of us have dreamt of this since we were little, when we were in school and the first student mobilizations were taking place and maybe beginning to shape the social fabric now and the movement that is emerging. But it has to be said that as a school we try to take all the responsible steps. For example, we have to pay attention to our students who are in the last year of school and have to graduate at the end of the year, their average grades, those kinds of things. Things that we think about but that we know will come in their own time. There is something much more important, and our participation today has to be in our territory, in the streets and with our people.
Interviewer: Thank you so much. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Gabriela: just to thank you for the space to talk, to share what we have been feeling. All of this has turned us upside down. We have a routine, a daily life which makes us very happy, very fulfilled but also a bit removed. So the fact of being able to talk about it, and the fact that it’s a medium that will get outside of Chile. The repression is really brutal, there are many young people with rubber bullet and pellet wounds in their faces, their bodies, people disappeared, tortured, so we don’t know how bad it could still get. The government is just the same people from the last dictatorship, so this is an important space to tell you about how our community project is a water drop in this immense sea of social transformation that we hope will consolidate and settle itself in the next decades.
Nicole: And I’d just like to say long live rebellious joy.
Interview 29 October: Middle school students’ anti-police demonstration
Clara: On our way out of San Miguel, we passed by a group of a couple hundred teenage students, still in their uniforms, demonstrating in a park across from the local police headquarters. Just as we walked by the kids—some masked up, some with gloves ready to throw back teargas—began taking the street and blocking traffic, chanting, “there they are, there they are, the ones who murder without cause!” One young demonstrator was kind enough to give us a short interview.
Interviewer: Alright, who are we talking with and what’s going on here? Student: I’m a student and I want everything in this country to get better, because what’s happening right now is something that affects many people. It has affected lots of young people, adults, kids, who have been hurt by the president’s actions. Right now we’re in front of the police station. There are a lot of people yelling, chanting, and the police are inside listening. They’re inside because of what’s happening. Interviewer: And are you a university student, high school student, or…? Student: I’m a middle school student. Interviewer: Right on. And it seems like there are a lot of students here demonstrating, maybe hundreds. What are y’all doing, and what’s going on in front? Student: We were having a peaceful march. We came from really far away and made it up here to the police station, and then the cops started firing pellets and hitting us with their batons. We had to run away. But it was a peaceful action. Interviewer: Did you walk out of class to carry out this demonstration? Student: No, we finished the school day and then started to gather. We went from metro station to metro station gathering up all the students until we got to San Miguel. Interviewer: So y’all didn’t want to just go home and watch youtube videos or something like that instead? Student: No, we wanted to help Chile. It’s something important. Interviewer: Alright, anything else you want to add? Student: Hopefully Piñera steps down! Interviewer: Alright, thank you!
Interview 30 October: The People’s Assembly in Plaza Bogota
Alanis: This next interview comes from the people’s assembly at Plaza Bogota, in the Sierra Bella neighborhood—4 kilometers from Plaza Italia.
Interviewer: Who are we speaking with?
Tommy: My name is Tommy, I organize with the Community Public School in Barrio Franklin, and I’m also taking part in the People’s Assembly of Plaza Bogota.
Nicole: My name is Nicole, and I’m a neighbor from here near the plaza, in a neighborhood called Barrio Matta Sur, and we’re organizing here in the plaza but also in the streets. It’s been a while since I last participated in organizing like this, but this struggle needs us to come together and propose alternatives, like what this space here has allowed us to do—dream of another world and start working to bring it to life.
Interviewer: And how long has the people’s assembly here been going?
Tommy: The assembly, unlike other assemblies that popped up on their own, was called for by certain organizations active here in this neighborhood, like the Community Public School, the Cooperative Permaculture School, and Guasasapo artists’ cooperative. It got started last Tuesday, the 22nd, with our first assembly and an Olla Común, which brought out about 40 to 50 neighbors. The numbers stayed around there all last week with daily assemblies. Then on Saturday we had a big community gathering event, with a barter market, workshops, an Olla Común and, of course, an assembly. This week we’ve organized community suppers because lots of people have had to go back to work, so we moved the hour of the Olla Común back so more neighbors can make it.
Interviewer: And can you describe the activity y’all had tonight?
Nicole: Well, today we had an open workshop with about 30 people about analyzing where this struggle is going. We broke out into small groups where we collectively assessed who are the social actors in this revolt, how the revolt got started and what forms it took, and just going over everything that has happened in the last week and a half of mobilization. The interesting thing was comparing amongst ourselves the things that have stood out for us, as people from here in this neighborhood, and see what kind of coherence there was between all our different observations.
Interviewer: And speaking about the last week and a half of revolt, how do you see the assembly here in the plaza as related to the conflicts and marches happening in the center, near Plaza Italia and Alameda?
Tommy: I believe that a lot of the people taking to the streets are also organizing in their communities, and vice versa. So, it’s important to understand that these two kinds of spaces are equally important, because in the marches there isn’t time to develop any kind of organization. Cooking for a people’s kitchen doesn’t mean you have to stop hitting the streets. There’s even been propaganda and signs going around saying, “Let’s not give up the streets!” but, at the same time, and I know it can be tiring to do both, but the work we really need to do is show up for instances of community organization too. For example, the women in the neighborhood here, after the assembly is over they hit the streets and march banging pots and pans. In the mornings, some of our people go to the marches in the center, or we take turns among ourselves for who goes and who stays here. There’s barricades that are still going up each night in some neighborhoods, which in general take place after the evening assemblies are concluded. That’s what’s up, we can’t let what happens on the streets be separate from the organizing we’re doing in our own communities.
Interviewer: Thank you! Anything else you’d like to add?
Nicole: Yeah, I think we’re trying to move forward in all the important spaces—the streets in the center, the neighborhoods on the periphery, creating community, self-organization, propaganda, getting all kinds of sectors of society organized, radio projects, yeah. There ya go!
Report from the Olla Común at Plaza Italia
Alanis: And after taking a tour around rebel Santiago, we’re going to wrap up back in Plaza Italia, the central gathering point for the last two weeks of protests. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday have seen marches starting from Plaza Italia, going down Alameda with looting, conflict with the police, and throwing back teargas canisters. If you’ve seen any epic photos of flag holders atop a monument in Santiago, it’s probably in Plaza Italia. There’s a burnt out bank nearby that people are using as a bathroom and dressing room, with a second floor gallery to watch the conflict unfold. The entrances to the metro station at the plaza are prime targets—and not just because police have been using the station as their private fort to shoot projectiles from. Last week, a demonstrator made credible claims of being arrested and tortured inside the metro station, which became a headline scandal. The entrance he described being taken into has become a major target for fires. We didn’t know you could burn the entrance to a metro station, but even if you can’t, apparently sometimes you must.
To support to mobilization going on at Plaza Italia, an Olla Común has started in nearby, and much chiller, Parque Forestal, and we have an audio report about how it’s going.
Olla Común: So I’m currently at the Olla Comun, here in Plaza Italia, Plaza Italia is basically the center of a lot of the protests here in Santiago. So while there is generalized unrest throughout the neighborhoods, this is the one place where people from all over Santiago come to nearly daily to protest, to march, to dance, to do cacerolazo which means to bang pots and pans. It is also where there has been the greatest amount of conflict with police. Pretty much every single day there are barricades, tear gas, water cannons, and so our idea was to take a kind of staple of autonomous neighborhood organizing from other parts of Santiago where people live, which is Olla Común, where traditionally older women or families will volunteer to cook dinner or cook lunch, and will give it out for free or just for donations to people during protests. And during, I guess, not when things are exploding with unrest, it’s a way for a lot of older women to make some extra money, selling food for $1 or $2, and a way for working class folks to get a full meal. So typically it would be like 2000 Chilean pesos and you would get like five courses. So our idea here is that people from all over the city are coming here, this is also a very expensive neighborhood where the restaurants cost money. Often the restaurants will close when protests are happening. And also everything here costs money. So our idea was to have free food that is just donation based and be on the corner in our neighborhood. The effects have been that a lot of the kids who are here for the protests are like, “oh yes, I’m starving.” Also it’s vegan, so a lot of other folks who are vegan or vegetarian are like, “oh my god, vegan food in this neighborhood? yes.” Also it’s been a great way to meet neighbors. This older woman came down and said, “Oh you’re doing olla común! this is great.” And passed us the equivalent of $10, and talked to us about how she’s been down here every day giving out water to the protestors, letting them use her bathroom. And giving out lemons, which people here, when they get hit with tear gas will eat lemons to kind of curb the tear-gas-mouth-thing. Currently it’s been a pretty good project, there’s been about 12 people here and there’s an Instagram, @ollacomun_plazaitalia where we will be posting the dates when we are doing a común, typically tied to whenever there is a major march called for Plaza Italia.
So the current panorama on the street with Olla Comun is, it is relatively quiet compared to Parque Forestal where everyone is walking to the march at Plaza Italia. And then the other block which is Alameda where everyone is marching from Plaza Italia to La Moneda, which is the capitol building, basically the presidential palace. On this street there’s a lot of punks, a lot of young kids, people masked up, people are tagging the street and the walls of the buildings with phrases like “Queer resistance.” ”Free abortion.” “Guillotine for Karol Lucero,” “Don’t have kids.” There’s a little stencil of a guillotine. Pacos Culiaos which means “fuck the police.” And this is basically the street where people are kind of walking on and where both the project of Olla Comun as well as the medics down the street is to make this a street where it’s not necessarily about say, conflicting with the police, or a street where you have to worry about "Oh, we’re sitting down here but any time now the Guanaco can come out and chase us and we have to run. But rather it’s a street where, you won’t necessarily get hit with tear gas, you won’t necessarily get sprayed with guanaco, so therefore it’s kind of, simply a kind of a safe space, as safe as it can be.
The Right to Live Is Not to be Begged For, It Is to Be Taken!
Alanis: The last piece we’re going to leave you with is a submission we got in our inbox. It’s a response from compas in Chile to the government’s attempt to try and quell the resistance with miniscule reforms, or, as people here are calling them, migajas, tablescraps. The text is titled, “The Right to Live Is Not to be Begged For, It Is to Be Taken!”
Clara: While drinking tea with a group of old fascists, Chile’s fifth richest shitpile (worth almost $3 billion USD), President Sebastian Piñera, gives us his paternal post-meal sermon.
“I announced yesterday that the process of normalization is in full swing, facing the emergency we’ve been living through past days. And it is not due to the peaceful demonstrations of the people, it is small, organized, violent groups that have caused great harm (…) we stand against them, not against the humble people, or the peaceful people, or against the people who want to protest, or that want to demonstrate. In order to swiftly and successfully implement this process of normalization, which includes reducing and eventually lifting the curfew and state of emergency, we need to move forward with achieving the protection of public order, the protection of people’s safety, respect for human rights and also to ensure the liberty and rights of people to assemble, to go to work, to go study, to do something worthwhile with their lives. (…) To that end our government is going forward, fighting with all the tools that democracy grants us, the legitimate tools of democracy, against these violent, entirely evil groups that have caused so much harm to so many Chileans and many humble people”.
We respond to him: the tradition of the oppressed has taught us that the “state of emergency” we live in is not the exception, but the rule. “Until life is worth it” is one of the slogans of this spontaneous movement. First, the obvious: life is not worth it the way things are. Some small examples: 50% of the 11,000 people who retired this past August made just around $66 USD in their monthly pension; 11,000,000 Chileans live with debt; Chile has the second highest rate of adolescent suicide after North Korea according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; more than 50% of the country lives off of less than $480 USD each month. [And, the Ex-Worker editors just want to add that food, rent, and utility prices can be just as expensive here in Chile as in the Global North] Moreover, the logic behind such a slogan points to the vital fact that all of our suffering is brought about by the dictatorship of money: the commodification of all spheres of life. This is what capitalist progress produces and it is the true state of emergency. It’s sad that life is not worthwhile, but it is even sadder that it should be, and the sorrow of wanting to live it. The shameless, mafioso workings of the president makes us certain that he is not protecting us against quote “brutal violence, unleashed delinquency, and massive destruction,”–if that were the case then he would have to remove himself from his very own office. Nobody forgets, for example, his embezzlement of Talca Bank in the ‘80’s—when he, with a debt of over 200 million dollars that the bank had loaned to sham companies related to him, fled for 24 days—or the 30-year tax evasion of his properties on Lake Caburga, amounting to a tax-revenue that could have financed over 80,000 field trips for students. The way that mainstream media and politicians treat criminal insurgents shows the vulnerability of capitalism: the way they repeat ad nauseum that we should return to the normalcy that led us here. Since its inception, democracy has been rooted in the oppression of enslaved groups, so Piñera is not at all mistaken when he says he is using quote “the tools that democracy has granted us” to stifle the impulse towards life that we have seen. Against all democratic totalitarianism we assert:
Freedom is the liberty to end any tyranny.
QueSeVayanTodes, they all must go
Clara: And that’s it for the English half of the episode. If you speak Spanish, stick around for the original interviews we translated from. Don’t forget to check out our website at Crimethinc.com for a full English transcript of this episode, and to check out all the supplementary shownotes and links. You can e-mail us at email@example.com, and please do if you’d be willing to help us translate or transcribe future episodes from Spanish to English, or vice versa. History is being written day by day down in Santiago, so we can’t promise when the next Radio Evasión dispatch will come out, but until then…
Alanis: “Subo mil historias al día, Para que me digas, para, para que me digas; Corramos de la yuta un día…” Y ya comenzamos con las entrevistas en español…
(Una parte no mas—ayudanos con transcribir, escribirnos a firstname.lastname@example.org)
De la desobediencia civil a la insurrección popular: una reflexión en torno a la revuelta y el terrorismo de estado en la región chilena
El neoliberalismo agoniza en la región chilena y quiere llevarnos con él. La rabia acumulada por décadas encontró su chispa en el alza del metro de Santiago extendiéndose por los diferentes territorios controlados por el estado chileno. No es raro, por tanto, que los actos de sabotaje, saqueos e incendios apuntasen a la infraestructura de las instituciones que representan a los sectores de la elite chilena que explotan día a día a millones (1).
Militares desplegados en el centro de Santiago Si el estado policial avanzaba implacable con nuevas legislaciones represivas –la última década vio recrudecer la ley antiterrorista (2011) y la ley de control de armas (2015), junto a la instalación del control preventivo de identidad (2016) y la ley Aula Segura (2018), entre otras-, las protestas, principalmente de lxs estudiantes, frente a la intensidad de la criminalización en contra de quienes denunciaban la violencia sistemática del estado y del mercado, nunca cesaron; las evasiones masivas que comenzaron con el aumento del pasaje del metro (2) -la cuarta en dos años- terminaron por desenmascarar el fascismo y la soberbia de la clase política conservadora, que en un primer momento se burló de la rabia social y amenazó con aplicar la ley de seguridad interior del estado, para luego desencadenar una ola represiva extrema -como no se había visto desde tiempos dictatoriales (3)-, invocando el estado de emergencia en prácticamente la totalidad del territorio que pretenden controlar. El paraíso del consumo neoliberal, vio nuevamente a los militares empuñar las armas en contra de las personas que dicen defender, castigando la desobediencia con varias muertes, centenares de heridxs y miles detenidxs; socavando la dignidad de los luchadores sociales a través de las más aberrantes torturas, utilizando el secuestro y la violencia política sexual en numerosos casos conocidos (4) -aplicando en el nuevo contexto algunos de los métodos de contrainsurgencia- para instaurar el miedo y buscar frenar el movimiento social insurrecto, todo ello para resguardar la propiedad privada, privilegiando la defensa de las multinacionales (supermercados, farmacias, mall, etc.) e instituciones estatales frente a las vidas de las personas (5), recordándonos su función como defensores de los privilegios de lxs poderosxs.
Estación Metro Baquedano ha sido señalada como un centro de tortura en Santiago. A pesar de esta creciente ola de violencia perpetrada por militares y policías, los barrios y comunidades han respondido con valor y dignidad enfrentándose incansablemente contra las fuerzas represivas, tomándose las calles una y otra vez con barricadas y ataques a las instituciones y símbolos de poder, de quienes llevan décadas robando a todxs quienes habitamos la región chilena, la sociedad no creyó el discurso oficial que con ahínco el gobierno de turno intentó posicionar por medio de una guerra psicológica criminalizadora de las legítimas demandas de un pueblo exhausto, que finalmente comienza a ver de manera clara cómo funcionan los engranajes de un sistema social y económico desigual al borde del colapso. Es necesario no olvidar que la actual revuelta viene a aglutinar una variedad de demandas de parte de las comunidades y barrios más desfavorecidos en la región; en donde el puntapié inicial puede identificarse en el mochilazo (2001), que continuó con varias protestas en las últimas dos décadas: revolución pingüina (2006), huelga de hambre de los presos políticos mapuche (2010), movilizaciones estudiantiles contra el lucro (2011), revuelta social de Aysén (2012), protestas de pescadores artesanales contra la ley de pescas (2012), revuelta social de Chiloé (2016), protestas contra las AFP (2016), la revolución feminista (2018) y la revuelta por la crisis medioambiental de Puchuncaví-Quintero (2018), por nombrar algunas de las más relevantes.
Creemos necesario enfrentar la instalación, sin caretas, del estado policial y tomar la posta de lxs caídxs sin bajar los brazos, enfrentando los ataques del estado desde todas las trincheras posibles. Es la hora de reencontrarnos en nuestros territorios y comunidades, reconstruir confianzas al fuego de las barricadas y cacerolas por la eliminación de un sistema ecocida y autodestructivo, a forjar auto-determinación y recuperar nuestra libertad. Que la crisis terminal del neoliberalismo –en su versión chilena- no nos lleve con él. Evitemos que se instale el fascismo en nuestros espacios, hoy más que nunca es hora de golpear al capital. La revuelta se levanta en diferentes territorios: Ecuador, Honduras, Hong Kong, Francia son ejemplos visibles de organización y resistencia al dolor universal que el exterminio capitalista de millones de formas de vida ha ocasionado durante siglos. Las opciones son simples: revolución o extinción.
Santiago, Región chilena
PD: Recomendamos la crónica del colectivo CrimethInc sobre la represión en los primeros día de la revuelta: https://lapeste.org/2019/10/resistiendo-bajo-la-ley-marcial-un-reporte-una-entrevista-y-una-llamada-a-la-accion/
(1) Mientras la tonica ha sido aumentar las penas en contra de lxs luchadores sociales, criminalizar el comercio ambulante y reprimir los delitos en contra de la propiedad, por otra parte para lxs grandes empresarios ha existido grandes perdonazos y penas menores: colusión de los pollos (https://ciperchile.cl/2016/01/06/nueva-colusion-por-el-precio-del-pollo-acusan-a-las-tres-principales-cadenas-de-supermercados/); colusión farmacias (https://ciperchile.cl/2009/04/09/el-dossier-del-caso-farmacias-asi-se-subieron-los-precios-segun-fasa/); colusión del papel (https://ciperchile.cl/2018/10/11/colusion-del-papel-el-secreto-que-cubre-los–2–795-millones-que-recibieron-conadecus-y-odecu/); financiamiento irregular de lxs políticos (https://ciperchile.cl/especiales/financiamiento-irregular-politica/), entre otras. El nivel de cinismo de lxs poderosxs ha sido tan grande que en el caso Penta los empresarios Délano y Lavín pese a un millonario fraude al fisco solo recibieron multas y la obligación de realizar clases de ética sin perder su libertad.
(2) El pasaje del metro aumentó $50 en lo que va del 2019, siendo la cuarta alza en dos años, posicionándose como el tercer año en que más sube su tarifa. Cabe destacar que el punto sin retorno en las alzas desmedidas del metro ocurre en 2010, poco después de la creación del panel de expertos -que dictaminan el valor del transporte público- quienes estipularon cinco alzas, lo que se traduce en $120. https://www.eldinamo.cl/nacional/2019/10/19/el-ano-en-que-mas-subio-la-tarifa-del-metro/
(3) La última vez que se invocó el estado de emergencia para aplacar manifestaciones sociales fue en 1987 en la dictadura de Pinochet.
(5) El ex-presidente de Evópoli (partido oficialista), Francisco Undurraga, señaló a los medios de comunicación que los atentados a los derechos humanos realizados por agentes del Estado eran de igual gravedad que los ataques sufridos por el Metro de Santiago. https://www.cooperativa.cl/noticias/pais/manifestaciones/ex-presidente-de-evopoli-atentados-al-metro-son-igual-de-graves-que/2019–10–28/145251.html
“EL DERECHO DE VIVIR NO SE MENDIGA, ¡SE TOMA!” Mientras toma té con un grupo de viejas fachas, la quinta pila de mierda más millonaria de Chile (con un patrimonio de US$2.800 millones), Piñera, nos da su sermón paternal de sobremesa: “Ayer anuncié que estamos en plena marcha con un proceso de normalización frente a la situación de emergencia que hemos vivido y conocido en los últimos días. Y que se debe no a las manifestaciones pacíficas de la gente, se debe a la acción de grupos pequeños, organizados, violentos, y que han causado un daño gigantesco (… ) contra ellos estamos enfrentados, no contra la gente humilde, o la gente pacífica, o la gente que quiere protestar, o que quiere manifestarse. Por eso, para lograr implementar con rapidez y con éxito este proceso de normalización que significa ir reduciendo y levantando los toques de queda y levantando los estados de emergencia, necesitamos avanzar en lograr el resguardo del orden público, la protección de la seguridad de las personas, el respeto a los derechos humanos y también asegurar la libertad y el derecho de las personas a movilizarse, a ir a trabajar, a ir a estudiar, hacer de sus vidas algo que valga la pena. (…) Por eso nuestro gobierno va a seguir combatiendo con todos los instrumentos que nos otorga la democracia, los instrumentos legítimos de la democracia, a estos grupos de violentistas que con total maldad han causado tanto daño a tantos chilenos y muchos de ellos gente humilde”. Nosotras le respondemos: la tradición del oprimido nos enseña que el “estado de emergencia” en que vivimos no es la excepción, sino la regla. “Hasta que vivir valga la pena” es una de las consignas de este movimiento espontáneo. Primero, lo obvio: vivir tal y cual como están las cosas no vale la pena. Un botón de muestra: 50% de las 11 mil personas que se jubilaron este agosto lo hicieron con $48.000 como pensión; 11 millones de chilenos viven endeudados; Chile tiene la segunda tasa de suicidio adolescente más alta de la OCDE después de Corea del Norte; más del 50% del país gana menos de $350 mil mensuales, etc. Pero luego, la lógica de fondo de tal eslogan apunta al hecho vital que todos padecemos producto de la dictadura del dinero: la mercantilización de todas las esferas de la vida. Esto es lo que produce el progreso capitalista y es el verdadero estado de emergencia. Es triste que la vida no valga, pero es más triste que deba valer —y la pena— para querer vivirla. El mafioso caradura de Piñera nos asegura que nos está protegiendo contra “la violencia brutal, la delincuencia desatada y la destrucción masiva”, pero para eso tendría que destituirse él mismo de su cargo, pues a nadie se le olvida, por ejemplo, su desfalco al Banco de Talca de los ‘80 —cuando Piñera, con una deuda de más de 200 millones de dólares que el banco le había prestado a empresas fantasmas relacionadas a él, se dio a la fuga por 24 días— o la evasión de contribuciones por 30 años de una de sus propiedades en el Lago Caburga y que la sabiduría popular nos indica que alcanzaría para 83 mil pasajes escolares. El hecho de que los medios tradicionales de comunicación y los políticos traten a los insurgentes de delincuentes demuestra la vulnerabilidad del capitalismo, que nos repite ad nauseum que debemos volver a la normalidad que nos trajo hasta aquí. Puesto que la democracia desde sus orígenes ha estado basada en la opresión de grupos esclavizados, Piñera no se equivoca cuando dice que está usando “los instrumentos que nos otorga la democracia” para acallar el impulso de vida que se está manifestado. Contra este totalitarismo democrático afirmamos: LA LIBERTAD ES LA LIBERTAD DE ACABAR CON CUALQUIER TIRANIA.