It’s been a little over 6 months since the Chilean Anti-Government/ “Chilean Wokeness” protests began, and for some odd reason, the USA is completely BLIND to it. There was very little coverage of it, initially, and when it did get notice, it was like 2 months later and done with such a simplistic reductionist view that it would make the casual browser/reader just scoff at the situation- a situation that most people simply wouldn’t understand without a wider lens of the history of Chile since the 1970s, and possibly 1800s for some of the people out there protesting. That later part of my last sentence is why these protests should get a little more coverage, as there are other countries in Latin America that are waking up in what is being called the “Latin American Spring”. And that’s just it, only Latin America seems to want to be aware of it, but these protests are growing in many countries including Colombia, Haiti, Ecuador and Bolivia, with police and Protesters clashing by the day. Something major is happening and it’s a little more than just becoming “WOKE”, as we say in the USA, people are actually fighting for all aspects of life in Latin America, and it’s not a game or a catch phrase for them. It really is about LIFE and whether or not they’ll have a future, which is especially important because unlike the USA, many other countries never had anything like a Civil Rights Movement to try to ensure that all citizens get a change to have lives like normal citizens of a country. This is really what is largely ignored and reduced to “oh there are students making noise over $.04 cents hike in subway tolls” in the American media, when referencing what is happening in places like Chile.
I contacted some buddies, down in Chile, to catch up and shoot the breeze about a visit to Chile, especially since I read that the protests are over- and they each said the same thing “HELL NO!!! DO NOT COME DOWN HERE!” I heard it so much that I started laughing when one buddy told me this, and he immediately got serious and told me to stop laughing because it’s a very serious situation and that I could die if I found myself around any of the Protesters. I mean we are in a time Corona everywhere, why should I feel protesters? I thought there couldn’t possibly be anything that serious going on that I could not go down there, then I got stuck on a word he said and was asked, extra quizzically, “Protesters????” Well Protesters protest things, so, what are these guys protesting? Then my buddies sent examples of current destruction happening to infrastructure, via Whatsapp, and I was mortified by the destruction to Santiago. Many things I remembered from a decade after Pinochet’s rule were vandalized. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw a lot of graphic videos and pictures highlighting a bunch of conflict between the police and Protesters, building/vehicles/stations set ablaze and people getting shot in their faces with some weapons or another. I was completely floored at such graphic violence and immediately realized why none of it was “newsworthy” to the USA media outlets. I know we each have our own issues but maybe, just maybe, the US media doesn’t want anyone in the USA to get any ideas, because a lot of the protests are done by young adults who wonder what their future is going to be, as there isn’t much upward mobility is the claim in Chile. Hmmmm I began to think, what if Bernie Sanders does not win the Presidency in the USA, would all of the young people behind him revolt like the people in Chile? Hmmm You know that whole “Bernie Bros” stereotype could easily shape up to be just like these young kids rioting in Chile, if we are not careful. So, the American media will downplay the angry youth whom are Bernie Sanders supporters and are getting more extreme by the day, but if not careful, the USA could experience a “spring”. Maybe, the media is not showing that stuff HERE in the USA because we are afraid our kids will repeat???!! We are seeing extremists pop up on all sides here in the USA, lately… Sounds stupid to you? Well, we, in NYC, saw protests about NYC subway hikes in fare and Protesters used the images of “Negro MataPacos”, the Chilean attack dog that attacks cops and not Protesters, for an odd spin on user of canines in protests.
I went down to Santiago, Chile when the protests were supposedly cooled down, although small protests were happening in multiple places around the country since the protests began, they were mostly on Friday afternoons. As soon as I got my boots on the ground, I was alerted that protests were ramping up again and they promised to bring the fight to the government yet again, because it’s the Summer time in Chile right now. On the cab ride from the airport, we took several detours around large body gathering, to avoid being pulled out of the car and beaten by Protesters and forced to “DANCE”. To DANCE is to cough up money to pay the rioters who overtake your car and force you out! So yeah, robberies are up in Chile now. So, we took some huge detours, and right on schedule, the Protesters did not disappoint, they started ramping up action from their small protests every Friday to every night AFTER curfew! Many stores were closing early due to protests and riots, many stores boarded up their windows, some, even while I was eating in the restaurants! But what exactly were they fighting for, and why would my driver be afraid that someone would pull me from the car and beat me to death if I didn’t pay them money? What did “I” do to them? Clearly, the driver was highlighting that the people are so obsessed with violence to a point where many will cause destruction wherever they can make it, including being up innocent people. That suggested to me that there was a lot of misplaced anger, which is definitely a sign of desperation and hope being lost for the youth, which is not a good sign for any society. That kind of anger is more than what my USA media would have me understand of this conflict in Chile. So how did it all begin?
When I first began going to Chile, more than 20 years ago, there was huge economic growth and promise. When Pinochet fell in 1990, that opened up a lot of opportunity for people already advantaged, but most of the Chileans were not in a position to better themselves, social stratification skyrocketed since the 90s, after ousting the Marxist (Socialist) Chilean Government under President Salvador Allende- and ousting that was backed by the US GOVERNMENT to push the country to a capitalism and rid them of Russian influence by backing the coup by the dictator Augusto Pinochet! My friends also like to remind me of Anti-American sentiment in Chile, and to be careful. This sentiment has been recounted to me several times by Chileans, when they reference the history of “MY COUNTRY” in Chilean affairs. I quickly counter by saying “but I’m African American… so….???” And their arguments are all defeated. After the coup, with Pinochet in power, the started capturing and executing socialists. Pinochet blindfolded and kidnapped many people who were pledged to Communist groups, and they were never heard from ever since being kidnapped. They are the “disappeared” or the “prisoners” you hear being referenced by current Protesters, over 3,200 dissenters of Pinochet never returned back to society, were detained indefinitely, tortured and/or killed. This is a little over 30 years go, not 100 years ago. This remains a huge sore spot for Chile, and Americans had a hand in it. Chileans who are 30 years of age today had their parents taken away from them by Pinochet. Ladies who were captured and tortured as youth were sexually abused, some later making it back to regular society but most were never heard from again. THAT is what is not being properly put into perspective when viewing the protests in Chile. Many turned a blind eye to the Pinochet regime’s crimes because the Chilean economy was booming under capitalism. Capitalism, the great blinder of humanity.
Today, Chile is still the largest Latin American economy. Through the use of great political maneuvering, similar to the USA, the privileged had all of the benefits, with privatized everything (e.g., pensions, health care, education) exponentially benefiting the wealthy, with the poor getting nothing. That gap only increased as time went on and if one had the connections and tools, upward mobility was possible, as Chile’s boom means less poverty, as noted by many scholars, however that is because they were coming out of socialism so that bump is expected when shifting to capitalism. Capitalism ignores needs of the poor, that is where things ran a muck. Most of these current-day issues are considered government created, and Chileans have no faith in Government’s ability to aid the poor, wishing for more social programs for the disenfranchised, with less Government control over the economy. Neo-liberalism is also to thank for the booming economy but as the same time to blame for the poor sliding into poverty and becoming strapped with debt to keep up with the economic progress Chile made. The government policies are heavily neo-liberalist, favoring privatization, elimination of social programs considered welfare (e.g. pensions/social security for elderly) and free-markets/de-regulation, nothing any of the poor benefited from. This, many Chileans, blame on the USA.
At the core of this problem are key problems that anyone not born rich, in the USA, should be very much in tune with because you hear Bernie Sanders yell it all day:
• Political corruption
• neo-liberal manipulation
• publicly-funded programs eroding in favor of privatization
• Elderly locked out of pension programs
• Cost of living constantly increasing (e.g., housing, healthcare)
• Income inequality (e.g., low wages, wealth distribution)
• Resistance to even increasing public transportation fares
• Education needed to progress is too expensive, leading to huge debt
Chileans believe 7 families own all of Chile and this feeling is why many Chileans hate business leaders. Chile is considered one of the worst in economic inequality in the world given its rank as the best economy in Latin America. Economic inequality is common in many countries, including the USA, the problem with Chile is its population is very educated, unlike many of places like the USA. You cannot sell this lot lies and racism to confuse them, have them fight each other, and not address their issues- thus the protests you see today. Chileans are even educated in school about humanities, again, they were a socialist nation until the 70s. They are trained to be “Woke” and many political institutions trained them to spot the inequality, including all of the political opponents whom ALL JOINED FORCES to help organize these protests and educate people against what the government and private business was doing. This is not American Occupy Wallstreet wuss complaining, this is REAL fighting. I almost envy the Chilean youth for their courage. This is not a simply disagreement with a fare hike, as all of the American media indicates to discredit the Protesters. I said all I said earlier because there is a lot to this current protest that is being ignored, and has been for decades, as they commonly say in Chile, 30 pesos is not the problem 30 years is the problem- a reference to Pinochet times.
What is this 30 pesos thing I just spoke of? In October 2019, the situation really took a turn for the left when the government proposed hikes in fares for public transportation, which uses as tricky formula to dictate when hikes should made. A fare hike of $.04 USD was scheduled for the 6th of October, but in a place where 50% of the country makes well under $550 USD a month, and ones has to take 3 to 5 trains to get to work, many having to leave home at 4am to get to work by 9am, along with the students whom have to commute as well, it was the straw that broke the bull’s back. How is Chile the best Latin American economy but half the population doesn’t make but $550 USD a month? On the 7th of October, the students started to jump the turnstiles in protest of paying any money at all, in a move dubbed “¡Evade!”, as in evading payment of the metro fares (e.g., 10 extra pesos for buses, 30 pesos for the trains) after the $.04 USD increase. The metro authorities responded by sending patrols to stations and by the 15th of October, full-on clashes were happening between the evaders and the authorities, as metro stations started to shut down, rioting turned to store looting and eventually arson of building and key public infrastructure. While this conflict was happening, the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, didn’t even respond. Someone posted pictures of him chilling in a party eating pizza at this grandchild’s birthday, not with a care in the world, and the Protesters took that as a clear sign they were being ignored. That PIZZA-GATE became a protest meme. The President deployed the military policy (Carabineros) to accompany the local police to fight the Protesters, which lead to many arrests, deaths from this point, there was no turning back- the conflict was in full swing in less than only 1 week! This is what fueled the anti-police rhetoric you still see now as many police began to abuse their power and a few were caught being “agent provocateurs” setting locations on fire themselves, with many blaming Protesters for this kind of action. Curfews were created, stores stayed closed and many other places all over the country now has to same uprisings. The protests were now full-on riots.
Another problem is that some of these problems are remnants of the former regime of the Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet as the current constitution for Chile has Pinochet’s legacy all over it, learning toward military rule. There is also the matter of a lot of other minority groups not being properly represented, ever, as a lot of Chile was occupied by German Nazis historically. Nazis operated out of Chile during and after WW2, OPENLY. These people helped promote a lot of anti-Indigenous sentiment in Chile behind the scenes, and remnants of this racism still linger in the country with attitudes towards the indigenous (La Araucana, or Mapuches), and mixed Indigenous people (Mestizos). I know people who clearly are Mestizos but hate the Inidenous populations. They’re poisoned, mentally. Discrimination towards the Indigenous goes back to the start of the Chilean Government in the 1800s. I’ve personally heard people refer to stupid or incompetent people as being “Indians”. So, 17 years of Pinochet (1973 – 1990) was serious oppression of many people, and anything remaining from his fall clearly needed to be addressed, but never was addressed. THIS is what these protests are about too. The Mapuches are the Indigenous people in Southern Chile and had their lands were stolen from them and given to the forestry industry and farmers (especially Araucanía and Bio Bio), under the Chilean Government orchestration of land sales, as well as creation of laws targeting Mapuches, by Pinochet. Pinochet is responsible for anti-Mapuches sentiment in the country, with use of military police against the Indigenous population. Since the turn of the century, the Mapuches have been labeled as “terrorists” and terrorism laws apply equally to them as it does to Islamic extremists – yes THEY (ISIS and Hezbollah) are there in Chile too! See, there are MANY different elements being protested, not just fare evading, and this is what many people do not understand about this fight. Many claim that Pinochet’s regime lead to divisions and hatred of the minority groups with many of these marginalized groups striking out by violent means historically. Both Argentina and Chile are accused with genocide of the Mapuches populations. And now you can understand the far-leaning political elements of this protest that are extremists! See, these protests go much deeper than just mere “students” protesting subwar fares!
If you want to see a doc about the Mapuche, check this one HERE “WALLMAPU LIBRE”.
I mention the things for a reason, the roots trace back to what I noted here, and when you see the Protesters, some of them are coming with flags and rags representing the many oppressed minorities, and much of the chanting and signs being held reference the origins of the problems, which means the Protesters are very aware of their history when going into these conflicts. Interesting enough, much of which you can read from the graffiti on the walls of the city of Santiago, which have been burned or vandalized in some way or another, help speak volumes about the mentalities of the Protesters. So, you can see a lot of the vandalism and arson was against government infrastructure and corporations like drug stores, banks and stores. This unrest has set the economy of Chile back, and a LOT of infrastructure is ruined. One of my buddies has lost his job due to the protests, as his employer cannot afford further financial loss and laid him off- WITHOUT PAYING HIM HIS LAST PAY CHECK! Others were kicked out of their apartments because they couldn’t afford the rent. When things turn to desperation, that’s when the protests turn out of control.
Women’s rights are not properly respected in Chile, and it is very clear, by both the anger I witnessed personally, and by history of “machismo” in all of Latin America. Feminists are riding behind movements such as METOO and Argentina’s “Ni una menos” (not 1 woman less) movements to protest sexual harassment and sexism, Latin machismo (rape culture and victim shaming), abortion rights and domestic violence, primarily. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera himself, while creating a law to combat “Femicide”, demonstrated what was considered insensitivity toward women when attempting to placate to women when passing a new law. The law is called ‘Gabriela Law’, named after 17 year old Gabriela Alcaíno who was murdered by an ex on June 12, 2018, along with the ex stabbing her mom in the process. While announcing the law, the President made a very shocking statement in which he appeared to be victim-shaming women who are abused by men, saying “Sometimes it is not just men’s desire to abuse, but also the women’s position to be abused,”
AYOOOO!! YIKES!! First of all, Gabriela’s killer boyfriend broke into her home and committed the crime, there is nothing complicit about this act of violence toward her. Abuse is not just about wanting to stop it and it suddenly stops, for a victim, there is mental, verbal and physical abuse at play sometimes, as well as things not be in a woman’s control, and this statement by the President clearly ignores the ills of domestic abuse entirely when stating that abused women are willing participants in it. Chilean laws, at the time, dictated that the female murder cannot be ruled a femicide because the killer was only a boyfriend, not her husband, and the killer and Gabriella didn’t live together. WTF??! And NOW you can understand how behind the times the female protections are in Latin America. This feminist protest was HUGE in Chile, and the themes they’ve been singing are spreading to the world. When the protests on March 8th (8M) happened, the world was watching and singing along! You’ll hear Protesters often singing a song “Un Violador en Tu Camino” which means “A Rapist in Your Path”. OUCH!! The history of it and lyrics are here. It was written by the local Chilean group Las Tesis but it extended to American women singing it towards Harvey Weinstein in his trial in the USA.
You might wonder about the rape portion of that song and why it is a theme in these protests, well it also has ties to back to police forces of Pinochet when they kidnapped people on the streets or from their homes. These aggressors were interrogating socialists and many females were sexually assaulted and tortured by the guards and policemen, and symbolically, the male patriarch sits by and allows harm to come to innocent women, without proper response for such crimes as sexual abuse, despite progress like electing female presidents like former President Michelle Bachele. So why the feminist action now? Well, because there are women disappearing again, with today’s police, with every human rights organization citing hundreds of violations by Chilean authorities related to torturing. Claims of sexual abuse began to rise again with the recent riots, which are currently being investigated. You could see all kinds of agendas represented in the marching,, this is a deep conflict!
The strongest of protests have simmered down a bit, which were in 2019. There was a lot of damage done, both to people and property after 2019. After a short hiatus, the protests came back in March 2020, when I arrived. This time around, everyone warned me about crime to innocent people, by protesters. Multiple local people told me to tightly guard my point-n-shoot camera, and especially my cell phone, when taking pics out in public. I didn’t think much of it until I watched 2 people get their phones snatched by people on bikes, in the course of walking 5 streets. Multiple times, protesters who were lingering around on the streets trying to find ways to catch us slipping, so they could rob us. This is new, the crime and harassment of innocent people, by left-over protesters after curfew, and if that continues, protesters will look terrible to the public and be seen as a nuisance. Then they will lose public support, so doing crime is NOT a smart thing and diminishes the importance of being a protester. While I could, as I walked around town, I took note of the graffiti, to try to make sense of jargon of the protests. With help from some of my buddies, I was able to understand some of the slang or sayings written on the walls, and what was said by protesters. It quickly helped me see just how many different fights were entangled in these protests, and surely wasn’t just mad student:
The most commonly seen word, written in graffiti is “Evade”, which is a reference to not paying the metro fare hikes by jumping the turnstiles, which started the confrontations that lead to the protests in 2019.
There is a little bit of a twist with this word. Dignity as in where is the dignity of the hikes in costs given the lack of money people have, but also, it’s the death of protester Abel Acuña, on November 15th, 2019 after he was overcome by tear gas, suffered a heart attack. When the ambulance came to take him, he was being treated by SAMU medics. The Protesters came to give cover to Abel and medics but police responded by firing off tear gas, shooting rubber bullets and power water cannons blasts, in all of the confusion. This led to Abel’s death at 29 years of age, because the medics couldn’t work safely. This was a major event for protesters, and it happened, in all places, a place named “The Plaza of Dignity”.
ANTI-POLICE SENTIMENT: YUTA / POCO(A) / MILICOS / ASESINO / ACAB / 1312
The hate for the police is through the roof, the military (milicos) and the local police, both called either PACOS (male) or PACAS (female). They’re also called ASESINOs which is assassins. You will also see “ACAB” which means All Cops Are Bastards , which used to be associated with something neo-nazis used a lot, ironically enough. “1312” is interchangeable with ACAB and is a number substitute for the letters A(1).C(3).A(1).B(2). These are all “F*(k The Police-esque” graffiti and posters protesting the use of excessive force by the police and military police. Even if you are someone protecting your property from protesters, and are armed (Yellow Jackets), you’re hated. This comes from numerous complaints to the handling of the protesters, which hasn’t been pleasant, and with the government giving full immunity to the police who kill or hurt protesters, that might put a battery pack in the back of malicious police.
BLOODY or MISSING EYES
Where you see anti-cop art, you will see art depictions of a character missing an eye or with a bloody eye. Even in the protests, you saw people wearing fake (or maybe real) eye-patches and bandages over their eyes to symbolize the police action against protesters in the earlier stages of the protests. You look everywhere and you can see graffiti featuring cartoon and photo characters with missing eyes, or with red paint leaking from a shot by some object, in the eye (symbolizing blood), or existing photos/statues with red paint on the face or one eye. This symbolizes the taking of an eye by the police when they shoot the crowds with rubber bullets and end up taking out someone’s eye out. 357 people were reported as suffering eye injuries when their eyes were shot out by cops, which prompted the government stop using the rubber bullets to repel the rebels. This is why you will see more tear gas being used against the protesters now (which I personally felt and choked on while out there), and also water cannons being used to blast people to kingdom come, reminiscent of USA civil rights hosing of African Americans. Oh, and the rubber bullets being used were found to NOT be 100% rubber, they were actually only 20% rubber and 80% LEAD!!!
SI+APRUEBA(O) / NUEVA CONSTITUCION: I approve / approve!
A new constitution that is divorced from the antiquated Pinochet regime’s era. The pro-Pinochet era constitution is outdated, according to the Protesters and needs to encompass the greater progressive change that needs to happen to ensure that people get a fair opportunity to progress in life.
NO+AFP / PENSION PLANS
This one is different argument that what is normally talked about in the news you read that is not from Chile. The AFP. An AFP is a pension fund that people should get when they retire, like the pension fund/401k/IRA you see in many cities around the world. It’s supposed to be something where the state, the employer and employee all get to pitch in and will reward the worker heavily in the end. Well this isn’t so rewarding for the elder citizens, thus there is a push back called “NO+AFP” (and a group named after this, to reject the 6 pension plan companies that will leave the elderly broke. You will get about 70% of your income you’ve made back in your pension normally, in other countries, but in Chile, the worker will be lucky to get 38%, and likely only 28% for women, due to inequality. A major claim is that AFPs use your funds to improve their own investments, in the backend, without you knowing, and pay off officials so that their alleged illegal practices continue. This has gone on since the Social Security Reform in 2008, which saw social security become a privatized industry- something American President GW Bush was trying to promote in the USA earlier in 2005 and FAILED to slip by people. Well they actually passed in Chile, thus the people protesting NO+AFP.
Sename is short for National Service for Minors, a service of the government is responsible for the handling of minors, in cases of adoption, housing prior to adoption and for any matters related to adolescent rights prior to entering the judicial system. Sometimes, the kids in Sename are troubled, so they need extra attention to address behavior. Sename is reportedly not well run, with 100% overcrowding in all of the housing that the orphaned children and held in. Because these kids are not receiving special care, more than 3,801 minors were reportedly abusing drugs and alcohol. The Sename centers are littered with issues, from workers abusing and ultimately killing children, to children trying to commit suicide, to many cases of sexual abuse and rape of children. Sename is a total disaster, so you will see many references to this in graffiti.
NO+CAE / Bicycling
No+CAE is calling for reform in how the debt payment system Chilean students face, is being run currently. CAE is a private loan a student takes, which is controlled by the Chilean Government, to pay for college, which of course means a DEBT that students owe when they’re just starting out in life. Upon completing school, that student has a mountain of debt, and assuming she gets a job, will not spend a large portion of her life paying back these loans, on top of many other loans she’s taken on. WHY? Because Chile is one of the worst countries in Latin America when it comes to predatory lending. Their system, like the whole credit system scheme, is designed to get one stuck in debt so that the predators can benefit on delinquent payments and defaults of the loans- not to get you a great score for economic development. In Chile, taking on debt is a means of survival, not just to participate in consumption. The average Chilean is not likely to be able to get a loan for a house or something to wealth build, but if one wanted to buy meaningless consumerism garbage that she won’t need, she only needs to show her RUN (like US Social Security card) to a retail store and BAAAAAAAAM! instant credit! A large population of Chileans are in huge debt, especially after capitalism was introduced to the masses, after the Pinochet regime, and most earn much less money that the debt accrued. Seriously, Chileans saw debt raise over 73% per household by 2019. There is no regulation there, so all you have now is predatory lending! To pay outstanding loan, you get a new card, and another for that new loan, in a repetitive process known as “bicycling”. You don’t improve, you buy into debt to keep the bicycle moving. That’s perfect for the modern-day version of loan-sharking known as the credit industry, who make their money on your inability to pay or to default on a loan. For others, to progress in society, consumption is your only way to move up, and that is what the system is based on, no different from USA- except we have protections in the USA. It is a hugely important issue and a broken system that needs reform because consumption is out of control there. Good luck with that though… Chile’s only export is COPPER, so consumption is a large part of the economy. Student debt is something we in the USA are also fighting with- see Bernie Sanders’ agenda. A lot of issues Bernie is talking is what’s on the agenda for Chile. How soon until this violent wave of student protests sweep the USA?
No+Migajas is “No Crumbs/scraps” which is mentioned when referring to President Piñera’s plans not being complete plans to help the civilians, rather how they are crumbs given to the little people to pacify them, while the weather continue to prosper.
I hope a speedy recovery can happen because Chile has a lot to offer and a lot of people are going to need to be cooled here. As you can see, there are a LOT more people involved in these protests, and everyone can’t be reduced to kids who are just behaving poorly. You can read the reports that showed even people who have some money have supported the protesters. However, now, there is a sour taste in the mouths of many, and this is turning into the anger that I witnessed when people saw me there, an obvious outsider, or when thugs were lurking, trying to pull off robberies. The fact that a woman who doesn’t know me, sees me and just starts charging and throws a bottle at me, is NUTS because I don’t look like the police, nor do I look like someone from Chile. If the people become more and more violent, I’m not sure how Chile is going to safely rebound and not hurt the great economy, which at that point, protesters will find themselves with less and less allies. At that point, their efforts will be as wasted as the American Occupy Wallstreet protesters.
I’ll continue to update the page with more sayings and social issues, as I process the remainder the material, during my self quarantine period to ensure I’m not with the Corona nonsense. Stay tuned so you’re never maladjusted.
As always, the finished products can be found on the main site of www.drunkphotography.com.