Chile: From protest to insurgency

Every protest against inequality, or the perceived assault on former “equality” and the arrogance and blindness of politicians, is today a potential spark for rebellion and insurrection. Today it is chile, lebanon, hong kong; just yesterday, it was ecuador, haiti, nicaragua, france. And if we push back the calendar to the beginning of this century, then it may rightfully be said, with Alain Badiou, that we live in times of riots.

Yet, we believe that there is more at stake here than an “awakening of history” or the need for “political organisation” capable of transforming riots into insurrections and history. But this something more we will have to return to in a future post.

For now, news from Chile’s growing insurrection …

Chile under a state of emergency

A las barricadas (21/10/2019)

Since Saturday, Chile has lived under a state of emergency in 5 regions of the country. The military is patrolling the streets and there are reports of police and military abuse of all kinds. After a week of protests due to the fare rise for public transport, President Piñera wanted to pull off a “coup d’etat” and end the protests on the fast track. Not only has he not succeeded, but he has opened a crisis in the country of great proportions. Tomorrow [today], Monday, an attempt will be made to carry out a general strike, initiated by the port unions. To follow the events of Chile, the following twitter tweets are recommended:

#toquedequeda#ChileSeCanso#ChileProtests#EstadoDeEmergencia#ChileSeLevanta#ChileDespertó#RenunciaPiñera#ChileResiste

There is an environment of psychosis environment in the air, fueled by the media, with organised looting of distribution chains, banks or markets and also attacks on police stations and banking centers. However, in neighborhoods won by drug traffickers, there is fighting among those at the bottom, giving the feeling of chaos. These cases are used to justify the presence of the military in the street. At the moment there are 3 dead in a fire [as of today, 8 dead, with five more dead found in a burnt warehouse; The Guardian 20/10/2019] and more than 700 people arrested.

In this climate, leftist organisations also intend to move forward. The port unions announced a strike from Monday on, to which they will try to bring other labour sectors together, in a national strike. This crisis may end up breaking the bipartisan center-right and center-left system that has governed the country since the end of the dictatorship.

In Chile, some libertarian organisations have set out manifestos:

Before the social revolt registered during the last days in the Chilean region, the Santiago Anarchist Federation declares:

1- We are witness to the collapse of the neoliberal experiment, thousands of voices echo in the streets demanding dignity. This outbreak is not accidental, it is the dignified response of the people to the precariousness of our lives, the looting of nature, the devastation of territories and ecosystems.

The struggle that has been unleashed in the streets is not only because of the increase in the price of the underground, but for all of the years of humiliation, deprivation and mockery by the bourgeoisie. Today peoples have risen in all territories, dignity will never again be taken from us.

This social fire was produced by the recurring and rebellious action of secondary students, who have been subjected to the militarisation of their educational spaces. Young people without fear, full of rebellion and courage, have generated this spark that has burned “the oasis of democracy” in Latin America.

2- The government’s response has been the most savage and extreme repression; decreeing the state of emergency and night curfew, and in turn, having filled the streets of their lackeys, police and militias, they have once again pointed their weapons against our class.

We will not be intimidated. Yesterday, Saturday, all the territories resisted in the streets, ignoring state terrorism. Full of courage we have protected our populations from unleashed repression.

Unfortunately the repression has hit us hard; thousands of arrests, injured and dead people, has been the balance of terror launched on our peoples. Again the minions of the State/Capital have fired against the peoples in struggle, fulfilling their historical role of defending the bourgeoisie and their property when the class demands their rights; they will be eternally despised.

3- It has become absolutely necessary to articulate autonomous and grassroots organisations; assemblies and territorial coordination are the organisational spaces that we must raise up in order to project the fight and prevent this social explosion from being co-opted by political parties, who in a faint-hearted and opportunistic way have been absent from the streets and have only yelled through social networks. The construction of organised community is necessary in order to strengthen our struggles and to parry those who have sold us for positions of power.

4 – We call to maintain the mobilization and making a qualitative leap by calling the GENERAL STRIKE, which allows us to articulate the different sectors in struggle; students, settlers, workers and marginalized. The struggle will deliver to us what the bourgeoisie denies us. We call to continue fighting to advance the recovery of our social rights, eliminate the AFPs, abolish the water code, reject the Social Integration Law and the TPP-11, socialize the transportation system and put an end to laws and measures repressive such as; safe classroom, anti-terrorism law, state internal security law, State of Exception and curfew.

Clear the streets of the police!

General Strike Now!

To root Anarchism!

To build organized community!

Long live the struggle of the peoples!

SANTIAGO ANARCHIST FEDERATION

While evading payment for the subway is criminalised, the ruling class evades taxes in the hundreds of billions. While the recovery of the poor before the multinationals is repressed, the ruling class pillages the territories. For this reason, it is no longer only the secondary students who lucidly and combatively mobilise against the rise in transport costs that drains the working class. And it is not only against the rise in fares of the subway that we mobilise; it is also against the theft of the AFPs [Chilean national private pension system], for access to health and housing, for the defense of territories, water and land.

We say to the secondary students who started the movement: They will never be alone again in the revolt.

As the Sindicato de Oficios Varios [Trade Union of Various Trades], an organisation that has its roots in the struggles of anarcho-syndicalism, we join this concentration for Monday, November 21 in Plaza de Armas, 6:00 p.m.

Against capitalism and the repression of the State:

MUTUAL SUPPORT, ORGANISATION AND DIRECT ACTION

SOV Santiago

From the CrimethInc. Collective (19/10/2019) …

Evade and Struggle: Riots Break Out against Austerity in Chile

A Report from the Streets of Santiago

In Chile, in response to student protests against an increase in the cost of public transportation, the President has returned the country to dictatorship-era martial law, putting soldiers on the streets and threatening protesters with decades in prison. The following report comes directly from the streets of Santiago at the epicenter of the fighting.

Friday’s conflagration took place following a week of action against fare increases under the slogan “evade” or evade y lucha (“dodge the fare and struggle”), which now appears on nearly every wall downtown in spray paint. It all started as a playful response to the government increasing the cost of living by hiking transport costs. Almost entirely student led, the mobilization has included mass evasions in metro stations in which students run through the turnstiles together and hold open the gates to encourage everyone else to join them in riding for free. Police have reacted with tear gas and batons.

On Friday, protesters responded by targeting the stations themselves, breaking apart the gates and turnstiles and even using them as weapons to defend themselves from police attacks. Many metro lines shut down; mid-afternoon, we received word that the metro will be shut down for the whole weekend.

With some buses still running, the lines at bus stops swelled to overflowing, with long wait times. Protest marches began taking the streets as metros were shut down, causing more delays for the busses still transporting people. Many people started walking on the roads instead; it began to feel like a snow day, when everyone is just out and in the streets, a strange and ecstatic energy.

Meanwhile, harrowing footage circulated showing a student shot by police with live rounds during a fare protest. Her condition remains unknown. Unrest was reported to be especially intense in her neighborhood, las Parcelas. As of this writing, there have been multiple reports of people shot by police.

As the sun went down, the city caught fire. Busses burned. Blockades appeared in the street in many neighborhoods where neighbors came out to bang pots and pans (a traditional form of protest known as cacerolazo), burning couches, tires, and whatever else they could find in the area. Rebellion spread throughout the city, much farther than the original metro centers. Clashes with police escalated throughout the night until the president declared the state of emergency, recalling the military dictatorship of 1973-1990 during which thousands of people were “disappeared” and murdered.

The headquarters of the Italian energy company Enel, over a dozen stories high, caught fire, though the cause is not confirmed yet. While some assume it was torched by arsonists, others speculate that the blaze may have been ignited by a tear gas canister.

The entity that controls the Santiago Metro network has already confirmed that there will be no service over the weekend, and the Chilean student federation has called a nationwide strike for Monday. As of now, it remains to be seen whether the unrest will spread and deepen, but if the military kills someone, the country is bound to explode. The memories of the dictatorship are too fresh, too raw, for people to stand by passively.

Chileans remember the betrayals of democracy too well to be appeased by a simple reform like a reduction in public transit fare. After the massive clashes in Ecuador, it appears that things are returning to normal now that the Ecuadorian president has walked back the austerity measures in his budget proposal; but this outbreak of defiance shows that anger has been simmering for a long time in Chile, and it will not be easy to silence it.

Chile has a long history of social struggle dating back to its colonial origins. Today’s combative social movements are descended from the resistance to the mass-murdering military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet; their lineage has continued uninterrupted because the transition to democracy in 1990 was not accompanied by any meaningful shift in the economic policies and violent policing that impose extreme disparities in wealth and power. This particular revolt is reminiscent of the uprising in Brazil in 2013, when a million people took the streets to protest an increase in the cost of public transportation.

We will see what happens next.

For images of the clashes, these four Instagram accounts have provided consistent updates.

For background on Chile’s longstanding combative social movements:

The Student Movement in Chile: From Dictatorship to Democracy, the Flame of Revolt

The Chicago Conspiracy—A documentary addressing the legacy of the military dictatorship in Chile, revisiting the stories of the young people who were killed by the Pinochet regime as a backdrop to the history of the military dictatorship. The film follows this narrative thread into current forms of social conflict including the student movement, the neighborhoods that resisted the dictatorship and continue to resist capitalism and state oppression, and the continuing defiance of the indigenous Mapuche people.

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