Live chanting made into song.
An spontaneous revolution started in Chile and there is no going back. Chile Woke Up!
Chile is a small, rich, highly educated Catholic country. Its population is also very tolerant and patient in many ways. Chile, famous for its excellent wines, agricultural products and the largest producer of copper in the world, has also been the initiator of social changes that have resonated as a world model for social advancement and evolution within a relatively peaceful frame. In its short history, Chile has tested social models for change and evolution that has not been always approved by the Unites States but continue to advance positively towards social equality and prosperity at a record speed.
SANTIAGO, Chile — After three weeks of nationwide protests against the government, President Sebastián Piñera of Chile said he would initiate a process to draft a new Constitution for the country.
The president’s announcement, made on Sunday, came hours after meeting with lawmakers from his coalition, and was the first time the government expressed a willingness to replace the current Constitution. But for many, it was too little, too late.
“Piñera has characteristically reacted late to the crisis, but I value that he is now open to a new Constitution,” said Jaime Quintana, the president of the Senate.
The demand for a new Constitution has been a recurring theme throughout the protests, which were set off by a 4 cent hike in the subway fare, but quickly turned into widespread demonstrations by thousands against persistent inequality and the free market policies inherited from the Pinochet dictatorship.
As of Nov. 10, five people have been killed by either the police or the military, while 1,000 have been injured in police shootings since the protests began in mid-October, according to the National Institute for Human Rights, an independent state institution. Another 767 have been injured through beatings, tear gas or other means, the institute said, and more than 5,600 people have been arrested since the protests began.
Rubber pellets shot by the police directly at people’s faces have left almost 200 with serious injuries or blind in one eye. On Saturday, Gustavo Gatica, a 21-year-old student, was shot in both eyes, prompting protests outside the clinic where he was treated.
The human rights institute has sent observers to the protests and received over 2,800 reports of police beatings, threats, rape and other forms of sexual violence, verbal and physical abuses and simulated executions.
On Sunday, John Cobin, a United States citizen, fired several shots at demonstrators, and injured one, during a peaceful march in the upscale beach resort of Reñaca, near the city of Viña del Mar, where he lives. He moved to Chile in 1996.
Mr. Cobin is in detention and charged with attempted murder. The shooting spurred violent protests in Reñaca for hours.
Chile’s Constitution was designed behind closed doors during the Pinochet dictatorship and provides a limited role for the state in the economy.
Gonzalo Blumel, the interior minister, said on Sunday that the government hoped to set up a “constituent congress,” in which a group of legislators would decide on a new text “with participation from citizens,” and submit it for approval through a plebiscite.
But this proposed method for a new Constitution is a far cry from demonstrators’ demands for direct citizen participation in creating a new Constitution.
Self-convened local assemblies, or cabildos, are being held all over the country, often in parks, plazas and even on sidewalks, to analyze the roots of the discontent, to prioritize issues and to discuss how to create a new Constitution.
Over 15,000 such assemblies have taken place since October and their conclusions are being collected by Unidad Social, a coalition of nearly 130 labor, professional and social organizations, as a way to set forth a coherent, unified set of national demands.
Earlier this month, 330 of the 345 local municipal governments resolved to organize a national vote next month, in which people will be asked about different issues, including the need for a new Constitution and the way to achieve it.
Congress has responded to the crisis by pushing through bills aimed at reducing inequality and the cost of living and enhancing democracy. These include new laws to lower the workweek from 44 to 40 hours, to raise real estate taxes for properties worth over $1 million and to reduce prices for medicine, among other measures.
President Sebastián Piñera of Chile, left, in Santiago on Monday.
Esteban Felix/Associated Press
The New York Times
Published Nov. 3, 2019 Updated Nov. 4, 2019, 10:54 a.m. ET
By Amanda Taub
Photographs by Tomas Munita
SANTIAGO, Chile — The suddenness of the protests, the anger that spilled onto the streets every day, might have been surprising anywhere. But in the country often lauded as Latin America’s great economic success story, it has shocked the world.
For three weeks, Chile has been in upheaval. One day alone, more than a million people took to the streets of Santiago, the capital.
Perhaps the only people not shocked are Chileans. In the chaos, they see a reckoning. The promise that political leaders from the left as well as right have made for decades — that free markets would lead to prosperity, and prosperity would take care of other problems — has failed them.
“Chile woke up,” thousands of protesters chanted one recent Sunday afternoon in Santiago’s O’Higgins Park.
For a while, the promise seemed to be working. The country moved from dictatorship to democracy in 1990, and decades of economic growth and democracy followed, with one government peacefully replacing another.
But that growth did not reach all Chileans.
Inequality is still deeply entrenched. Chile’s middle class is struggling with high prices, low wages, and a privatized retirement system that leaves many older people in bitter poverty. And a series of corruption and tax-evasion scandals have eroded faith in the country’s political and corporate elite.
“This is a sort of legitimacy crisis,” said Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, a political scientist at Diego Portales University in Santiago. “People start to say, ‘O.K., why is it we have to pay that, and the very rich are not paying their fair share?”
“And at the same time, we have a political class that’s totally out of touch,” Mr. Kaltwasser added.
In an attempt to restore order, President Sebastián Piñera scrapped the four-cent subway fare increase that set off the initial demonstrations. Then he deployed the military in Chile’s streets for the first time since the country’s transition to democracy.
When that didn’t quell the protests, Mr. Piñera went on television to ask for forgiveness and promise higher pensions, better health coverage, higher taxes for the rich and pay cuts for politicians. Later, he asked his cabinet to resign.
But demonstrators were not convinced.
At the protest in O’Higgins park, that was certainly the view of Luis Ochoa Pérez, who was selling flags near the entrance.
“The abuses haven’t stopped,” he said, “so we have to go into the streets.”
His best-selling flag, of his own design, demanded Mr. Piñera’s resignation.
Minutes later, it sold out.
Javiera López Layana, 24, an activist and student at the University of Chile who helped organize the protest, was buzzing with excitement.
Many of the speakers had used the term “el pueblo” when describing the Chilean people, she pointed out. To an outsider, it seemed like a tiny detail. But that term, which in Latin America is associated with the left, had been taboo in Chile for as long as Ms. López could remember. Its resurgence seemed as if it could be a harbinger of more significant change.
The end of the Pinochet dictatorship, in 1990, came with an implicit caveat: Military rule would end, but the socialist policies of Salvador Allende, the leftist president Gen. Augusto Pinochet had deposed in a coup, would not return. Subsequent governments preserved the extreme laissez-faire economic system imposed in the 1970s and 1980s.
But today, widespread public anger over the inequality and economic precarity that many Chileans see as a consequence of that system means that conservative economic policies may be more of a threat to political stability than a means of ensuring it.
“It’s not 30 pesos, it’s 30 years” has become one of the slogans of the protests — a reference to the proposed metro fare increase that set off the crisis and to the three decades since military rule ended.
The country’s median salary is now about $540 per month — below the poverty line for a family of four, said Marco Kremerman, an economist with the Fundación Sol, a left-leaning think tank in Santiago. Median payments in the national private pension program, the only safety net for retirees, are about $200 per month.
There is broad agreement, among protesters and experts alike, that the country needs structural reforms. Replacing the current Constitution, which was adopted under the dictatorship, would also signify that Chile is emerging from the 30-year shadow of the Pinochet regime.
“When we’re in debt, living in misery and impoverished, we don’t necessarily think of the Constitution,” Ms. López said. “But in the end, we need to make changes.”
That evening, Ms. López and her family gathered around the kitchen table at their home in Lo Espejo, a working-class municipality far from the city center, and discussed the protest movement.
Seeing the military once again patrolling the streets had brought painful memories, long repressed, to the surface.
Ms. López’s grandfather revealed to her, for the first time, that he had been arrested during the military regime, and his sister killed by the government, because they had hidden a leftist politician and his family, then helped them escape to safety abroad.
Her father described how dictatorship had divided Lo Espejo in his youth. One neighbor, who still lived nearby, was interrogated and tortured by a man they had both grown up with. Another had a sister who worked for DINA, the feared secret police.
In part because of those experiences, they have been cautious about joining the protests, even if they support the goals.
“Javiera’s generation, they grew up without fear of the dictatorship,” said Ms. López’s mother, Pamela Inés Layana Guendelman. “She’s fearless.”
“I’m not afraid,” Ms. López said.
“But it enrages me” she said, as tears welled in her eyes. “Every time I go to a protest in Plaza Italia, or a protest in La Alameda, I have to come back here, to Lo Espejo, and see the same crap, the same misery, that has been there for many governments. And nothing has changed at all.”
In many ways, Ms. López personifies the contradictions of Chile’s political crisis.
Her parents and grandfather strained to send her to private schools, she was the first in her family to go to college, and she now hopes to attend graduate school. At least on paper, Ms. López seems to be a success story, proof of the benefits that hard work is supposed to bring under Chile’s free-market system.
But when she reached the University of Chile, she said, she confronted an educational system that seemed designed to keep her in Lo Espejo forever. Though a scholarship covered much of her tuition, she has still had to borrow money to complete her degree. Getting a master’s will mean borrowing even more.
“Education was supposed to be our ladder out of poverty,” she said. “But the debt turns out to be a heavy backpack.” Her background may also dilute the value of her degree: Employers are widely believed to discriminate against candidates from poorer social classes.
Families like hers have become a new constituency in Chile, one that has sacrificed to succeed in a supposedly meritocratic system, only to find that they are still excluded from its benefits.
“There is this discourse of merit, of striving, of how ‘you should get up earlier,’” she said. “But even if we get up early, nothing is going to change.”
One recent day, at the near-shuttered University of Chile, as clouds of tear gas billowed outside, student leaders scrolled through Instagram and Twitter posts announcing demonstrations.
“We are the generation for whom the joy never came,” said one of them, Nicole Martínez, 26. Her words were a bitter twist on “joy is coming,” the slogan from the campaign that ended military rule.
But the Chilean political crisis is not unique to Chile. It carries unmistakable echoes of a problem that is at the center of political conflict all over the developed world.
As free trade, new technologies, the rise of China, and other seismic changes have reshaped the world’s economies, political divisions have emerged between those who gain from the current system and those who do not.
In much of Europe and the United States, onetime industrial towns declined as economic growth accrued to large, globally connected cities, instead. For many, even those who have seen modest objective improvements in their own standards of living, watching others surge ahead while they struggle has left them feeling angry and disillusioned. In many countries, trust in institutions is falling, surveys show.
The same economic changes have shattered longstanding political coalitions, weakening mainstream parties. Far-right populists and other outsider politicians have moved to fill the vacuum left behind.
And with no effective channels for public anger, mass frustration has erupted into protest movements like France’s Yellow Vests and the demonstrations in Chile.
The Chilean movement, like the Yellow-Vest movement, has no clear leaders, said Ms. Martínez, with information mostly spreading through people’s social networks.
“It is a social explosion,” she said.
The fearless generation, rich and poor young people took to the streets
Los Angeles, California, based organization promoting change through music. PlayingforChange.com
Although we did not play there, we enjoyed the bands who played at the beach.
Cala Llonga, Ibiza, September 2018. Playing for Change event.
Music is the language of love and joy!
The party continues in this beautiful island