Over the last two weeks, what began as a high-school student-led metro fare-evasion protest in Santiago, Chile erupted into a nation-wide explosion of popular social unrest. Thirty years since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship, neoliberal capitalist democracy has left Chile as one of the most unequal countries in the world.
Half of the population survives on less than 200 dollars a month, half of the already low $400 a month minimum wage. Meanwhile, the top 1% earn 30% of all income, and the wealth of the richest Chileans is more comparable to that of the wealthiest Western Europeans. Private power and concentrated capital have looted the country of its natural resources, while students and workers fall into debt to pay for education, healthcare, food, and rising costs of living.
As protests erupted in cities all across the city, thousands took to the streets, and right-wing president Sebastián Piñera unleashed the military to violently suppress them, demonstrating the continuation of the militarized security apparatus of the by-gone dictatorship. More than two dozen people have been killed, thousands injured from beatings and gun-wounds, and thousands more detained. Reports of tortures and rapes reveal the most egregious expressions of sexualized and gendered violence perpetuated by the Chilean state, as well as the settler-colonial violence committed against the Mapuche people and indigenous communities in Chile. Despite all this, such violence has not stopped the popular fervor, and protests continued to spontaneously grow, culminating in the largest demonstration in the history of Chile when 2 million Chileans took the streets last Friday. Now, the movement has created a potentially revolutionary situation, where not only the resignation of the president is on the table, but a new constitution and a radical transformation of Chilean society will be fought for in the coming days.
Come through for a conversation about the current events and their root causes to examine the crisis of neoliberalism and how we can make connections to our own struggles in the United States. Topics will include the role of feminists, of students, of anti-capitalists, of unions, and of others in the Chilean uprising, the role of U.S. interventionism in Latin America, the role of social movements in capitalist democracies, the culture of protest, and what it means to organize in 2019. Alina Duarte, a Mexican journalist currently residing in Chile, will call in to help contextualize the protests and provide insight into the current political situation.
Food will be provided! The space is provided by GLAHR, and the address is 7 Dunwoody, Atlanta GA, in lot #9.