Another episode of the GlobalSmackDown is available on Falvey Memorial Library’s YouTube channel. You can check out the highlight below. Dr. Tim Horner presents the GlobalSmackDown every Monday from 2:00pm – 2:23pm in Speakers’ Corner.
GlobalSmackDown 11/11/19 Protests in Chile
Synopsis written by Dr. Tim Horner
It’s not as if a single dramatic event happened in the last week in Chile; they have been happening for weeks. But events have been escalating fast since mid-October when a groups of middle school children refused to pay their train fare, jumping turnstiles (1) and ‘evading’ police officers dressed in riot gear (2), as they chased them through terminals in Santiago. Again, we are confronted with a single act of the government, in this case 4% hike in subway fares, igniting mass protests in the streets of cities and towns all across Chile. It’s about more than the fare.
In the week that followed those protests in October, Chile’s president, Sebastian Piñera, declared a state of emergency in the capital (3). It was lifted after a week, but Piñera has continued to increase aggression against protesters and Chileans are not backing down. As of now, 19 protesters have been ‘officially’ killed with thousands injured and arrested. And even though Piñera rescinded the fare hike and offered to reshuffle his cabinet, protesters are now demanding he step down as president (4). There is no indication that they are going to stop (5) or that Piñera is going to step down. The military appears, for the moment, to be under his control.
The context for these protests run quite deep, but income inequality (6) seems to be at the root of the discontent. These protests are being seen as a rejection of the neoliberal economic policies that were put into place during the Pinochet years (1973–1990). On the surface, Chile looks like one of the more established, stable countries (7) in South America. But the people of Chile are responding, in homegrown ways (8), to the decline in their standard of living. The most telling indicators are a growing economic inequality coupled with a stagnant, elite leadership for the last twenty years.
President Piñera’s heavy-handed approach to these protests have not helped. It has ironically shown him to be weak in the face of the public discontent. This has created a new political solidarity where many deep cultural discontents (9) are now finding their voices amplified. This is especially true for the Mapuche (10) people of Chile. This indigenous minority has been marginalized and persecuted since colonialization. There is also a growing wave of destruction of the symbols of colonization. This includes not only statues of 16th CE Spaniards but also the churches (11) that came with colonists.
1. (YouTube) https://bit.ly/2qWFpDL
2. (The Guardian) https://bit.ly/33OQ5Dh
3. (Independent) https://bit.ly/2rFJywk
4. (YouTube) https://bit.ly/33PJpEH
5. (Foreign Policy) https://bit.ly/2Xh1d9C
6. (CIA) https://bit.ly/3569vnp
7. (Trading Economics) https://bit.ly/32NOKuQ
8. (YouTube) https://bit.ly/32OlhkL
9. (The Nation) https://bit.ly/2Ob0l21
10. (PRI) https://bit.ly/353c3Tg
11. (DW) https://bit.ly/2CFVOPQ
The GlobalSmackDown is presented every Monday afternoon (2:00pm – 2:23pm EST) in Falvey Memorial Library at Villanova University. The presentation, co-sponsored by ACS program and Falvey Memorial Library, is created and compiled by Dr. Tim Horner from the Center for Peace and Justice Education.