Contributed by Joe Montero
Chile, which ignited the latest wave of unrest spread through a large part of South America, is still on the boil, and most of its population refusing to give up their effort for change.
President Pinera now looks like an ineffectual and isolated leader. He sacked his cabinet and a[pointed a new one. It has changed nothing.
The government isn’t falling yet. But it has shifted from tough and uncompromising words, to increasing indecisiveness. Reeling from fear, it has attempted to placate the population with promises of some changes, including the framing of new constitution. But it is too little and too late. No one is buying it.
Out on the street, people want much more. They have built and sustained their movement through network of collectives reaching into every neighbourhood. They will not accept token measures that lead to no real change.
They want change that will transform Chile into a nation that ends years of neoliberalism, control in the hands of a few, and change that improves their lives.
One of the contingents marching towards the massive rally sat the central Plaza de la Dignidad in Santiago on 6 December
Video from Global Forest Coalition
Embattled Pinera has been forced to say he will make some changes and look at putting forward a new constitution.
He is not believed. cosmetic changes and a constitution decided by the same politicians and those who dominate the economy is not going to deliver the change Chile wants.
This is change that ordinary people take part in forming, and this includes having a voice in shaping the new constitution.
Pinera has is not offering this, and the police and army continue their brutality in the streets.
And at the Plaza de la Dignidad
Video from AFP News Agency
The massive street rallies, defying all attempts to prevent them and break them up, are still occurring.
So is the brutalisation of civilians. The conservative count at the end on November was 26 dead and 13,000 injured. More than a 300 had been shot in one or both eyes by rubber bullets and lost sight. Some in both eyes. Rapes while under custody are still going on, and the number of those disappearing is rising. The toll count will go up.
Women perform spectacular flash action against the abuse of women on 5 December in Santiago, and it has become a hit around the world. The rights of women have become an important part of the new movement.
Video from Ruptly
Student Gustavo Gatica became a martyr to the cause after losing both eyes on 8 November. His image is everywhere, as the face of the human rights abuses and a lightening rod for the nation’s fury.
This reaction by Chileans marks the greatest weakness of the police and army. They have failed to cower the population.
Visibly shaken by the reaction, President Pinera has been forced to do an about face, from always defending the police and army, to admitting there have been some abuses.
The Gustavo Gatica has managed to force through an official investigation into this an some other cases. But there is little faith that this will amount to much.
Gustavo Gatica’s case has caused an uproar against the deliberate shooting of rubber coated bullets into the eyes of victims.
Video from Nicolas Balanda
The unrest is having a serious economic impact on Chile. the paralysis of the political crisis is pulling down economic activity, the currency’s exchange rate is declining and the environment is scaring investment away.
Expatriate Chileans have also been out in the streets in many countries, and this includes Australia, where they have been taking part in a series of ongoing actions. Songs of the new movement are being played and sung. Marches and vigils are being held. The latest news is being shared.
People from other South American countries also in turmoil, especially Colombia, are giving their support.
Speakers talk about the rise of dictatorship in Chile and draw the link between this and the rise of authoritarianism around the world, including Australia, where rights are also been systematically cut back, even if it is not being done as brutally as in Chile.
They say that the world must support Chile. Building this in Australia is important.