Contributed by Joe Montero
The political turmoil in Chile is now entering its third week and there is no sign that the daily street protests are coming to an end.
The strife which begun after the government sent troops in to disperse high school students protesting the rail fare hike, unleashed pent up anger that had been simmering for years, over government austerity, privatisation on steroids, rising inequality and abuse of democratic rights.
A strong-arm response, including a curfew, substantial police and military firepower, torturing of those arrested, raping, disappearances, killings and maiming, failed to frighten people off the streets. It made them angrier, to the point where they lost their fear and went out and confronted the soldiers and paramilitaries with their bodies.
They are shouting and singing “Chile Desperto” (Chile has awoken).
Facing water cannon and tear gas
Video from RT/Ruptly
Many words have been written and crocodile tears shed by much of the mega media, which failed or chose to not comprehend that there is a great deal of hypocrisy when ordinary people throw stones and erect barricades to protect themselves against a state using lethal force.
According to local sources, 24 are known to have died and the toll expected to rise, At least 156 have disappeared. Thousands wounded. More than 130 have lost an eye, because of shooting deliberately aimed to cause such an injury. All this has been swept under the carpet. The media outlets that contribute to this have blood on their own hands.
Women silently march in Chile for dozens killed in recent protests on 2 November
Video from DW News
The effect on the billionaire tycoon president Sebastian Pinera has been huge. Within days he shifted from promising to beat down enemies, to an apology and a reversal of policies. The fare hike was cancelled.
Live ammunition has been used
Video from VICE en Español
More spending on a range of social services, increased wages and a guaranteed minimum income for all were among the promises made. He even promised an investigation into police and military violence.
Too little too late. The rebellion demands nothing short of Pinera’s resignation, a new constitution and the establishment of a constitutional convention.
Last week saw, up to 2 million people by some estimates, take to the streets of Santiago. Huge crowds did the same in other population centres across the country. Tens of thousands have been out in the streets every day and evening. This last Monday, there was another huge turnout in Santiago.
The word in the streets is that “this is not over.”
A huge crowd took to the streets again on 4 November
Video from TIME
The crisis has now dealt a further blow to an economy that is virtually at a standstill. More voices are calling for Pinera to resign. The United Nations has sent in a tram to investigate human rights abuses.
Pinera is still refusing to resign and meet the core demands. The standoff continues. Part of the reason is that for all the words about concessions, the brutal crackdown is continuing.
Paramilitary police decide not to attack. This happened on 24 October. There have been some other cases
Video from IXC
No one trusts him, and they have come to the point where they want the end to power among a handful of the families that has dogged Chile for so long. They want an end to a constitution still carrying the legacy of the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.