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The truth from the Chilean streets

“El violador eres tú” [You are the rapist], the women say pointing their fingers and bothering almost all the men who attend the presentation. A television commentator declares the intervention “unnecessary” while reaffirming his support for the “women’s struggle”. And, without giving a damn about these annoyances, female companions of all ages gather in every corner of Chile to reproduce the performance that has spread throughout the world, Un violador en tu camino, by the feminist group Lastesis.

High school students, university employees, neighbors of the peripheral neighborhoods, everywhere heard, trained or watched the performance. As soon as a performance begins, a reaction of happiness takes over most of the women around, who smile, applaud and even join the artistic manifesto. The song became a Chilean summer hit, with groups of friends singing the intervention on buses, in the subway, at party doors and in so many other places, proudly representing the same positions as the thousands of green scarves tied in backpacks and necks around the city.

This frontal denunciation of the patriarchy spread everywhere is an example of the incredible process that takes over the Chilean streets, taken by slogans that express truths long stuck in the throat. “The rapist is you” is one of those shouts of revolt, a denunciation of the hundreds of cases of harassment and abuses committed by the carabineros against the demonstrators, but also going to the roots of the issue and denouncing the culture of rape present in the formation of masculinities and spread throughout society.

And when they say “the oppressive state is a rapist policeman” their companions are far from being reductionist. On the contrary, they are synthesizing a formula that expresses the true nature of an extremely unfair, misogynistic and violent mode of social organization. They are speaking an uncomfortable but very profound truth.

Truths of the same tone are repeated by high school students on several occasions. “Evade like Piñera” is a phrase written on practically every bus stop and every subway station, recalling that fare evasion is not an exclusive action of poor youth since President Sebastián Piñera himself evaded territorial taxes for years and today makes this payment due to a judicial agreement. If the system is not fair, if the rich carry out legislative and accounting maneuvers to pay less taxes, if the profits of big companies are not taxed, then the evasion of transport tariffs becomes an action of fair disobedience.

The various scenes of protest that took place at school graduations in December also portray the same thing. The “penguins,” as they are called because of their uniforms, broke away from academic formalities without concern for retaliation, and in schools throughout Chile the graduation ceremonies turned into stages of revolt against the political system and of homage to the dead and wounded during the crash.

This is also the case in the neighbourhoods where residents who were not so much talking now get together and begin to prove forms of local organisation, seeking both to solve their immediate problems and to focus on profound national issues. For a decent and happy people, Asamblea San Luis!” is what the band of neighbors of the San Luis people, one of the poorest regions of the insurgent Maipú municipality, says, expressing in a few words the objectives of the residents of the pobla and an organizational tool to win them over.

With a great design of pairs of sneakers hanging from the electricity wires, perhaps a custom in the outskirts of the world, the strip is proudly carried by that neighborhood if it increasingly creates ties and certainties about what it wants.

By opening up reality, as women, young people and Chilean neighbors do, an unprecedented feeling of freedom takes over those who struggle, reinforcing solidarity among peers and trust in the motives of these struggles. At the same time, malaise takes care of the oppressors and cynics, who can only respond with more violence and more cynicism.
This raises a key question for the social struggle. The struggle of the working people is first and foremost a struggle for truth and justice. Although this simple conclusion is often submerged between academicism and other attempts at distraction, it is an objective fact that the people fight for truth when they take history into their hands, fighting for dignity and happiness. And this struggle, in which theory and political formation are essential, has a sense of justice that is very understandable to those who suffer exploitation and prejudice in their own lives.

And that is exactly why violence is seen so differently depending on the address of those who reflect on it. The stone that flies against the armored police is both a terrorist act for the Chilean bourgeoisie and an act of courage for the neighbors of the poblas. And the dangerous “peace marks” so repeated by the government and the right wing of the country are a trap that carries an enormous cynicism as they are proclaimed by the same people who repress the mobilized population with tear gas and rubber bullets.

At this moment, the Chilean struggle process is going through a critical moment in which the Piñera government is seeking the normalization of the country while intensifying repression. Last October’s uprising failed to conquer any of the profound economic changes for which the population took to the streets, just as it has not yet won guarantees of a sovereign constituent process, but a series of repressive laws against demonstrations and freedom of organization have already been passed.

The parliamentary left has unfortunately danced to institutional music and has also moved away from the general sentiment of the population, calling for gradual changes in the medium and long term that end up going against the central tasks of daily and permanent mobilization posed by the Chilean situation. Despite this, several local and general initiatives have also been developed by the country, whether in the organization of sectors such as women in struggle, neighborhood assemblies or the organization of new political tools itself.

The reasons that led to the Chilean social explosion are far from being resolved, and the tectonic plates of the population are still moving, although more slowly at the present time. The uprising against neoliberalism, which has taken the Mapuche people’s flag as its main symbol, is leading to a radical change in mentality that will have very profound effects on the fractured society of this country, and the only really popular way out of the uprising is necessarily by building a program that speaks the truth and defends the principles of a profound improvement in the life of the people in general, expressed in the yearnings of the workers, youth and other sectors mobilized.

“The truth is always revolutionary. This phrase, painted in large letters on the walls of the now closed Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center, seems to synthesize this spirit that prevails in the mobilizations and neighborhood assemblies throughout the country. The streets were not taken in search of palliative solutions, countless young people did not lose their eyes for small institutional changes. The sense of urgency of the Chilean streets is charged with truths that have been clouded decades by the dominant ideology and are now evident with all their strength. The Chilean people are still on the march.

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Writing office

  • Pedro Fuentes
  • Bernardo Corrêa
  • Charles Rosa
  • Clara Baeder