By Javier Gárate in Waging Nonviolence – The next few months are of critical importance to Chile’s long-running education movement. President Michelle Bachelet has said she plans to implement comprehensive education reform this year, which will guarantee quality education for everyone. To ensure this happens, the movement has increased pressure on the government with huge protests by teachers and students last month, including an indefinite strike by the National Teachers Union that began June 1. Over the years, the movement has learned to temper its expectations. In 2011 — when protests were last at a peak — many thought change was imminent, only to suffer frustration and loss of momentum in the years that followed.
By Jennifer Baker in Revolution News – About 350 thousand people marched throughout the cities of Chile on Wednesday against proposed changes to the education system. Some 200 thousand people marched in the capital of Santiago. Wednesday’s march and Thursday’s events (below) were planned to coincide with Chile’s national men’s soccer(football) team participates in the opening game of the Copa Americas. High School students joined teachers and professors who are now on their second week of an indefinite strike. Wednesday’s events were organized by the Confederation of Chilean students (CONFECH), The college of teachers, the National Coordinator of Secondary Students (Cones) And The House Coordinator of Secondary Students (ACES). CONFECH estimated their group alone at 200 Thousand participants.
The first of these cases is probably the most unsavoury, and we have more than enough examples worldwide, especially in Latin America (Chile, Argentina, Perú, El Salvador, etc.). Here, the perpetrators employ relevant institutional powers to forge a renewed ‘democratic’ structure, in which they receive a guarantee of legal impunity for previous criminal activities justified by a misguided concept of national security and stability. Such is the case of the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Despite the gradual democratisation signalled by the 1988 national referendum to remove him from power, he clung to his position as head of state for a further two years, and his subsequent appointment as a senator for life took place and was previously sanctioned under the terms of decree no. 2191 in 1978.
More than 100 women small farmers from Chile’s southern Patagonia region have joined together in a new association aimed at achieving economic autonomy and empowerment, in an area where machismo and gender inequality are the norm. Patricia Mancilla, Nancy Millar and Blanca Molina spoke with IPS about the group’s history, and how the land, craft making and working together with other women helped them to overcome depression and situations of abuse, and to learn to trust again. “We have at last obtained recognition of rural women,” said Mancilla, president of the Association of Peasant Women of Patagonia. “Peasant women have learned to appreciate themselves. Each one of our members has a history of pain that she has managed to ease through working and talking together.”
Washington, DC –– On Thursday, January 29, CODEPINK protesters spoke out during Senate Armed Services Committee hearing attempting to perform a citizens’ arrest on Henry Kissinger. Holding handcuffs and large signs that read: KISSINGER: WAR CRIMINAL and ARREST KISSINGER FOR WAR CRIMES, activists read aloud a citizens’ arrest [pasted below]. In response, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Committee, called the human rights activists “lowlife scum” and said it was “the most disgraceful and despicable demonstration he had ever seen.” “CODEPINK is really proud of our action in the Senate today, speaking out on behalf of the people of Indochina, China, East Timor and peace-loving people everywhere,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, “Henry Kissinger is responsible for the deaths of millions. He’s a murderer, a liar, a crook, and a thug, and should be tried at the Hague.”
Yesterday, Chile celebrated a historical moment: for the first time, the LGBT movement marched united to demand equal rights. Historically, there has been much reluctance to work together, but in 2013 seven organizations within the movement came together and yesterday’s march was a result of their collaboration. This signals a shift in the movement in Chile as it strives for ever greater steps toward equality. The LGBT movement in Chile has often been criticized for being so divided. In response to this critique, seven organizations — Acciongay, Daniel Zamudio Foundation, Equals Foundation, Mums, Transexual Organization for the Dignity of Diversity, Breaking the Silence, and It Gets Better Chile — came together on May 17, 2013, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, to form the Front for Sexual Diversity.
SANTIAGO, Oct 13 — Chilean police fired tear gas and water cannon yesterday to break up thousands of indigenous protesters demanding land rights and condemning Columbus Day, after masked demonstrators began throwing stones. The march in Santiago began festively, with demonstrators decked out in colorful clothing and playing traditional indigenous music from around the country. But some protesters turned violent, throwing stones at police, who responded by firing water cannon and tear gas. That broke up the demonstrators, who police said numbered about 6,000.
The former national security adviser seems to be everywhere lately. He made an appearance at an event with other former secretaries of state, leading Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank (9/3/14) to call him “the most celebrated foreign-policy strategist of our time,” and to note that of those gathered, “the wisest, as usual, was Kissinger.” Of course, a clear vision of Kissinger would help too. The record is well-documented, from backing a coup in Chile (“We will not let Chile go down the drain”) to supporting the dirty war in Argentina to Indonesia’s bloody campaign in East Timor. Kissinger is most closely associated with the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. Of the latter, he famously delivered this order: “A massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves.” Credible estimates of the number of people killed as a result of this order range as high as 800,000.
President Michelle Bachelet’s government has rejected a huge $8bn hydroelectric project in Chile’s Patagonia region, citing its adverse impact on the environment. The decision by the Chilean cabinet to shelve the controversial seven-year-old scheme was a victory for environmentalist groups which fought the proposal to build five dams in a pristine river basin. “The Hidroaysen hydroelectric project is hereby rejected,” said Pablo Badenier, the environment minister. Hundreds of people on Tuesday cheered the decision in the streets of Santiago and in the region of Aysen, about 1,300km south of the Chilean capital. Patricio Rodrigo, executive secretary of the Patagonia Defence Council, called the decision “the greatest triumph of the environmental movement in Chile”. It “marks a turning point, where an empowered public demands to be heard and to participate in the decisions that affect their environment and their lives,” Rodrigo said. The joint Spanish-Chilean venture formed for the project now has 30 days to challenge the decision in the Environmental Court of Valdivia in southern Chile.
Covert U.S. planning to block the democratic election of Salvador Allende in Chile began weeks before his September 4, 1970, victory, according to just declassified minutes of an August 19, 1970, meeting of the high-level interagency committee known as the Special Review Group, chaired by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. “Kissinger asked that the plan be as precise as possible and include what orders would be given September 5, to whom, and in what way,” as the summary recorded Kissinger’s instructions to CIA Director Richard Helms. “Kissinger said we should present to the President an action plan to prevent [the Chilean Congress from ratifying] an Allende victoryâ€¦and noted that the President may decide to move even if we do not recommend it.” The document is one of a compendium of some 366 records released by the State Department as part of its Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series. The much-delayed collection, titled “Chile: 1969-1973,” addresses Richard Nixon’s and Kissinger’s efforts to destabilize the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende, and the U.S.-supported coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power in 1973. The controversial volume was edited by two former officials of the State Department’s Office of the Historian, James Siekmeier and James McElveen.
A heap of ashes is allegedly all that remains of $500 million in “pagarés” — or debt papers — stolen and burned by a Chilean activist. A video by Francisco Tapia, aka “Papas Fritas,” went viral this week in which he confessed to burning the legal papers certifying debt owed by Universidad del Mar students and had thus liberated the students from their debt obligations. “It’s over, it’s finished,” Tapia said in his impassioned five minute video, the Santiago Time reported. “You don’t have to pay another peso [of your student loan debt]. We have to lose our fear, our fear of being thought of as criminals because we’re poor. I am just like you, living a shitty life, and I live it day by day — this is my act of love for you.” The university is still collecting on its student loans, but not without great difficulty. The destruction of the documents occurred during a “toma” — student takeover — of the campus and means the embattled university owners must now individually sue each of its students to assure debt payment — a very costly, time-consuming process, the paper reported. Tens of thousands of students flooded the streets of Chile last year, demanding education reform. Now, it seems, tensions are escalating once again.
This month, rural women, indigenous communities, and farmers in Chile found themselves on the winning end of a long-fought battle against a bill that had come to be known by many in this country as simply, the “Monsanto Law.” The bill, which would have given multinational agribusiness corporations the right to patent seeds they discover, develop or modify, was withdrawn by the Chilean government now controlled by newly elected members of the center-left coalition known as the New Majority, amid concerns that the law would bring harm to the country’s small and mid-sized farmers. In making the announcement on March 17, new Secretary General Ximena Rincón pledged that the Chilean government will “analyze all that is known in our country and internationally about this issue in order to protect the rights of agricultural communities, small and medium-sized farmers, and the heritage of seeds in our country.”
There seems to be some confusion among Americans including some of those involved in people-powered movements in the United States. Some differentiate among street protests that challenge government and recognize some are consistent with our ideals of people-powered governments and see that other protests actually undermine democracy and are not social movements for economic, environmental and social justice. In the case of Ukraine, discussed in the article below, the situation is particularly complicated because the government of President Viktor Yanukovych was distasteful. Despite our dislike for Yanukovych and our admiration for the Ukrainian people we do not applaud this coup of a democratic government. Frankly, we did not find either side advocating for the economic, environmental and social justice that is needed. Even though these can be complicated situations we urge people to be cautious and not assume that just because there are people in the street that the US social movement should support those efforts.
Chilean Socialist senator, Isabel Allende, the daughter of toppled former president Salvador Allende, was appointed head of the Chilean senate on Thursday, making her the first woman to occupy the post. Almost half a century after her father was killed in a violent 1973 coup d’état, the daughter of Salvador Allende is set to become the leader of the Chilean senate following a decision on Thursday by the country’s new centre-left coalition government, which won power in November last year. “My father, as we know, served as senate leader for three years, and for me, it comes as an immense honour and with great pride to be the first woman [leader] in the history of the senate,” Allende told major Chilean radio station, Radio Cooperativa.