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Chile Protests Result In a New Constitution!

Crowd of protestors, one holding chilean flag

In a victory for the people of Chile, the government will begin the process of rewriting the Constitution. This is a huge win for the people of Chile, who have been protesting for a month.

This is incredible news, and shows that speaking up and speaking loud and in great numbers can sway the direction of a country. But what are the protests all about? People will say “it was a subway fare hike!” But that was the tipping point. They are about the growing cost of living and inequality in the country. If you are in the US I’m sure you can sympathize with the protesters’ feelings. 

People are fed up with government and corporations having all the money and power. Chile has the highest GDP in Latin America, but out of 17 million people, 140 have almost 20% of the wealth.  As the economy ebbs and flows, the middle and lower classes feel the bad when it is bad, but don’t feel the good when it is good. Whereas the upper class seems to get the benefits of a good economy, but none of the problems of a bad one.

The subway fare hike was significant because for the region, the fares were already expensive. This prompted many students to coordinate a fare evasion campaign on October 7 in Santiago, Chile’s capital. The students filled the train stations and had clashes with police over the next week. This escalated  and people began damaging the statins, rendering many of them unusable. On October 18, the police brought out water cannons and tear gas. Protestors eventually burned down 17 of the stations, and the headquarters of the local electricity company.

President Sebastián Pinera, who seems to be out of touch with his people, called for a State of Emergency, dispatched the army, and created a curfew. The protests have since spread, as has the region of the State of Emergency. He proceeded to call the protestors an “enemy” (sound familiar?) and kept spreading the reach of the State of Emergency.

On October 25th, there was a protest of over 1 million people across the country, demanding the President’s resignation. That, of course, has not happened. However he has switched up his cabinet, likely installing people who are more in line with his wants.

Over 20 people have died at the hands of police and military.  Many are being severely injured and some have been blinded by rubber bullets. Human rights violations such as rape and torture by police and military are being reported. There is a UN human rights mission in the country now, documenting the violence.

With the announcement of a new Constitution being crafted, we hope that this signals a new era for the people of Chile. They all deserve to share in the success of the country. Ideally this will lead to the government being more about the people than it has been, and hopefully this is a true new beginning for Chile.

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