Chile: Spread the fire rather than cover it up

 2019/10/21 by Sans_Attendre
Translated by Act for freedom now!
After the declaration of the state of emergency, entrusting the management of the streets to the military to restore order (alongside the other armed arms of the State), the President of the Republic Sebastian Piñera announced Saturday, October 19 abandoning the increase of the metro prices in Santiago, while his military decreed the establishment of a curfew.
Indeed, after the huge day of Friday in the capital where many metro stations had been ransacked and burned (in addition to clashes during the day), the revolt spread throughout the country. And this time, the question is no longer this or that, but a critique in act of the conditions of the poor: mass looting of supermarkets and shopping malls, fires of institutions (banks, town halls, tolls, newspaper headquarters) … but also the two together, since many looted businesses are also destroyed by the flames at the same movement, which is very particular.
Faced with this, the State first established curfews on Saturday evening in the Greater Santiago region from 10pm to 7am, before extending it to the region of Valparaiso and Concepción. Openly violated by crowds of enraged rioters who have multiplied elsewhere, it has been extended from north to south in the cities of Valdivia, Antofagasta, Talca, Chillán, Chillán Viejo, Temuco, Padre Las Casas and Punta Arenas. Its hours have also been extended from 22h to 20h and even 19h in Santiago (until 7h or 6h), time from which only the rich (equipped with passes) can circulate and the military can shoot anyone and stop them. While this may certainly deter some of the more citizen protesters (“less abuse” is one of their demands), it does not prevent many from not returning home and the riots being prolonged for three days from the day to the night. There are now 10,500 soldiers (soldiers and carabiniers) patrolling the whole country trying to restore order.
On Sunday in the early afternoon a few figures of the arrests of the day before or the night came out: 614 protesters from the region of Santiago deputed in court and 848 in the rest of the country, officially 1462 detainees that will attend to 193 prosecutors appointed for this purpose. Regarding the destruction of the metro in the capital, the new balance sheet is 80 affected stations out of 136, of which 11 totally burned and 11 partially burned + 41 heavily damaged (ransacked). To this we must add the news of Saturday, since enraged entered into to burn 8 new stations, including metro trains at the dock in closed stations: 6 different trains were destroyed, plus 3 metros (several trains) fully burned, and many electrical safety systems are out of use. All this for at least 300 million dollars’ damage. Note that also in Valparaiso stations were attacked (including a fire). All this without counting the Transantiago buses gone up in smoke. As for the banks, President Asociación de Bancos said that in two days and nights, 130 branches had been damaged (30 of which were destroyed) and 250 ATMs were completely destroyed (10% of the total stock). In terms of looting, the American chain of Walmart hypermarkets (Líder and A Cuenta brands) counted at least125 of its hypermarkets looted all over the country and 9 burned on Sunday. Another example concerns the Santa Isabel supermarkets, which were also heavily attacked: around 4:30 pm Sunday in Santiago at the crossroads of Trinidad and Vicuña Mackenna streets, several hundred people organized themselves to loot it quickly by bringing dozens of cars to fill up before sharing out. The more these riots are prolonged, the more varied the objectives are, like this looting of the Coca Cola factory in Puento alto Sunday around 5 pm … And all in barely three days.

Sunday (and Monday in the European media), the axis of communication of power is of course the dead during these lootings and the army put in place to prevent this. “We are at war with a powerful, implacable enemy who respects nothing and no one and who is ready to use violence and delinquency without any limit,” said Piñera at a press conference on Sunday. It should be noted that the 7 deaths recorded are each due to accidents, since they died during fires following looting in huge structures, such as the Kayser clothing factory in the town of Renca (north of Santiago) and a Lider hypermarket in San Bernardo (south of Santiago). The State is of course careful not to put forward all those wounded by military bullets, many of whom (in Puente Alto, for example) are hospitalized with “life-threatening prognosis”, or their eyes punctured (already a dozen identified) following the firing of soldiers’ rubber bullets. Or the fresh report of the Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos (INDH) denouncing ill-treatment against minors, “sexual vexation” or torture of protesters arrested in the 1ª, 3ª, 21ª, 19, 25, 33 , 43 and 48ª police stations of Santiago. It’s “war”, according to the President, and on both sides: expropriations, sackings and fires targeted on one side, defence of domination regardless of the price by the mercenaries of the State, on the other.
In all these night riots, if the lootings followed by fire hypermarkets or large shopping centres remain the most numerous, we can only rejoice that some also seize the opportunity to attack each in their own way the targets that are important to them. In Valparaiso, the night from Saturday to Sunday, it is the cathedral which had its immense gate burnt for example, and the interior entirely trashed, but it is also the building of one of the two big newspapers of the country, El Mercurio, which suffered the same fate: ransacking and burning (the workers had to break). In Coquimbo, in the same genre, it is the feet of the huge Cruz del Tercer Milenio (a concrete cross 80m high and 40m wide dating from 2001) that were burned. Another example, in Concepción Sunday during the day, individuals raised the heavy iron shutter of an armoury then hastily seized the contents of its trade. In Iquique, protesters attacked the barracks of the Cavalry Regiment, and the spectacular image was then released of the old war cannon returned to modern riot military. Elsewhere, especially in the south, several road and highway tolls went up in smoke, including last Sunday around 20:30 in Peñaflor on the Sun Highway, while several are blocked by barricades.
The night from Sunday to Monday, October 21, once again the curfew was not respected in many places, but it should be noted that most of the looting took place during the day, when heterogeneous crowds gather from the streets. Everywhere else (one of the slogans: “Chile wake up”). A brief overview of these new attacks, without detailing the many clashes and barricades: in Catemu, California high school and the town hall went up in smoke, Olmué it is the town hall (see photo opposite) and the Bancoestado, in Temuco the Fashion Park store is looted and in Iquique a Ripley, in Rancagua all the shops in the centre lose their windows, Maipú a Lider hypermarket is on fire, in Chillán a Unimarc supermarket and a Ripley are looted, in Quillota a big DIY store, in Antofagasta a Unimarc supermarket, etc. Faced with this extension of the revolt, there is a classic tension that we would also like to stress: that between reclaiming the existent and its destruction. Present from the outset during the massive fraud of the metro in Santiago, this tension could mark the difference between making public transport free (by multiplying the fraud) and sending it up in the flames. On Friday night, a dozen metro stations were set on fire. Another example, if the looting of consumer goods multiplied, we also saw some rioters set fire to the temples of consumption, and others outright discarding flat screens and other appliances barely expropriated to fuel the fire barricades. A question that had already been asked at the best moments of the 2008 Greek revolt.
From consumption to the consummation of the existent, this is a step that some revolts have started to take in a minoritarian way in Santiago de Chile, a good example of all the possibilities offered when a movement of rupture is freed from the left, of its control, its ideology and its pacification, to gain an autonomous dimension where one can begin to destroy everything that destroys us. For us here, show solidarity at the level of what is happening there, where many comrades are also fighting. Let’s not remain peaceful like the ocean that separates us!
[Published in indymedia nantes, 21.10.2019]

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