There is a State of emergency currently in Chile, decreed by the right-wing government of Sebastián Piñera as a result of the outbreak of a revolt that exploded on Friday October 18 2019.
This text is born from the need to communicate the situation that currently exists in this territory with comrades in various latitudes of the world.
We are sharing what we consider to be some of the main points to be made known to contribute to understanding the present moment from an anarchist viewpoint.
PRELUDE: THE YOUTH IN STRUGGLE AND THE SPARK THAT LIT THE FIRE
After a week of mass fare evasions of the underground train service, mainly by high school students during the month of October before the price increase in the transport services, multiple episodes of individual and collective disobedience spread through various parts of the city of Santiago that resulted in destruction of infrastructure and clashes with police forces inside and outside underground train stations. On Friday, October 18, the spread of these massive evasions and the level of radicality they reached was a surprise for many and unforeseen by the government which, along with its loyal journalists and social researchers, still can’t explain why these events led to a situation of widespread chaos that is still going on to this day.
ACT ONE: OUTBREAK OF A REVOLT WITHOUT PRECEDENT IN POST-DICTORSHIP CHILE
On Friday, October 18, the revolt radicalized at the moment when clashes with the police and the destruction of capitalist infrastructure took the streets of Santiago city centre. Initiated outside the government palace, actions of street violence quickly spread well into the night in various parts of the city. Faced with a situation of widespread rebellion and diffuse chaos in multiple urban sectors, the police forces were unable to contain the explosion of rage. Since that day this has infected broad sectors of a society that had seemed to be sleeping, tired by various forms of oppression and precariousness of life that originated in the continuity of the neoliberal economic system and from the police State installed in Chile during the recent civil and military dictatorship (1973-1990). These conditions of existence and domination were then strengthened by the centre left and right governments that have alternated in power since the return to democracy.
To the disturbances that exploded in the city centre were soon added thousands of people demonstrating in the neighbourhoods, banging on empty pots as a form of protest. Outbreaks of rebellion, arson and destruction materialized concerning dozens of buses; public and commercial buildings were attacked, looted and burned, and, crucially, dozens of underground train stations were vandalized and set fire to by hordes of enraged individuals until late into the night.
Clearly surpassed, the government did not lose much time before decreeing a State of emergency in the city of Santiago, a state of exception that includes the military in the streets and the armed forces in charge of order. However, a wild, inorganic, massive and unprecedented revolt in the post-dictatorship scenario was already underway, destroying in practice the obedience submission and fear imposed by decades of capitalist dominance in Chile.
ACT TWO: EXTENSION OF DESTRUCTIVE INSUBMISSION AND BEGINNING OF THE CURFEW
On Saturday, September 19, in the face of the persistence and heightening of the unrest the armed forces deploy in various points of the city. Soldiers guard the streets, commercial facilities and underground train stations in the centre of Santiago and suburbs. However, the protesters of every kind do not retreat and all repudiate the military presence with the vivid memory of the repression experienced a few decades ago during the years of the dictatorship. That same day the number of buses, cars and underground train stations burned by protesters increases. In parallel, the looting of supermarkets and huge shopping centres becomes uncontrollable and the image of hundreds of people taking back their lives by snatching goods in the centres of consumerism has been one of the most transcendent images of the days of revolt and were an important factor for the government, overwhelmed by the looting violence, imposing the curfew in the city of Santiago that same night.
Quite unashamedly the President and the military chief in charge of the city communicate to the media that the restriction of “civil liberties” would take effect that day from 7 pm until 6 the next morning. That night, the demonstrations, riots, looting, fires and clashes with the repressive forces continued again into the small hours of the morning all over the city.
Between Saturday and Sunday the spark of rage spread even more, igniting mass demonstrations and scenarios of wild violence in other parts of the country. This gave way to an ensuing moment of generalised chaos with multiple acts of rebellion and riots in various cities within a couple of days, leaving a good part of the urban infrastructure under siege, in ruins and ashes with barricades, vandalism and incendiary attacks on municipal dependencies, government buildings, shopping centres and official media premises.
By that time the revolt had gone beyond any specific demands, meaning that people from diverse origins and places find themselves and others amid protests and riots opening up a huge critical fracture in the Chilean neoliberal system and its model of capitalist / extractivist exploitation that affects the whole territory.
From Sunday October 20, the State of Emergency and a curfew were decreed by the government against the cities in revolt, but nevertheless the riots continued to extend until late into the night, ignoring the impositions and demonstrating that the rage and violence unleashed by people against the established order had broken the fear and passivity that had reigned for decades in broad sectors of the Chilean population.
ACT THREE: DIGNITY AND STRUGGLE AGAINST THE STATE’S STRATEGY OF REPRESSION
Since the beginning of the state of emergency, State repression has heightened and has also spread openly to the various territories in revolt.
As anarchists, we are clear that we do not hold a victimistic position, however, it is always good to share information about the tactics that dominion puts into practice as part of the confrontation with the insurgents, the rebels and the population in revolt generally.
In the current context, the repressive arsenal of the Chilean State has materialised as:
– More than two thousand people arrested and more than 15 people killed in addition to an unknown number of people reported missing.
– Shooting with various types of projectiles, including tear gas bombs, rubber pellets and weapons of war against protesters leaving an increasing and not known number of people injured and killed in public roads in addition to animals and people living in the street also wounded and killed as shooting targets.
– Beatings and physical, psychological and sexual torture in the road and inside police vehicles and police stations against people who were detained.
– People kidnapped inside police and civilian vehicles. Images have been seen of persons being locked inside the trunks of police vehicles.
– Shooting from behind of people in the street who are given a false chance to escape arrest.
– False police and military authorizations to loot supermarkets that end with arrests and murders later reported as deaths from the riots.
– Fires in large commercial premises caused by repressive forces so that companies can claim insurance. Burned corpses have appeared in some of these fires.
– Throwing people out of moving police cars then shooting them.
– Hanging of bodies of people killed in abandoned sites and of people alive in police barracks.
The widespread use of social networks on the internet such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook has allowed immediate circulation of massive audiovisual evidence of the situations described above, which is being disseminated by “alternative” groups and linked to struggles, succeeding in breaking through the communication strategy deployed by the government and historically supported by the official media in the service of power.
The government’s communication offensive represents another part of the repressive action that is attempting to colonize people’s minds through the following methods:
– Censorship and control of information to hide, justify and / or hypocritically question the records associated with the repression.
– Televised speeches of government authorities that have included the recognition of a social crisis that must be resolved through a “new social pact”.
– Explicit signalling of a state of war against an internal enemy allegedly organized with a plan to sow chaos and attack small shops, schools and hospitals. Special emphasis has been placed on the criminalization of the figure of the looter and vandal. Also, in a report on the State television channel, it was mentioned that the riots were organized by nihilistic anarchist nuclei.
– Joint news coverage throughout the day installing the fear of shortages and looting, spreading the idea that robberies would be spreading to people’s homes.
– Discursive division of protesters between the good, legitimate, peaceful and festive as opposed to the violent, against whom all kinds of repression would be justified.
– Presentation of a plan of social and economic measures trying show interest in solving the existing crisis.
– Presentation of the military as forces of peace and protection.
Fortunately, the repressive and communication strategy of the discredited government has not had the expected effect and disobedience has continued despite some eternally submissive citizens collaborating with power, voluntarily participating in street cleaning and surveillance of neighbourhoods using yellow vests, giving this garment a sense completely different from the meaning of revolt for which it became known after the recent wild protests in France.
OUR ANARCHIST POSITION: NOTES ON AN EPILOGUE THAT DOESN’T EXIST YET
Between Wednesday 23 and Thursday, October 24 the government and the repression tried to show a softer face given the persistence of demonstrations and a vast number of outbreaks of revolt, to which is added the permanent disclosure of recorded repressive facts and public recognition by a judicial investigation of the use of an underground station as a clandestine detention centre with witness accounts of torture.
These past days, signs seem to indicate that the general revolt has lowered a little in intensity as a result of a situation of permanent protest with the constant presence of riots and clashes. More than a few of us think that this could give way to a context of progressive pacification with the persistence of flashes of revolts, and a harshening of repression of a selective nature against people already known for their political participation in social movements, collectives and radical struggle environments. In fact, some people linked to student and environmental movements have already been arrested.
Despite what may come, we have confronted power and authority long before the current social outbreak and know that all repressive and communicational practices previously listed are part of the repressive arsenal which we and other groups and individuals have faced during the existence of the State and authority throughout history. Therefore, what we are assisting in today is a postmodern update of methods and strategies already deployed in previous dictatorial and democratic regimes in Chile, Latin America and the rest of the world where dominion has seen its interests affected and has not hesitated to show its true face of planned and systematic oppression.
We know that the opposition and confrontation against dominion has been carried out over the centuries by countless generations of rebels, disobedient, revolutionaries and subversives of every kind. In the same way we are certain that it has been us, the anarchists with the Mapuche communities in resistance and hooded youth, to have been those who, over the past two decades, have known torture, prison and death as part of the repressive State policy in the face of the resistance and the continuous attack that we have developed against the capitalist and authoritarian social order.
Today many more people are witnessing what we have been propagating for years: that the powerful do not mind cheating, torturing and murdering in order to protect the world they have built for their own benefit and that the only possible way out of domination over our lives begins with destructive rebellion against everything imposed by those who try to make our existence a permanent regime of slavery and theft of our freedom.
We are fully aware that all the nuances of State repression, including those who pretend to show a “friendly” face, form part of the counterinsurgent manual inaugurated in Algeria, strengthened in the Latin American dictatorships and continued by the occupying troops in Iraq, Haiti and other parts of the world. We know very well that massive and selective repression, torture, extermination, frameups and communication tactics of psychological warfare are nothing new and today we are living and facing them in a scenario that was never conceived as impossible: to go about our daily lives and our struggle in a state of emergency with soldiers in the street. We also know that the existence, proliferation and persistence of anarchist ideas and practices of confrontation over the last decades in the Chilean territory constitutes a real, vital and dynamic element that has in some way led to the identification and attack of symbols and objectives linked to power in the middle of the current riots, as well as contributed to the spreading of a subjectivity of radical combat against the world of capital and authority.
However, we are honest in making it clear that the discontent that has broken out with unprecedented violence in democratic Chile corresponds to a generalised revolt without leaders or organizers, where anarchist indvidualities are just one more actor present in the streets.
We have never believed in the good intentions of democratic deception, that is why we are not surprised that the repressive forces are pointing their bullets against kids, elderly people and animals. Today we are also learning to live with the curfew that restricts mobility, displacement and the possibility to embrace and relate to friends, comrades and dear ones. Many feelings and sensations interweave every day from minute to minute: rage, helplessness, nervousness and a share of anxiety is invading the minds and hearts of many people right now, mixing with the mood and heat of the struggle and the undeniable fact of really breaking subjective and material chains along with others who were never with us on the same side of the barricade before.
However, we don’t delude ourselves, because we know that this could just be a massive outpouring of contained rage and then return to a new normal captured by opportunists of every political shade as some have tried to do in these days of chaos. In this moment, and in any other, we will continue activity as anarchist individualities against all forms of authority.
They want us paranoid, distressed and isolated, but we are still active in the combat, also putting tools of self-management and psychological and emotional restraint personally and collectively into practice to keep going, alive and on a struggle footing. As we finish writing this text, military helicopters are flying over our heads, barricades are burning in the neighbourhoods and the sound of protests and clashes remains alive and fills us with strength to continue making history in the long experience of confrontation for total liberation.
We appreciate all the gestures of internationalist solidarity expressed by comrades around the world and we ask that these words be spread and translated into the most diverse languages and dialects.
NOTHING IS FINISHED, EVERYTHING CONTINUES
TODAY, MORE THAN EVER WE CONTINUE TO FIGHT AGAINST THE STATE, CAPITAL AND ALL AUTHORITY.
Translated from Spanish by Act for freedom now!