Chile: The oasis still smells of burning – October 29, 30 and 31, 2019

In the middle of this Latin America full of convulsions, our country Chile is a true oasis” ,
Sebastián Piñera, October 8, 2019
These past three days, from Tuesday, October 29 to Thursday, October 31, the revolt in Chile has continued in a context where many counter-fires have been lit to bring it back to more reasonable paths. As the frontal shock of brute force with a state of emergency and a week’s night curfew didn’t suffice, now a strategy of encirclement is unfolding: on the one hand by opening the door wider to those who want to negotiate and reform the country (start of a possible process of revision of the Constitution, launching of a forthcoming French-style Great Debate, acceptance of reception of the opposition parties at La Moneda); on the other hand, by separating the peaceful wheat from the riotous chaff in the street (from the organisation of concerts in the squares to citizen assemblies and the dramatisation of certain attacks, all passing by the official condemnation of the mayhem by leaders of the left).
Faced with this, to give an idea of ​​the diffuse attacks, just take Tuesday: Molotov attack on the town hall of Quilpué (an 18-year-old incarcerated and a minor on judicial control), new looting and clashes in Concepción, not to mention the broken windows of the Ministry of Fisheries; premises of the Automóvil Club (driving school) in La Serena burned, looting of a Unimarc supermarket in Antofagasta, burning of the El Salto church in the Púa locality (Victoria) with a banner “Resistencia Mapuche” left next to it; ousting of the statue of the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia in Temuco and failed attempt on the same in Plaza de la Independencia in Concepción, and hammer and chisel against that of the slaughterer general Cornelio Saavedra in Plaza de Armas at Collipulli; the burning of seven construction machines and a truck belonging to Forestal Mininco in Capitán Pastene (Lumaco) claimed by the “Natchez Pelantaru” group of Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM); temporary closure of the Bellavista metro station in La Florida following a massive new fraud of high school students; looting of the Líder hypermarket and the Mall in Coronel on Monday night; burning of a bank and shops in Quillota during a demonstration, as well as the burning of the municipal market (Feria Modelo del Parque Aconcagua) which destroyed 17 premises, but also the start of fire of the Easy company in the industrial zone; looting of the Open Plaza Mall in La Calera and the looting of the Scotiabank, in addition to blockades of Ruta 5 North and Ruta 60; numerous looting and ransackings of downtown Punta Arenas on Monday night; fire at Catillo toll at Parral ; blocking of Ruta 5 at Maullín in the Los Lagos area, preventing access to the island of Chiloe, and the burning of two toll booths; massive crowding at the police station in Calbuco and Puerto Montt, as well as at the prefecture of the latter; looting and partial burning of the residence of Senator Coloma (UDI, in power) in Talca; toll attack at Pelequen and San Fernando; sacking of the Post Office in Orsono during the demo; gatherings of 10,000 people in Santiago from Plaza Italia to the presidential palace of La Moneda, punctuated by clashes and looting (a Tricot store, an Ahumada pharmacy, a Unimarc supermarket and a Claro in the night, also burned), not to mention systematic fires at the entrance to the Baquedano Subway Station (which served as an unofficial torture centre during the state of emergency); plunder of two agencies of the AFPs (pension fund), annexes of the town hall in Valvidia, not to mention the hotel and casino Dreams which lost their windows during a riot of six hours …

If we look at the attacks of the past two days, they have (temporarily?) decreased in number – which is not the case of road blocks – but are also increasingly relegated to the “news” columns or overlooked, which makes opportunities to give a picture very limited. In this sense, it is a kind of return to normal common to other parts of the world: when power cannot silence what is happening it speaks about it by twisting the meaning before returning to a more traditional information management, namely only divulging disorder when the repression makes arrests, or in the form of isolated facts (the category “asocial” is now in the process of dethroning that of “delinquents“) in the press). Since the beginning of the week, and this is increasing, prey arrested by the PDI (Chilean Muscular PJ) after searches are exhibited, with images of people handcuffed following looting or destruction that occurred over these last twelve days. For example, the parquet floor of the region of Biobío exhibited 15 cars seized, thousands of products stolen from supermarkets and 27 arrested. The PDI is also saying that it is following the hundred videos received anonymously following the call for witnesses. The champion is the unfortunate 35-year-old maths teacher who has been shown all over the screens since the evening of October 29, being the first arrested (on CCTV) for the initial metro attacks: He has been detained in custody for 90 days in the High Security prison, accused of destroying turnstiles and Bip! card machines on October 17 at the San Joaquin metro station (Santiago). As for the other spectacular stagings to isolate the rebels by presenting them as monsters, there are also those few acts that have been blown up to provoke immediate rejection, which constitutes a classic counter-insurgency strategy: directed by the left, the fires of the theatre and conservatory of music in Concepcion or the damage against the Café Littéraire of the Bustamante Park in Santiago in the Providencia district (30/10, whose furniture and books fed the flaming  barricades) are exhibited and, to touch families, it is the looting (of medicines) in a pharmacy of the League against epilepsy that is exhibited in La Serena on October 30th.
Regarding the days of Wednesday and ThursdayOctober 31, we can note the fire of two toll cabins at Chuquicamata in Iquique on the A1 road that leads to the airport Diego Aracena (after chasing off the employees), and also in this city the salt haulers who had to unload their cargo under pressure on the road linking the ports of Patillos and Patache; the sacking of a notarial office in La Serena, as well as the offices of the Industrial Corporation for Regional Development (CIDRE) whose furniture and computers fed the barricades; a molotov attack on the headquarters of the Regional Prefecture of Punilla in San Carlos (too quickly extinguished); clashes with the carabineers at La Serena during a demonstration of 4000 people; the same in Chillán, Ancud, Viña del Mar (with the town hall), Antofagasta (2000 protesters), Santiago (on the side of the Pío Nono bridge and Parque Forestal), Talca, Concepción (with looting and big clashes); highway blockades in Aconcagua; a cunning plundering of a Mayorista supermarket 10 in Valparaíso through the roofs … In total, if we believe the record of the government released Thursday shortly before noon and about October 30, there have been fifteen major attacks, including the rampage of the Café Literario in Providencia (Santiago); the looting of an optical shop and a Unimarc supermarket in Santiago; the burning of a toll booth in San Bernardo; the attack and damage against a rifle barracks at Padre Hurtado; the looting of the La Polar shop, the ransacking of the electoral office (Servel, 14 arrested), damage to the Pôle Emploi (Sense) and the French consulate, all this in Concepción; the looting of a Homecenter (Copiapó) and a Unimarc supermarket  (Antofagasta). There were also 36 road blocks (including 7 on Ruta 5), ​​400 arrested and 17 police vehicles damaged.
On 30 October, the IDP also publicly disclosed the number of people detained in pre-trial detention during the state of emergency: 587 in pre-trial detention in 193 court cases involving property crimes and 45 ongoing investigations for crimes against property. The IDP also claims to have received more than 2,000 “high-quality videos” from collabos following his call “that those who witness people looting or committing a crime, film them and send us the video“. For its part, the Ministry of Justice had specified the day before yesterday that 9203 persons were arrested between 19 and 28 October and that the prosecutor launched 228 proceedings against 997 indicted (about half of which is therefore preventative, and the others under judicial control). To give an idea of ​​the damage that each municipality is beginning to evaluate little by little while nothing is finished, the Chamber of Commerce of Concepción (220 000 inhabitants) evaluated at the beginning of the week 180 premises looted and destroyed, of which 80 concerning “small businesses” (but is there a “small farm”?). Finally, the Asociación Chilena de Municipalidades estimated that 38 town halls from all sides had been attacked since the beginning of the revolt in 23 municipalities, 12 of which are totally unusable (and the others partially).
On the political side, the great announcement of Piñera on October 30 was, of course, Chile’s renunciation of organizing the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit scheduled for November, with the move to Malaysia, and that of COP25 which was planned for December. His official reason is that his “first concern is to restore public order, the security of our citizens and social peace.” And the reality is that it was the current revolt that cancelled them for the sake of security … foreign heads of state and their delegations (25,000 delegates for COP25, whose hotels and planes had been reserved for a long time). We suspect that this decision is part of a broader vision to crush and stifle the movement. Beyond what will follow, we must not forget that the repression continues, with the first trials that will begin for the facts related to the beginning of the revolt, and that daily new searches and arrests can occur in the context of open investigations and in incessant riots (Not to mention the wounded, more than 700 bullets on 31 October according to the NHRI). After playing the state terrorism card very quickly with the military before having to withdraw it if he did not want to commit a mass massacre, President Piñera is playing participatory democracy, aided by the left opposition. On October 29, the parties all made their official condemnation in a strange synchronized media ballet, as requested by the new Minister of the Interior to start negotiating : “With looting and fires we do not change Chile” (Beatriz Sánchez, former presidential candidate of 2017 for the Frente Amplio), “we who have publicly defended the mobilizations must not hesitate to condemn the fires” (Gabriel Boric, former leader of the student union FECH and deputy of Convergencia Social) “of course we condemn the destruction and the fires which are happening one another at this moment” (Giorgio Jackson, former leader of the CONFECH student confederation, MP for Revolución Democrática),”we categorically and unmeasurably condemn violence in the streets. Let’s not let the awakening of Chile be tarnished by actions that do not represent the vast majority” (Daniel Jadue, communist mayor of Recoleta and member of the central committee of PCCh), “the violence we have seen today in Santiago has nothing to do with the just claims that seek to move towards a more just Chile” (Marcelo Diaz, PS deputy of Valparaíso and former Minister of State of the Government of Bachelet).
This done, all were received on October 31 at La Moneda to discuss with the government (except the small communist party that refused, pretending to wait for the satisfaction of the demands of the CUT), and must send their proposals for Sunday. Piñera having announced that he was going to launch a Great Debate in the image of the Macronian manoeuvre vis-a-vis the movement of the yellow vests, and that no subject there would be taboo including a reform of the Constitution inherited from the dictatorship of Pinochet, the left associated with the unions (Mesa de Unidad Social ) has launched its own forums across the country. Besides peaceful demonstrations sometimes framed in cultural devices (concerts, etc.), there are up to several hundred people who sit in circles in the streets for several days to … write a new Supreme Law! This thing is called “cabildos, a word imported by the conquistadors in Chile: in the cities of the old Spanish colonial empire, the open cabildo was an extraordinary modality of citizens meeting, implemented in case of imperative reason – emergency, royal communication, or disaster, or more precisely a mechanism of representation of local elites vis-à-vis the royal bureaucracy. These forums or constituent  and claims workshops in the open (or sometimes in rooms on registration) have for example been held in recent days in Viña del Mar, La Serena or Colo Colo (1500 people gathered in the stadium).
In the end, despite all this brewing political wind, President Piñera has of course dropped no more crumbs (just those announced on electricity or pensions) for a week. So, since the time is not bla bla for many, other people are still taking to the street directly to advance their own interests, whatever they are: in Calbuco, fishermen block access to the port San José by preventing trucks supplying the region from getting fuel. They demand the increase of hake quotas, like their colleagues on strike in Chiloé, while hundreds of fishermen from Toltén have demonstrated in Temucoto asking for the repeal of the Fisheries Act of 2013. In Puerto Montt and Orsono, it is the collective taxis that joined the protests by blocking traffic to demand a reduction of the tax on fuel. In Quellón, on the other hand, it is the employees of the industrial salmon farms demonstrating against the road blocks at the two entrances to San Antonio, which prevent the trucks of their death farms from circulating, depriving them of work, … and so on, right now. Once the magic cauldron of claiming has opened up, these can be infinite and the dialogue with power can go on indefinitely, the Great debate imposed by the top in cabildo or area assembly launched from the bottom. What matters is to remain among civilized people who recognize each other, far from all those barbarians who ask nothing and take revenge for an existence of misery and humiliation by defrauding, plundering, pillaging and destroying. Today, it is certainly the latter that we can show solidarity to, and not a “Chilean people who has woken up” and other national-populist poppycock.
 On October 24, in Mexico City, near the university campus, enraged people unfurl a banner (“Solidarity with the prisoners of Chile and Ecuador“), cutting off the road with burning barricades, and smashing a coca cola truck as they passed. On October 30 in Athens, a demonstration of solidarity with the revolt in Chile near the university resulted in clashes with the cops, barricades and a little breakage. In France, on October 28, a tag ” (A) solidarity with Exarchia and with Chile no borders” appeared on the walls of the sub-prefecture of Cherbourg; On October 30, several solidarity tags appeared on the Croix-de-Chavaux metro station in Montreuil.(including Solidaridad con la revuelta en Chile! Abajo la karcel! and Rather fraudster than controller! ); in Marseilles it was the consulate of Chile that was trashed on October 30 (“Here as there, may the cops, the States and their armies be destroyed!” Abrazo desde Francia weones!“). And in Mexico City on October 31st, there was a small wild anarchist demonstration that came down to the Auditorio metro station leaving some tags on its walls (like Pinera asesino ).
In Chile, the revolt does not seem to be extinguishing, despite the current attempts by citizens’ counter-fire taking the place of the military curfew. The embers of these last twelve intense days are still smoking throughout the territory, and if how to revive and extend them is a question that the comrades on the spot are certainly asking themselves, how to send a wind of solidarity over there could well be ours. Are there not also here innumerable obstacles to freedom to ardently attack?
[Taken from indymedia nantes, 01.11.2019]

Translated by Act for freedom now!

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