Major unrest has kept Chile in a state of turmoil since October 2019. The protests are directed against the neoliberal system introduced under the Pinochet regime more than 30 years ago. Black Pond Antifa had the opportunity to talk to Paulo from Santiago de Chile, who sees himself as part of the movement, and learn more about the protests. The views in the interview are the personal views of Paulo.
Originally published by Black Pond Antifa. Introduction translated by Enough 14.
Interview with Paulo
Black Pond Antifa (BPA): The protests started originally with a price increase of public transport, right?
Paulo: Yeah, when that happened it was like “Hey, we don’t have too much money and you want us to spend even more”. We said “Stop!, we don’t want to accept that anymore! It’s too much.” Because when you compare the living standard in Chile to that of Germany or with other countries in Europe, it’s the same money for food and the cost of transportation is similiar to that of Berlin. But the median household income is only around 500â‚¬. Education and health insurance is also really expensive. So you have no money but need to spend a lot everywhere, you live like slaves. That’s the reason. All our lives we lived in this fucking system and we don’t want to accept that anymore.
BPA: You mean Neoliberalism?
Paulo: Yes. It started under the fascist regime of Pinochet with some economists, called the Chicago Boys. They and other fascists started this system in Chile, like an experiment. The dictatorship ended, but the system didn’t. And if you want to fight that system, they put the police in the streets and start to kill you for protesting. You can find videos of the police, where they take cocaine to destroy the riots . They also started to use guns, several hundred people lost an eye to them, two are completely blind. Some people have disappeared, some were robbed, a lot of women were sexually assaulted. The police is fucking crazy and the state doesn’t do anything.
BPA: How does the movement position themselves to the state, and political parties in general?
Paulo: They don’t want anything to do with them. The people started to stand together, paint murals in the street, make concerts with Antifa groups and collect money for Non-governmental Organizations, for example Cruz Roja . It started to create solidarity within the people, to take care of each other. In the past, we knew nothing about self organization, or about protesting. But with time, you see the only way is to burn everything. You don’t have another choice. If you go for a pacifist way, some cop comes and shoots you. So you need to defend your integrity and your right, and the only way to do that is with direct action. nd it’s really nice to see the power of the people, because they really believe in themselves and know the only way to change things is fight. You don’t have another choice, they don’t feel fear anymore.
BPA: Is the movement working with socialists, anarchists or communists? How does the radical left fit into the movement?
Paulo: I’d say the movement is anarchist. Not like a left side in the state, but normal people without money, self organizing. When the movement started, we didn’t want anything political, not left side, not right side. In the beginning, it was only the movement of the people. But the people started to sway more to the left and when some of the political right turned up, the people pushed them out of the movement. The same happened with the communists, the people start to say “Hey I don’t want to see you with your flag”.
BPA: You mentioned the political right, were there any groups that tried to influence the movement?
Paulo: Yeah, sometimes. They started to form fascist brigades to beat the protesters, mostly comprised of rich people. But the people say “I don’t want anymore of your fascist shit”, they are completely against fascism.
BPA: If the fascists are mostly rich people, who are the protesters?
Paulo: The movement consists of a lot of people. Normal people, women, hooligans from the big football clubs, also the delinquents and poor, we call them “Flaite” . The poor are always in the protests. It’s mostly those, not rich people. We also don’t have any leaders, only self organization. No unions either. For that organization, people use mostly social media like Instagram and Facebook. It’s really easy on there to share knowledge. For example, we copied some techniques from Hong Kong. Like, when the police shoots you with tear gas, you put some water on the grenade and then a container over it to extinguish it. And in the past we didn’t know that, but now there’s images, discussion and videos on social media and the people start to copy that. Also, the antifascists are a really important movement in Chile now. In the past most people didn’t know much about anarchists and resistance. But the people start to know, anarchist solidarity means staying together. Fight against the state, support feminists, support gays, support a different way to live.
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