Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

December 7, 2019

Chileans Take to the Streets on Day 50 of the Mobilizations

A jubilant crowd as red flares, fires and lasers light up Plaza Dignidad, formerly known as Plaza Italia. Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP

Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP

The climate block began at the metro stop La Moneda in front of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT). Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP
Mapuche flag. Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP

The climate block of the 6 December mobilization was led by participants of the Cumbre de los Pueblos.
 Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP

The march flowed on to the Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins popularly known as La Alameda. Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP

The afternoon started as a march. It progressed into what seemed like a street party with street fighting on the side…

Chileans Take to the Streets on Day 50 of the Mobilizations

by Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project
Censored News

Santiago de Chile—Yesterday, 6 December was the global climate march. People marched around the world demanding action on climate change to prevent the irreparable decline of the Earth's life support systems to the point where the Anthropocene-driven mass-extinction already taking place includes human beings as well.
The emergency street medics. The medics, who are attacked by the Carabineros (national police) frequently during marches due to their immediate assistance to protesters in need. Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP
And while many of those marches included the slogan "system change not climate change," in Santiago, Chile, the Climate March was part of the larger weeks-long mobilization that is taking the streets to create that systemic change.

The Santiago climate march block was led by the Cumbre de Los Pueblos or People's Summit, organized by the Observatorio Latin Americano de Conflictos Ambientales (OLCA) and other groups. The Cumbre brought together activists, Campesinos, Indigenous peoples, and others from across Chile and around the world to discuss the root issues of climate change and the destructive impacts of neoliberal market-driven false solutions being promoted by industry and the UN.

Women carry banner honoring Saint Negro Matapaco. Saint Negro Matapaco accompanied protesters in an earlier protest a few years back. Matapaco is slang for "Cop Killer." Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP

The Cumbre was originally organized in two parts to offer an alternative first to the APEC summit planned for mid-November in Santiago; then the COP25 Climate Summit planned for 2-14 December here. In mid-October, however, the ground shook here in Chile and the pent up rage and frustration of the people were unleashed.  The streets and plazas were taken over by Jovenes (youth) and others demanding an end to the repressive constitutionals laws and neoliberal policies created under the Pinochet Dictatorship; policies that gave away the ancestral land of Mapuches and Campesinos to timber companies for timber plantations, and privatized basic social services leading Chile to have the greatest income disparity in Latin America.
Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP
APEC was chased away first, and then Chile canceled the climate COP. Chile's former colonial ruler, Spain, stepped up and saved the day, offering to host the climate summit at the last minute, and allowing Chile to retain the COP Presidency. This allowed Chile to avoid having a global audience for the mass mobilizations as well as the rampant human rights abuses denounced by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Carabineros, the national police in Chile, have been accused of rape and torture and have caused nearly 300 eye injuries by firing shotgun shells filled with rubber-coated metal pellets directly at protesters' faces.

On La Alameda, the main avenue of Santiago. Photo Orin Langelle GJEP

So the #climatemarch in Santiago was about more than "climate action." It was about diving deep into the economic and political roots of the crisis, challenging and denouncing the false solutions, and joining with a burgeoning popular movement. This movement is creating a people's way forward that encompasses the rights of Indigenous Peoples, an end to the free-market ravaging of the environment and a just economic and political pathway forward that includes everyone.G

Protesters prepare to set up a blockade on La Alameda. Photo Orin Langelle/GJEP

While COP25 in Madrid ignores human rights and eviscerates climate science in debates over "natural climate solutions" designed to pave the way for business as usual by using the entirety of the natural world as one giant pool of carbon and biodiversity offsets, the protesters in Chile are showing a real way forward through the creation of a popular "constitutional assembly." 

Vendors line the streets. Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP
These are exciting times in Chile and revolutionary fervor here is infectious. Maybe this new Chilean model can be an inspiration and an example in the race to avert climate catastrophe.

People in the mobilizations express themselves in different ways. Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP

The Chilean protests have taken place over the space of 50 days. People have been inspired to openly express their feelings which the state does not approve of. Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP

Carabineros fire tear gas cannisters on to La Alameda. Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP
Man and woman (center) receive help after being overtaken by tear gas. Photo by Orin Langelle/GJEP

Photo Orin Langelle GJEP
Graffiti artist at work. Photo Orin Langelle GJEP

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