Finally getting around to blogging about this! So us gringos heard about a protest in Plaza Italia in support of Aysén- a fairly poor, fishing region of chile that has been clashing with the government over the high cost of living in recent weeks. Of course, foreigners cannot participate in anything political without being kicked the F out of the country). We arrived too early- even then the carabineros (Chilean police) had put up barriers, brought tanks with water cannons, big ass, mean looking horses and the lot. Now, the carabineros are not the Mount Holyoke
Campus Police Pub Safe- armed only with a misplaced sense of authority over intoxicatedfemale students- these are military-trained motherfuckers with helmets and shit. Yes they had guns, tear gas and tanks, but damn it those helmets are SCARY-one Huff Po journalist described their get-up as being of the “ninja turtle” variety. Meanwhile, looking at the protesters as they arrived I noticed their heads were nice and fleshy and exposed.
Note: soft, squishy heads no helmets:
So, since we are early, we went to a cafe for drink and when we walked out we happened to be right in the thick of it- aka NOT the side where you observe, but rather the side where you are penned in with the seditious, disgruntled youth- who all of a sudden were being sprayed by water cannons:
I, of course, only had my shitty phone camera, but basically young students (some running away, some taunting/throwing rocks, but none that seemed intoxicated/seriously violent or even bad eggs at all). Tear gas, by the way, gets into every pore of your skins, it scalds at your eyelids and your throat— and we were yards away from where it was sprayed.
Basically, the students at these protests are reasonable (perhaps some very young and stupid), passionate and trying to engage themselves civically in a way that there parents never could at their age. They are the first generation that were born after the dictatorship- they have no first-hand memory of friends disappearing suddenly, the rumors of family member being sent to torture centers nor the terror of hearing a knock on their own door late at night. Perhaps they protest too much or too often, but this is more of a testament to how unique and fearless this generation is. No longer willing to accept a second-rate democracy that was given over begrudgingly by a tyrant whose laws still rule day to day political life in the country- these are peers I am inspired by because of the gravity of the shit they do give. Also, when 89 percent of the population supports the fight for free and quality education, you don’t shut them up with more brutality which then just harkens back disturbingly to the days when the government rounded up bright, young kids like these. You listen to them weon. So yeah chupalo Piñera! Also, you don’t bring a water cannon to a fist fight (unarmed civillian protest).
I thought if I did a blog about my time here in Santiago, it would end up being either really self-indulgent or super complainy (two things I can be very guilty of doing). But, i think I would like to keep a record of the things I’m experiencing and especially of the funny shit that happens during this almost six month deal here. But, if this turns into an annoying pity party, lemme know- cachai weon?
Here is a picture of me on a whisk in front of Pablo Neruda’s house:
See? This will be fun.