Note from Anarchists Worldwide: The following text contains graphic descriptions of police / military violence including sexual assault.
Chile is currently experiencing a State of Emergency 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 originated with the need to communicate to comrades from different parts of the world the present situation that is experienced in this territory.
From an anarchist point of view, we share here what we consider to be some main points to make known and to contribute towards understanding the current moment.
PRELUDE: YOUTH IN STRUGGLE AND THE SPARK THAT IGNITED THE FIRE
After a week of mass fare evasion on the metro service, featuring mainly high school students during the month of October before the public transport fare increase, multiple instances of individual and collective disobedience that resulted in the destruction of infrastructure and confrontations with the police forces inside and outside the metro stations, spread throughout various parts of the city of Santiago.
On Friday, October 18, the spread of these mass fare evasions and the level of radicalism they developed was unsuspected by many and underestimated by the government which, along with its loyal journalists and social investigators, still cannot explain why these events led to a situation of widespread chaos that continues to this day.
ACT ONE: OUTBREAK OF AN UNPRECEDENTED REVOLT IN POST-DICTATORSHIP CHILE
On Friday, October 18, the situation of revolt was radicalized at the moment when confrontations with the police and the destruction of capitalist infrastructure took over the streets of downtown Santiago. Initiated on the outskirts of the government palace, the actions of street violence did not take long to spread late into the night in various parts of the city.
Faced with a situation of generalized rebellion and diffuse chaos in multiple urban sectors, the police forces were unable to contain the outburst of rage that since that day has infected broad sectors of a society no longer asleep and fed up with broad sectors of oppression and precarization of life originated in the continuity of the neoliberal economic system and the police state installed in Chile during the recent civil and military dictatorship (1973-1990), conditions of existence and domination strengthened by the centre-left and right-wing governments that have alternated in power after the return to democracy.
The riots that began in the centre of the city were later joined by thousands of people demonstrating in the neighborhoods, beating empty pots as a form of protest and also activating riots, fire and destruction materialized in dozens of buses and public and business buildings attacked, looted and burned, having as a crucial element the dozens of subway stations that hordes of individuals full of rage vandalized and set on fire until late into the night.
The government did not let much time pass before declaring a state of emergency in the city of Santiago, a state of exception that includes the deployment of military personnel to the streets and the control of order by the Armed Forces.
However, a massive, organic, uncontrollable and unprecedented revolt in the post-dictatorship scenario was already unfolding, destroying in practice the obedience, submission and fear imposed by decades of capitalist rule in Chile.
ACT TWO: EXTENSION OF DESTRUCTIVE INSUBORDINATION AND COMMENCEMENT OF CURFEW
On Saturday, September 19, the military forces are deployed throughout various parts of the city in the face of the persistence and exacerbation of the unrest. In the centre of Santiago and in the peripheral barrios the military guard the streets, commercial areas and subway stations. However, demonstrators of all kinds did not retreat and generally repudiated 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 subway stations torched by demonstrators increased. At the same time, the looting of supermarkets and large shopping centres becomes uncontrollable, and the image of hundreds of people recovering their lives by snatching merchandise from the consumer centres has become one of the most vivid images of the days of revolt and constituted an important factor for the government, overwhelmed by the looting and violence, to implement the curfew that same night in the city of Santiago.
Without any shame, the President and the military chief in charge of the city communicate to the media the restriction of “civil liberties” that began that evening from 7PM until 6AM the following morning. That night, demonstrations, riots, looting, fires and confrontations with the repressive forces continued again until the early hours of the morning throughout the city.
Between Saturday and Sunday the spark of rage spread even further, igniting mass demonstrations and scenes of savage violence in other regions of the country, giving way to a new moment of generalized chaos with multiple acts of rebellion and riots in various cities, leaving under siege, ruins and ashes in just a couple of days a good part of the urban infrastructure with barricades, vandalism and arson attacks on municipal buildings, government buildings, shopping centres and official media buildings. By that time the revolt had already surpassed any specific demands as people from diverse origins and places found each other in the street in the middle of the protests and riots opening a huge critical rupture in the Chilean neoliberal system and its model of capitalist/extractivist exploitation that affects the whole territory.
Since Sunday, October 20, the State of Emergency and the curfew measure were declared by the government against the uprising cities, however, the riots continued to unfold late into the night surpassing the impositions and demonstrating that the anger and violence unleashed by the people against the established order had broken the fear and passivity that reigned for decades in large sectors of the Chilean population.
ACT THREE: DIGNITY AND STRUGGLE AGAINST THE STRATEGY OF STATE REPRESSION
Since the beginning of the State of Emergency, state repression has sharpened and has also spread openly throughout the various uprising territories.
As anarchists, we make it clear that we do not take the position of victims, however, it is always good to share information about the tactics that domination puts into practice as part of the confrontations with insurgents and the rebellious population in general.
In the current context, the repressive arsenal of the Chilean State has materialized into:
– More than 2000 people have been arrested and more than 15 people have been murdered, as well as an indeterminate number of people reported missing.
– Shootings with various types of projectiles, including tear gas, rubber bullets and other weapons of war against demonstrators leaving a growing and indeterminate number of people injured and killed on the street, as well as animals and people living on the streets also injured and killed as targets of the shootings.
– Physical, psychological and sexual assaults and tortures against detained people in public thoroughfares, vehicles and police stations.
– Kidnapping of people using police and civilian vehicles. Images have been circulated of people being locked in the boots of police vehicles.
– Shots fired from behind in the street at people who are given the false impression of escaping from arrests.
– False permissions given by police and military to loot supermarkets that end in arrests and murders that are later reported as deaths caused as a result of the riots.
– Fires in large commercial premises caused by repressive forces so that companies can collect the associated insurance. In some of these fires burnt corpses have been found.
– Throwing people from moving police cars and then shooting them.
– Hanging of the bodies of people killed in vacant lots and of living people in police barracks.
The massive use of social networks such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook has allowed for the immediate circulation of innumerable audiovisual evidence of the situations described above, which is being disseminated by “alternative” dissemination groups linked to the struggles, breaking the communication strategy deployed by the government and supported by the official media historically servile to power.
The government’s communication offensive represents another part of the repressive action trying to colonize people’s minds via the following methods:
– Censorship and control of information in order to hypocritically hide, justify and/or question the records associated with repression.
– Televised speeches of government authorities that have included the recognition of a social crisis that must be solved by means of a “new social contract”.
– Explicit signaling of a state of war against an internal enemy supposedly organized with a plan to sow chaos and attack small shops, schools and hospitals. Special emphasis has been placed on the criminalization of looters and vandals. Also, in a report on the state television channel, it was mentioned that the riots were being organized by nihilist anarchist cells.
– Rolling news coverage throughout the day instilling the fear of shortages because of looting, spreading the idea that thefts would be spreading to ordinary homes.
– Discursive division of the demonstrators between good, legitimate and festive as opposed to violent ones, against whom any kind of repression would be justified.
– Presentation of a plan of economic and social measures trying to show interest in solving the existing crisis.
– Presentation of the military as forces of protection and peace.
Fortunately the repressive communication strategy of the discredited government has not had the desired effect and disobedience has been maintained in spite of the fact that some eternally submissive and obedient citizens have collaborated with power by voluntarily participating in the cleaning of streets and the surveillance of barrios wearing yellow vests and giving this garment a completely different meaning than the revolt for which it became known for after the recent wild protests in France.
OUR ANARCHIC POSITION: NOTES ON AN EPILOGUE THAT DOESN’T EXIST YET
Between Wednesday, October 23 and Thursday, October 24, the government and the repression have tried to show a softer face in the face of the persistence of the demonstrations and the large number of sources of revolt, to which is added the permanent disclosure of evidence of repressive acts and the public knowledge of the use of a subway station as a clandestine detention centre with testimonies of torture.
In these days, the signs seem to indicate that the generalized revolt has diminished a little in intensity derived to a situation of permanent days of protest with the constant presence of disturbances and confrontations. There are more than a few of us who think that this could give way to a context of progressive pacification with the persistence of some pockets of revolt, strengthening the selective repression against people already known for their participation in social movements, collectives and environments of radical struggle. In fact, people linked to student and environmental movements have already been arrested.
In spite of what may come, those of us who have confronted power and authority long before the current social outburst know that all the repressive and communication practices listed above are part of the repressive arsenal that we and other groups have faced throughout the existence of the state and authority throughout history. Therefore, what we are witnessing today is a postmodern reactualization of methods and strategies already deployed in previous dictatorial and democratic regimes in Chile, Latin America and the rest of the world where domination has affected their interests and has not hesitated to show its true face of planned and systematic oppression.
We know that the opposition and confrontation to the domination has been protagonized throughout the centuries by innumerable generations of rebels, insurrectionists, revolutionaries and subversives of all kinds, in the same way that we have the certainty that we the anarchists have been together with the Mapuche communities in resistance and the hooded youth that in the last 2 decades have known torture, prison and death as part of the repressive politics of the state in the face of the resistance and the continuous attack that we have developed against the capitalist and authoritarian social order.
Today many people are witnessing what we have been propagating for years: that the powerful do not care about deceiving, torturing and murdering in order to protect the world that they have built for their benefit and that the only possible way out of domination against our lives begins with the 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, even those that pretend to look like a ‘kind’ face, are part of the counterinsurgency manual inaugurated in Algeria, strengthened by Latin American dictatorships and continued by occupation troops in Iraq, Haiti and other parts of the world. We know very clearly that massive and selective repression, torture, extermination, assemblies and communications tactics of psychological warfare are not a novelty and today we live and face them in a scenario that was never conceived as possible: to develop our daily lives and our struggle in a State of Emergency with the military in the street.
We also know that the existence, proliferation and persistence of anarchic ideas and practices of confrontation throughout the last decades in the Chilean territory constitutes a real, vital and dynamic element that has contributed in some way to the identification and attack of symbols and objectives linked to power in the midst of the current unrest, as well as contributing to the diffusion of a a radical combative subjectivity against the world of capital and authority. However, we are honest in making it clear that the discontent that has erupted with unprecedented violence in democratic Chile corresponds to a general revolt without leaders in which the anarchic individualities are just one of many actors present in the streets.
We have never believed in the good intentions of democratic falsehood, so we are not surprised that the repressive forces are aiming their bullets at children, the elderly and animals. Today we are also learning to live with the curfew that restricts mobility and the possibility to embrace and share among friends, comrades and circles of affinity.
Many emotions and sensations are intertwined every day and minute by minute: rage, impotence, nervousness and a quota of anxiety invade the hearts and minds of many people.
NOTHING HAS ENDED, EVERYTHING CONTINUES
TODAY MORE THAN EVER WE CONTINUE TO FIGHT AGAINST THE STATE, CAPITAL AND ALL AUTHORITY.
Sin Banderas Ni Fronteras