Enough is Enough! For Chilean Students, Workers & Mapuche People! – Federation Square, Melbourne, 10 September 2011

On the eve of the anniversary of not only the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, but also of the 1973 CIA-backed Pinochet coup which overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, LASNET organised a rally in solidarity with students, workers, and Indigenous people currently struggling against another right-wing government in Chile, that of Sebastian Piñera (see analysis by Council on Hemispheric Affairs).

The rally alternated speech and song, the latter in Spanish, and passers-by were offered a leaflet, the text of which is reproduced below. LASNET also plans a commemoration of the 1973 coup at Trades Hall tomorrow – see Remembering the Other September 11. (There is, of course, another reason for commemorating this date, as a speaker pointed out at the end: Melbourne’s own “9/11”, the World Economic Forum of 2000 … See http://www.takver.com/history/s11.htm)

See also http://chilesolidarity.org

Text of leaflet:

While much of the world’s attention this year has been turned toward events in the Northern hemisphere – the Arab Spring, the Spanish and Greek street assemblies, the riots in the UK, the violence in Libya- an equally interesting and potentially more radical movement has been taking place in Chile. Chilean students and the poor who have been excluded from “the Chilean miracle” of American-trained free marketeers have waged fierce battle with the cops. One teenager has been killed in the streets, shot by police in Macul, a borough of Santiago. Initial reports described the victim as a protester; later ones say he may have been an onlooker. His family places the blame squarely on the police. Whatever the final determination, he was a casulaty in a conflict that has pitted Chilean youth against a social order that is old, decrepit, and brutal.

The Chilean movement has emerged in the throes of winter in the Southern hemisphere, with young people going out into the icy streets, braving the elements, of course, and, more importantly, directly challenging the Chilean state and its gendarmes, showing determination and resolve in the face of the military police. These cops are the ‘carabineros’ of sinister memory under Pinochet. Their vehicles include armored personnel carriers, and they shoot water cannons at demonstrators. They more resemble an occupying army than a riot squad.

We want to remember Manuel Guttierrez Reinoso, the teenager killed on the night of August 24, but we want to do more than that: we want to actively support the broader rebellion and struggles in Chile. We see something in the protest movement there that we identify with: it is a struggle that is ours as well. The Chilean protests began as a student movement demanding the right to public education, and at no cost to students, even at the university level. The protests began on a whimsical note, with mass “kiss-ins” and other creative gestures. What made Chile different from Australia was the Chilean workers and the poor saw the students’ fight as one they should support as well. As the movement spread, it encountered stiff resistance from the state and its armed wing, the police. What started with a kind of poetry turned into social movements struggles[sic].

With this rally today September 10 in Melbourne-Australia, we are supporting the main sectors actively opposing the neoliberal policies, we are supporting the Mapuche (Indigenous people in Chile and Argentina) in their struggle for autonomy and self-determination, asking the right-wing government to stop the repression and discrimination against them; today we are supporting the workers’ struggles for better conditions and to stop the casualisation which is conducted to impoverish Chilean society, we need to stop neoliberal policies, we need to build something different to capitalism; all [are] welcome in this endeavour.