Wednesday, September 11, 2013

UPDATED: Protests and Whatnot

Last night at dinner I began asking my host family more questions about the protests and riots that were happening and why September 11 was especially known for these events in Chile. So after obtaining a lot of really important information, I wanted to update this last post and share it with you all! Since the first day we arrived here in Chile, we were informed about the different protests and strikes that were happening not only in Arica, but in other parts of Chile as well. First the post office was down because they were all on strike (that has ended, so you may all send peanut butter and chocolate my way!) Then one of the government buildings was on strike—and still are—so we have been unable to attain our official Chilean citizen documents. But one of the more prominent ones has been the university protest that has been going on for several years really, but these past few days were ones that the entire country had been preparing for in terms of riots and protesting. As it turns out, September 11 is not only a very important date in the United States, but also in Chile. It was on this day in 1973 that the Chilean coup led by Augusto Pinochet began.

It started with the bombing of La Moneda Palace, (where then-president Salvador Allende gave his last speech and later committed suicide) and ended the the socialist government in Chile. After came a 17 year dictatorship under Pinochet, which brought repression and killing much of the working class, along with thousands of civilians who simply "disappeared." Forty years later, this day is remembered and is used as a day to mourn the people who disappeared, were tortured and killed in Chile. However, each year, the peaceful demonstrations commemorating the coup turn into violent riots. This was especially anticipated to be the largest yet because of the 40th anniversary milestone.

Wednesday morning seemed fairly quiet, but mostly because a lot of people were too afraid to go outside in fear that they might be attacked. We were informed at the beginning of the week that we should be in our houses by 7pm for the next few nights, just for safety reasons. So don’t worry, Mom, they’re taking care of us and making sure we’re safe. In fact, our director called us to tell us that our morning class would be canceled because the entire university and all of its classes were suspended today in case any riots were to break out. So we didn't have anything in the morning, and then we had a clinic visit in the afternoon so we were able to get out of the house for a little bit. This morning (Wednesday) on the news, all of the news teams were in Santiago filming and waiting for the crazy students to start burning things and destroying property… but none of that actually happened… so they were just filming a typical day in Santiago! I’ve heard, however, that there was some damage done to the University here in Arica, but I haven’t seen anything on the news or been confirmed of this rumor***

***As it turns out, there was a protest at the University. Students (and some non-students) came to the school and began destroying the property, breaking all of the windows at the main entrance and writing graffiti all over the walls of the building. I'm still quite confused as to why the students would destroy their own school, because they're back in classes again today, and now they have to deal with the construction and the repair of all that was damaged. I found some photos (I didn't take them, don't worry Mom and Dad!) from the riot at the University. There was tear gas and everything. It was odd to go back to classes at the University yesterday and have everything seem so normal and fine again. It was as if the riot was just another day and just another event that had happened.

Photos of the damage at the University:

But really, Mom, don’t worry ☺

All for now!


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