#Cacerolazo in Chile: Who beats on pots, beats no heads

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ein Zug, from whose battered windows flames strike, tanks that roll through the streets of the Chilean capital Santiago, police who beat up on demonstrators. In between, there are adults, children, even cats, beating pots with cooking spoons. The Chilean-French artist Ana Tijoux raps about this drumming and these pictures about the political situation in her homeland Chile.

Tijoux has collected the most brutal videos from social networks last week. You see a policeman pushing his gun in the back of a demonstrator lying on the ground, demonstrators fleeing from tanks. In between, there are always encouraging pictures: the crowds in the Plaza Italia in Santiago de Chile, protesters dancing in the streets. The central and eponymous hashtag for it: #Cacerolazo. Thus, derived from the Spanish “cacerola” (pot), the demonstration trains are called, in which with spoons on pots and pans beaten.

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Since the protests began, Tijoux shares these video snippets and images on her Instagram account to highlight what's happening in Chile's streets. For the video for her new single “#Cacerolazo” she has put together the pictures to a wild round of violence, anger and rebellion, with lots of sarcasm and the noise of the protests from drums and pipes. In addition she raps: “Cuchara de palo frente a tus balazos” (a wooden spoon opposite your balls). For them, the protesters who take to the streets for extensive social reforms are the victims of a reckless government that tries by all means to secure their power. Tijoux chooses a drastic, radical language, countering the problems of the Chilean people with violence: “Escucha, vecino, aumenta la bencina / Y la barricada? Dale gasolina! “ (Listen, neighbor, the gasoline price rises / And the barricade? Pour gas on it!). As radical as Tijoux sounds, it represents a popular opinion, because other artists join it in tone and content.

So the poet and rock musician Mauricio Redolés published a poem on his Facebook account, which resembles a fire. Redolés criticizes the fact that military patrols in the streets of Santiago to keep the population in check. He remembers the time of Pinochet's military dictatorship. A time he has in dark memory. Shortly after the coup in 1973, the then 20 -year-old was imprisoned because he had belonged to the communist youth. After he was released from prison in 1975, he fled to England. It took him ten years to get back home. Now he fears a regression of the country into dictatorship-like states: “Vuelvo a ser encarcelado y torturado, it mi derrota” (to be locked up again and tortured, that's my ruin), it says in the poem. And further: “Ver a mi pueblo esquilmado, trasquilado, carneado, narcotizado, alcoholizado, it mi derrota” (To see how my people are exploited, shorn, slaughtered, stunned, drunk, that's my ruin).

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TOPSHOT - Demonstrator's clash with riot police on a fifth day of street violence in Santiago, on October 22, 2019. - President Sebastian Pinera convened a meeting with leaders of Chile's political parties on 15 lives, as anti-government campaigners threatened new protests. (Photo by Martin BERNETTI / AFP)

But not only in the social media, Chile's cultural scene is clearly solidarized with the protesters. Artists are also present on the streets themselves. So one could see huge illuminated signatures at Torre Telefónica, a particularly striking skyscraper in the central Plaza Italia in Santiago. “Estamos unidos”, was written there, we are united. Or simply: “Dignidad” (dignity). The Delight Lab, which organized this intervention into the cityscape, rethought every day what should be the headline of the protest trains that broke the curfew that evening. The slogans of the demonstrators were the main inspiration for this. Thus, the sentence “No estamos en guerra” (we are not at war) was projected on the facade. It was one of the most bellowing sentences on Chile's streets, after President Sebastián Piñera said in a speech that the country was “at war with a powerful, ruthless enemy who respected nothing and no one and is ready to use violence and crime without frontiers.” ,

The harsh tone of the government and the brutal police and military intervention have welded the protesters together. In addition, the demonstrators reflect on the traditions of resistance and thus provide a historical foundation that points beyond the current crisis, an additional legitimation.

The central symbol for this is the “Cacerolazo”, rattled by Ana Tijoux, the loud protest with cookware. The origin of this form of demonstration lies in the turbulent seventies. At that time, housewives with cookware pulled against the socialist government of Allende through the streets. The empty pots symbolized the plight they suffered from food rationing. But even during the ensuing dictatorship Pinochets was demonstrated with pots and pans. That is why the “Cacerolazo” is so popular today: it can not be assigned to any political spectrum, is easy to implement and non-violent. So dare to participate people who would otherwise never attend a demonstration.

Head of State Sebastián Piñera dismisses the entire government

Under pressure from unprecedented mass protests, Chile's head of state Sebastián Piñera has dismissed his entire government. The curfew in the capital Santiago de Chile was lifted after a week.

But on the streets of Chile you do not just hear stories. Also musical protest traditions are continued. Protesters sing the “Bella Ciao” made famous by Italian partisans during the Second World War. And also “El pueblo unido” is popular: a Chilean song, which was composed in the last year of the government Allende by Sergio Ortega and then became the resistance song under Pinochet. The 1970s, the bloody end of the Allende government, the rise of Pinochet – they are all present in Chile's culture of protest.

Last Friday, for example, demonstrators gathered with guitars in front of the National Library in Santiago de Chile for the protest song “El derecho de vivir en paz” to sing by Victor Jara. The artist wrote the piece in 1971 in response to the Vietnam War and the protests against it. Now the song has been re-recorded by a group of Chilean artists, a kind of Chilean band-Aid, For this the text of the piece has been changed. Instead of the “poet” Ho Chi Minh, the artists are now singing a “new social pact”, thanks to which there will be “no inequality”.

At the moment, it seems that the protests on the streets and in the cultural landscape have brought about the first changes: President Piñera has exchanged the Cabinet and announced that he wants to implement comprehensive reforms. But you are still a long way from an end to inequality. The population distrusts Piñera's promises and continues to take to the streets. But the peaceful protest, the singing and the noise, is just one facet of the resistance. Increasingly there are violent clashes between protesters and police and military. 20 dead, 233 injured and more than 700 arrested count the National Institute for Human Rights so far. For security reasons, the government has therefore canceled the December UN climate summit. “Chile despertó”, Chile has woken up as the protesters chant.

(t) Police forces (t) Allende (t) Salvador (t) Santiago (Chile) (t) Protests (t) Pinochet (t) Augusto (t) Allende (t) Isabel (writer) (t) Police (t) Ana Tijoux (t) Violence (t) Santiago de Chile (t) Crime (t) Military (t) Chile Street (t) Plaza Italia

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