October Revolution in & nbsp; Santiago
Tribune. Here we are. The October Revolution has been taking place before our eyes, minute by minute, for ten days now. Already 20 dead, more than 3,000 detained, and a whole country mobilized.
What happened to make this seemingly anesthetized people wake up? What role can we attribute to memory to explain the social explosion of which we are witnesses and actors?
One of the first steps since the return of democracy was the establishment of the Rettig Commission in & nbsp; May & nbsp; 1990. The practice of disappearance is then formally recognized as a crime. Collecting thousands of testimonies revealing the crimes perpetrated during the dictatorship, this "truth" commission guarantees in return the immunity of their leaders. Justice is exchanged for a partial truth whose story is confined between the thousands of pages of the Rettig report. We are then in & nbsp; 1991. After seventeen years of dictatorship and repression, the fragile transition process prefers to look to the future and modernize the country rather than face its ghosts. More than a decade later, the Valech commission officially recognizes torture and its victims. The impunity of the torturers thus identified is sealed.
These truth commissions, whose work is as invaluable as essential, have paradoxically contributed to the confinement of the painful and traumatic memory of repression. However, in parallel and despite a general denial, various associations of survivors and relatives of the victims of the dictatorship have maintained a combative memory denouncing human rights violations under the dictatorship. Commemorative plaques, when they exist, remain discreet, almost invisible to those who ignore the commission of state terrorism under the dictatorship. Because a large part of the population relies on a "memory of oblivion" fabricated by the official institutions and bodies of the dictatorship and still believes that the coup d'etat was nothing more than a great military gesture to save the Chilean people from the threat of chaos represented by Popular Unity [the coalition of leftist parties which brought Allende to the presidency in September & nbsp; 1970, editor's note]. The transitional era crystallizes the fragmentation of memory and thus contributes to an organized collective amnesia.
The media played an essential role in this virulent revisionism. While it is true that on the international scene, General Pinochet is indisputably recognized as a criminal dictator - and not a "savior" -, thanks in particular to the precious work of the Spanish judge Baltasar & nbsp; Garzón, in Chile, however, the period of Popular Unity remains extremely controversial and the justification for the coup and the ensuing violent repression is commonplace. The "campaign of terror", started in the 1960s by the newspaper El Mercurio, the most influential in the country at the time and to this day, has never stopped. Yesterday against the left movements, today against any form of social mobilization challenging the neoliberal model. The television culture, between reality shows, telenovelas and variety programs where miserabilism rubs shoulders with the cult of superficiality, annihilates all reflection, while the television news feeds the security concerns of the population.
"No son 30 & nbsp; pesos, son 30 & nbsp; años!" ... But how then a movement whose triggering is attributed to teenagers jumping the turnstiles of the metro of Santiago chose a slogan denouncing a dissatisfaction of three decades? The heroic emergent memory of the "pingüinos" [student movement between & nbsp; 2006 and & nbsp; 2011] is unequivocally a driver of action, constituting an exemplary generation for today's youth. Their mobilization led to the reformulation of the "untouchable" Constitution of 1980 in matters of education. The & nbsp; pinguino movement, widely supported by the general public at the time, constitutes a sort of moral reservoir for the current mobilization, because it was victorious. Yesterday middle school students, high school students, university students already in debt, they are today professionals with skills flouted by precarious wages and working conditions. They have become parents in turn and ignore everything about family life, collapsing under overtime to pay a multitude of credits to cover family needs: education, health, food, transport, water, electricity, retirement ... the circle is vicious. The model has not kept its promise, the distribution of wealth is a pipe dream, the economic success of the country touted by the political class and the media, a decoy. Two & nbsp; other very powerful slogans appear in mobilizations today, revealing the generational permeability of memory transmission mechanisms despite the imposition of this amnesia manufactured during the Transition: "Chile despertó!" ("Chile s' is awake! ”) and“ Nos quitaron todo, hasta el miedo ”(“ you have deprived us of everything, even of fear ”). From grandchildren to great-grandparents, this multigenerational and transversal movement calls for the awakening of consumerist torpor and the neoliberal nightmare engendered by the terror, disappearances and dictatorial repression imposed since the coup d'etat of & nbsp; 1973.
The declaration of "war against a powerful and very organized internal enemy" shows the intention of the government of Piñera to use repression. It is based on the implementation of a triple strategy: Piñera invokes the “fabricated” memory of social chaos attributed to the government of Popular Unity; it provokes the resurgence of the traumatic memory of repression in order to deter and neutralize the movement; and, betting on organized collective amnesia, it criminalizes mobilization by emphasizing recurrent looting strangely tolerated by the police forces deployed. An impression of "déjà vu" in the country's recent history ...
But this repressive logic further intensifies the convergence of fragmented memories of the Transition. Thirty & nbsp; years of abuse, lies and corruption paradoxically forge a kind of citizen consciousness. The return to the past, still criticized yesterday, feared, considered a source of conflict, is today the best way to seal the unity of a movement which this time aspires more than ever, to cohesion to formulate a common project. The slogan "No estamos en guerra" ("we are not at war") is answered by the song El Derecho by Vivir en Paz ("the right to live in peace") by Víctor Jara, spontaneously converted into a hymn of movement. Musician, playwright, teacher and above all a great humanist from the working classes, Víctor Jara is erected as a true universal symbol. He sang the Popular Unity Revolution. Following the coup, he was detained, tortured and murdered by the military. Singing her repertoire today is more than ever a form of symbolic justice and reparation. The anthem of the Popular Unity El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido of the Quilapayún group resounds everywhere. And each step of each protester on the great alamedas ("the great avenues") reminds us of the last speech of Salvador Allende, today converted into prophecy.
The October Revolution in Chile shatters the stratification of the memory layers since the coup and brings together fragmented memories, thus forging the foundations of the historical consciousness of the Chilean people as a whole. Pandora's box is now wide open, letting the ghosts of the past escape, finally forcing us to face them. In pain, of course, but also in the hope that the box has also freed that of a people who have a date with themselves.
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