Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Not your average dinner party.

Amid the insanity of the world that is today, three of us gringas sat down for a peaceful dinner last night. However, an hour into our complaints about teaching, we were interrupted by the banging of many pots or a cacerlazo. Although this symbol of defiance is not only specifically seen in Chile, it holds a special memory for its citizens dating to the 1970's during the food shortages of Allende's presidency (thank you Wikipedia for making me sound informed) and also in the last couple of years of Pinochet's dictatorship. My lovely Chilean roommate was the first of us on our balcony to join in the cacerlazo. Soon enough all of us decide to tocar las ollas and participate as honorary Chileans, banging in the name of education reform. After ten minutes, we took our tres gringas + una chilena gang to the streets, stopping at the corner where others had gathered to rally. I live in Providencia which is just east of where the more chaotic protests are taking place, so I believe this cacerlazo remained harmless while others in different parts of town turned a little more destructive. A student told me today that she and her family sat at the window to watch the barrier fires. Luckily, I avoided this.

In regards to the rest of the student protests, I have been able to steer clear of the more hectic parts. Last Thursday (August 4th), students rallied even though their protest was deemed prohibited. I tried to walk home after my class that day and found myself being trafficked down a side street. Normally, everywhere aside from Alameda (the city's main throughfare) is safe during a march. However, this day Alameda was off limits to protesters, therefore leaving them to congregate on the side streets. I witnessed students being forced into the back of Carabineros vans, smelled the faint scent of tear gas lingering in the air, and watched wide eyed as several students ran past me avoiding the water cannons. Please read more about the protest on Grace's blog.

In addition to the student protest, a group of employees at Banco de Chile have decided to stick it to the man as well and go on strike. Yesterday morning as I walked down the stairs to leave the bank after class, I was informed by the security guard that I couldn't leave. "uuhh, what?" I couldn't even respond in broken Spanish due to my shock that I was actually trapped inside Banco de Chile's headquarters (which occupies an entire city block). Finally, after some maneuvering and thirty minutes later, a group of other non-bank related people found an exit out of the building. I escaped, but only have my other classes cancelled due to the strike as well as other student protests occurring in the downtown. My next paycheck isn't looking so good at the moment. Perhaps, my next dinner party will consist of beans and rice and of course tocando las ollas.

gringas

por la educaciĆ³n

damage from the banging
video

1 comment:

Ceri said...

I find the contrast between the protests over there in Chile and the riots here in UK astounding. I feel for the students there... I really do. And I support them. It gets harder and harder to support the rioters here after hearing about what they've done but the biggest thing we can do is look towards the government and hope they realise that society here isn't what it used to be and needs to be changed. :S