Camila Vallejo has changed Chile's politics in less than a year. We in the English-speaking world need to know more about her and those in her movement. This blog is an attempt to learn about her and make her known to people outside Latin America.
Camila Vallejo has posted a batch of photos showing her campaigning at the FERIA MANUEL RODRIGUEZ Sta. Julia/Manutara—clearly enjoying herself, and listening to the voters like a seasoned politician. In English, the word for this is actually Yiddish: schmoozing, the art of bonding with voters by swapping gossip, joking, and getting to know them. Vallejo looks like a natural-born schmoozer.
La ex presidenta de la FECh y rostro del movimiento estudiantil, Camila Vallejo, salió al paso a las críticas provenientes de la DC y el PS respecto de su postura de tener un ‘pie en la calle y otro en el gobierno’ señalando que “una de las razones de por qué se ha deslegitimado la política es porque los parlamentarios llegan al Congreso y se olvidan de quienes los eligieron”.
The ex-president of FECh and face of the student movement, Camila Vallejo, answered her critics in the DC and the PS who say she has "one foot in the street and the other in the government." She said: "One of the reasons for the delegitimization of politics is because the parliamentarians get into Congress and forget who elected them."
En entrevista con The Clinic, la aspirante a diputada hizo hincapié en que es compatible legislar y apoyar protestas en las calles “porque si se implementan políticas que atentan contra el 80% de la ciudadanía, la responsabilidad de los dirigentes sociales y de los parlamentarios es escuchar y hacer que esas demandas sean escuchas, que lleguen a ser respondidas por las autoridades, que los políticos dejen de gobernar para el 20% más poderoso y comience a hacerlo para la gente, sobre todo porque se ha demostrado que la gente se organiza, participa”.
In an interview with The Clinic, the candidate emphasized that it's consistent to both legislate and support protests in the streets. "Because if they implement policies that work against 80% of the citizens, the responsibility of social leaders and parliamentarians is to listen and make sure those demands are heard, that the authorities respond to them, that the politicians quit governing for the most powerful 20% and start governing for the people—especially since we've shown that people who organize, participate."
“No estamos hablando de generar caos social porque sí, de promover la inestabilidad como algunos acusan. Es todo lo contrario: estamos hablando de cómo se construye una sociedad más justa y en esa construcción uno no puede abstraerse de herramientas como la protesta social, menos quienes creemos en esa vía como un camino legítimo de exigencia a las autoridades. Y no se trata de ser comunista, aunque yo creo que ningún comunista de verdad puede abandonar la lucha social, pero más allá del partido en que se milita es la responsabilidad de todo representante de un movimiento social no darle la espalda a las causas justas”, agregó.
She went on: "We're not talking about generating social chaos just to promote instability, as some accuse. On the contrary, we're talking about how to construct a more just society. In that construction, we can't neglect the tools like social protest, least of all those of us who see them as a legitimate way to make demands on the authorities. And it's not just about being a communist, though I think no real communist can abandon the social struggle. But beyond one's party is the duty of everyone representing a social movement not to turn their back on just causes."
Después de casi 40 años de la muerte del cantautor chileno, su familia encuentra tranquilidad.
Almost 40 years after the death of the Chilean singer-songwriter, his family finds tranquility.
La justicia chilena ordenó este viernes la detención de ocho exoficiales del Ejército chileno, acusados como autores y cómplices del asesinato del cantautor Víctor Jara, ocurrido pocos días después de la instalación de la dictadura de Augusto Pinochet, en 1973, informó el Poder Judicial.
Chilean justice this Friday ordered the detention of eight former members of the Chilean army, accused as authors and accomplices in the murder of of the singer-songwriter Victor Jara, which occurred a few days after the installation of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1973, according to Judicial Power.
"El ministro en visita (juez especial) de la Corte de Apelaciones de Santiago Miguel Vázquez Plaza dictó procesamiento en la investigación por el homicidio del cantautor Víctor Jara Martínez, ejecutado el 16 de septiembre de 1973, en el Estadio Chile", señaló en un comunicado.
"The visiting minister (special judge) of the Santiago Court of Appeals, Miguel Vásquez Plaza, issued a statement in the investigation of the homicide of the singer-songwriter Victor Jara Martínez, executed on September 16, 1973 in Chile Stadium," he said in a communiqué.
La resolución judicial acusa a dos exoficiales como autores del delito de 'Homicidio calificado' y a otros seis como cómplices del delito. Inicialmente, el Poder Judicial informó de siete acusados, pero tras un rectificación oficial el juez sumó un octavo imputado.
The judicial resolution accuses two former officers as authors of the crime of "qualified homicide" and another six as accomplices. The Judicial Power originally reported on seven accused, but after an official rectification the judge added an eighth accused.
"Luego de reunir muchos antecedentes, hay un momento en que uno debe poner término a esa investigación y tratar de avanzar dictando esta resolución", comentó a periodistas el juez Vázquez tras anunciar el fallo.
"After considering many precedents, there is a moment when one has to put an end to the investigation and to try to advance with this resolution," Judge Vásquez said to journalists.
"Nosotros, como querellante en este juicio, estamos bastante satisfechos con lo que hemos logrado", dijo por su parte el abogado de la familia del cantante, Nelson Caucoto.
"We, as the plaintiffs in this case, are satisfied with what we have achieved," said Nelson Caucoto, attorney for the singer's family.
Eight former army lieutenants have been charged in the killing of communist singer and songwriter Victor Jara almost four decades ago.
Appellate Court Magistrate Miguel Vazquez also ordered the arrest of Hugo Sanchez Marmonti and Pedro Barrientos Nunez, who lives in the U.S. state of Florida, as the authors of the killing, and the other six former military officials as accomplices.
All have been detained except Barrientos, who is expected to undergo extradition proceedings.
What is she fighting for? Free education, first and foremost. According to the New York Times, Chile has proportionally the world's most expensive university education: degrees cost $3,400 a year, while Chile's average annual salary is only $8,500. More shockingly still, only 40% of teenagers get free high school classes. "The choice people have is between having debt," Vallejo tells me later, "or not having an education."
But Vallejo's demands go further. Her generation is pushing for a wider reimagining of Chilean neoliberal society – a society that they argue has not changed enough since the days of Augusto Pinochet, and which has created one of the world's largest gaps between rich and poor.
"We realised the problem was bigger, the problem was structural," Vallejo tells me, or rather I'm told she tells me by her translator Rossana Leal, a Chilean who grew up in Scotland after her family fled the Pinochet regime. I don't speak Spanish, and Vallejo doesn't speak English, so our every utterance must pass through the stoic Leal.
Everything gets confused, and I don't feel I'm meeting the Vallejo whose fluent and arresting presence you can find so easily on YouTube. We speak for 75 minutes, but cover what would have taken 15 in Spanish.
Still, we give it a go. "The debate became about the link between education and the bigger economic model in Chile," says Vallejo, explaining how the Chilean movement became so radical.
The message, repeated in her speech, seems to jar with her surroundings. Her presentation is sandwiched by a talk from Lord Michael Bates, a Conservative who voted for fees, and another from Luis Juste, a banker turned corporate responsibility guru at Santander.
So how does it feel to be squeezed between a banker and a Tory baron? And how much ground can Vallejo – a communist – really share with the centre-left NUS? Out of pragmatism, the NUS favours refashioning fees, rather than culling them completely, and its leaders have not always been particularly supportive of creative protest.
"It makes it much more relevant to be here," says Vallejo, who gives a wry smile once Leal's translation filters through. "It's important not to only talk to people who are convinced. We want to enable a continuous debate about what's happening with education."
The Chilean movement only became so radical through a similarly lengthy debate, she says. "2011 was the product of 10 years of debate," adds Paul Floor Pilquil, Vallejo's colleague at the University of Chile student union (Fech). A decade ago, he says, Chile's main student bodies were as bogged down in the smaller issues as they are now in Britain. "But then we started to connect all the specific problems."
La exdirigente estudiantil Camila Vallejo, famosa por encabezar multitudinarias protestas que debilitaron el gobierno del presidente de Chile, Sebastián Piñera, fue proclamada hoy como pre candidata a diputada por la comuna de La Florida, oriente de Santiago, en representación de las Juventudes Comunistas de Chile (JJCC), perteneciente al Partido Comunista de dicho país.
Former student leader Camila Vallejo, famous for heading many protests that weakened the government of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, was today proclaimed pre-candidate for the position of deputy in La Florida, a community in eastern Santiago, as representative of the Young Communists of Chile, part of that country's Communist Party.
“La juventud, como parte de los movimientos sociales, tiene que dar la disputa por cambiar la correlación de fuerzas dentro del Parlamento y renovarlo a favor del país”, señaló Vallejo, quien participará, junto a los también exdirigentes estudiantiles Camilo Ballesteros y Karol Cariola, en las primarias de la oposición donde se definirán a los candidatos a los comicios legislativos de 2013.
"Youth, as part of the social movement, has to join the debate to change the correlation of forces inside Parliament and renew it in favour of the country," Vallejo said. She will take part, along with former student leaders Camilo Ballesteros and Karol Cariola, in the opposition primaries where the candidates for the 2013 legislative elections will be chosen.
Hasta altas horas de la noche, integrantes de las Juventudes Comunistas estuvieron discutiendo sobre la postulación de sus principales líderes a las próximas elecciones parlamentarias. Camila Vallejo, Karol Cariola y Camilo Ballesteros serán presentados como pre candidatos, aunque la decisión final deberá ser tomada por el pleno central del Partido Comunista.
Members of the Young Communists talked into the small hours last night about running their key leaders in the next parliamentary elections. Camila Vallejo, Krol Cariola, and Camilo Ballesteros will be presented as pre-candidates, but the final decision must be made by the central plenum of the Communist Party.
A pesar de que aún no está definido cuáles serán los distritos a los que se postularán, los tres líderes manifestaron sus preferencias. En el caso de Camila Vallejo se cree que será por La Florida, mientras que Ballesteros y Cariola irían por Estación Central y Concepción, respectivamente.
Although it's not yet clear which districts they will run in, the three leaders expressed their preferences: In the case of Camila Vallejo, it's believed to be La Florida, while Ballesteros and Cariola will run in Central Station and Concepción, respectively.
Ante la posibilidad de ocupar un puesto en el parlamento, Camila Vallejo aseguró estar "comprometida con la postura de la juventud comunista de renovar el parlamento, de poder cambiar las correlaciones de las fuerzas políticas para representar los interéses del movimiento social y no legislar en contra de él,como ha venido pasando".
Facing the possibility of holding a seat in parliament, Camila Vallejo said she is "Dedicated to the stand of communist youth, to renew parliament, to be able to change the correlation of political forces to represent the interests of the social movement, and not to legislate against it, as has been happening."
Por su parte Karol Cariola destacó la importancia de que el parlamento "debe cambiar y debe cambiar de manera radical". Mientras que Ballesteros sentenció que "como generación tenemos la oportunidad de cambiar Chile, y como jóvenes tenemos que tomar este desafío".
For her part, Karol Cariola emphasized the importance that parliament "Must change, and must change radically." Ballesteros said, "As a generation we have the opportunity to change Chile, and as young people we must take this challenge."
Camila Vallejo has come to the UK to deliver its students a message: learn from what privatisation did to higher education in Chile or your universities will suffer the same fate.
Ms Vallejo, vice-president of the Confederation of Chilean Students (Confech) and a member of the Chilean Communist Youth, is a star in her home country and, increasingly, across the world.
In spring 2011, the 24-year-old geography student, memorably described by The New York Times as "the world's most glamorous revolutionary", led a student movement that engulfed the nation, drawing support from parents, schoolchildren and trade unions, and bringing much of Chile's capital, Santiago, to a standstill.
The protest targeted the South American country's heavily privatised and costly academy - a set-up that European countries are hurtling towards, she said.
"We understand that in Europe they are privatising the system bit by bit. Education budgets are being cut, and they are putting in place all the policies that were implemented in Chile in the 1980s," Ms Vallejo told Times Higher Education.
In Chile, more than 85 per cent of higher education funding comes from private sources, but institutional spending per student is half the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average.
According to Ms Vallejo, higher education is being run like a business, with fees for often poor-quality degrees being set according to profit rather than cost in a system reliant on family debt.
"We are showing everyone what the main consequences of developing this policy are," she said, passionately rattling off a list of negative effects including socio-economic segregation, inequality and slavery to debt.
Her trip to the UK, where she attended last month's Global Student Leadership Summit organised by the National Union of Students, was part of an effort by members of Confech and the Continental Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Students to tell Chile's story - and to discourage other countries from emulating a nation that in many ways is seen as a Latin American success story.
Part of the message is that European students must lose their fear of engaging in ideological debates about education, said Paul Floor, international officer at Confech, who also travelled to the UK with Ms Vallejo.
"Students ... in Europe have not entered into profound discussions (about) the economic model and how it influences education," he said.
I want to begin by highlighting a question that is evident to everyone: education in any part of the world is, or should be, not just a human right but also a strategic element for the development of societies. So, what happens when this development has lost its way? Or when the development is nothing more than growing economic impoverishment?
What happens when the objective is not to improve the standard of living of human beings in harmony with the environment, but to improve the efficiency and profitability of companies, despite their consistent ecological and human deprivation? When the strategic objectives of our models of development are not equality, freedom and dignity of people, but the reproduction and profundity of inequalities, based on the accumulation of wealth, or even the generation of new forms of slavery like indebtedness and drugs.
Would it then be appropriate to keep allowing our systems of educations to be a tool of social and ideological reproduction of that model of development? Or do we want to design a new system of education that works as a real tool of social transformation?
In Chile, the student movement, and subsequently social education, clearly opted for the latter. In our country, it’s not just that we aren’t guaranteed the human right of education in our political Constitution given that it first ensures freedom of enterprise, but the design of our education system was precisely intended for the maintenance and reproduction of the neoliberal economic model imposed during the military dictatorship in 1973.
It’s no coincidence that the set of social movements that have been raised in Chile, at least from 2010 onwards, as well as raising particular demands, have all come to question our model of development. What has happened is that reality has surpassed the promises that for over 30 years, the model could not keep. This material reality has to do with the problem of inequality, the indebtedness of millions and the profit of a few at the expense of those millions.
Chile has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world. According to figures from the SOL foundation, a non-profit organisation that conducts investigations into the world of work in Chile, the inequality between the rich and poor has gone up 46 times since the 1980s. Since the 1990s, productive economic growth has been at 80% while workers’ wages have only increased by 20%. 46% of the population earn less than minimum wage (less than 400 dollars, or 320 euros) and 2 out of 3 people who are under the poverty line are salaried workers.
The truth is that in Chile, since the neoliberal economic model was imposed, reaffirmed by the Washington consensus, inequality has gone up and fundamental rights have been reduced to a business and a privilege of a few.
Because they do not have enough wages to live on, the workforce has been forced to borrow from private banks to finance education, health, food, clothing and basic services for their families.
Faced with this reality, never mentioned in official speeches about our great macroeconomic policy, it seems to us intolerable that education wasn’t designed to overcome such inequality, but to reproduce and deepen it.
When students mobilized last year to demand an overhaul of the country’s higher education system and a commitment to free, equal and high-quality public education, the official response was more restrained.
This year the government has declared zero tolerance for school occupations, and has called in special police forces to clear the buildings. Hours or days later, the same schools are taken over again, and the police return, a cat-and-mouse pattern that often leads to violent clashes and hundreds of arrests.
Meanwhile, small groups of radicalized students set up barricades, throw rocks and damage public and private property.
Protest marches usually erupt in street battles with the police, who use tear gas and chemical-laced water cannons to disperse the crowds and wield their batons to arrest demonstrators. Some students have suffered head injuries, broken noses, convulsions and breathing problems; some have been trampled by police officers on horseback. Increasingly, the observer groups say, detainees are reporting acts of sexual humiliation by the police.
That is why the helmets are there.
Before each protest, they call one another to distribute tasks and locations. On the streets, they wear hard hats marked DDHH — short for derechos humanos, human rights in Spanish — as well as large credential cards around their necks to make their role as clear as possible. They get training in the legal basics, and have strict rules to follow: no interfering in events, no cursing at the police, always work in pairs.
“The first thing we do is approach the officer in charge,” said Ms. Cisterna, a speech therapist. “We tell him we are there to observe police procedures. We don’t intervene, we don’t try to take detainees away from them, but we do let them know when they’re doing something illegal or irregular, that they can’t beat people up, and that we are watching and have their names and ranks. They pay attention.”
Her group was among the first to field observers in white helmets. Members of Sutra, a labor union, also wear them and monitor the police at labor strikes and community protests as well as student actions. A third group created last year, Observers and Defenders of Human Rights, wears blue helmets similar to those of United Nations peacekeepers. A fourth observer group founded last month by law students also provides legal assistance to detainees.
August has kept them all busy. Students occupied more than 25 high schools in Santiago and other cities, and took over the University of Chile’s main building and are on strike in at least eight other universities. Last week a group of high school students went on a hunger strike, and others chained themselves to government buildings and occupied Unesco’s offices in Santiago. Last Thursday 10,000 students marched from 14 different points in the capital, and nearly 140 were arrested.
Police officials declined to comment on the work of the observer groups.