Latin America has rich nations that have been riddled with corruption for many years. Recently, one of the biggest problems among those nations is the social class differences, where the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. However, Chile has reached its limit. The protests in Chile are sending an important message to other Latin American countries of not allowing the government to quiet people’s voices by repressing them.
On Oct. 6, a fare hike was announced in Chile, and people were not okay with it. Chileans used to pay $800 Chilean pesos for their subway ticket, but it was suddenly raised to $830, which is the equivalent to $1.25. The raise in the price enraged the people, especially the youth — it is always the youth — who almost immediately began to protest, refused to pay the new price and pointed out the fact that the president, Sebastian Piñera does not even pay for his taxes. The people’s discomfort is, in my opinion, perfectly understandable.
Social inequality plays an important role in the situation in Chile. We know about the rich, the poor and the middle class, which often struggles the most; social classes are a division, and that means that there is no room for equality.
As a Mexican, I remember how my family and friends would refer to Chile as an example to follow, especially among Latin American countries: They have a good subway system, and their education system is also very good, etc. However, such an ideal country might be a reality, but to just a few. This means that not everyone in Chile has lived a happy and prosperous life.
Most of the salaries are not better than Mexico’s and their country’s subway, water, pension system and universities are privatized, and such privatization has been highly criticized.
Furthermore, the way the Chilean government dealt with this protest is what shocked not only Chile but other countries as well. An announcement by the government stating that refusing to pay the new price of the subway ticket was not a valid protest, and therefore, the government declared a state of emergency in the country and militarized the streets in an attempt to stop the people from protesting. A curfew was ordered as well, and still, the people did not stop the protests. Unfortunately, the government’s reaction to the protests brought back bad memories of how the government behaved years ago, during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.
The chaos in Chile is now added to the list of events that have been occurring in Latin America. The countries that have been fighting for their rights recently include Ecuador and Mexico, and similar to Chile, these countries are questioning the system that has been established in their land.
Although people grow with different expectations and ideals, I believe that one common characteristic should be present all the time: to make sure there is room for empathy. It seems that people these days do not like to share what belongs to them, but I refuse to admit that selfishness will characterize our current and future generations.
I would like to highlight that for a long time, Latin American countries have been looked down upon by their governments, but as mentioned previously, there is an end to everything, and hopefully these countries will eventually get the prosperity they deserve.
It is personally inspiring to see repressed countries use their voices to demand justice. Unfortunately, throughout history, such changes have often been achieved after a series of violent events. I have listened to journalists refer to these uprisings as similar to the beginning of the French Revolution, a historical event that shows what people can do when they have little or nothing to lose. It seems that history is repeating itself, and as much as I would like violence to be avoided, I hope for the outcome to be beneficial for the people and, of course, I will continue writing about topics that matter.
¡Que viva Latinoamérica!
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Victoria Raya is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.