TRANSLATED FROM SPANISH BY SERGIO CALDERÓN HARKER
Less than six months after the Chilean right wing’s victory in failing the project to replace the Pinochet constitution, Mapuche poet and writer Daniela Catrileo reflects on her memories of the 2019 massive revolts and the solidarity failures from the Chilean Left to address the colonial structure of the state.
There is an image that is difficult to return to—perhaps it is because we are so far removed from it now; far away in time, far away from what could have been. There was a moment when we were rivers, flowing through the avenues and into public squares. Statues, genocidal busts, and settler-colonial heads were overthrown. We surrounded ourselves with Mapuche symbols, popular icons, Chilean flags in mourning. Posters and different phrases—witty, poetic, multilingual—plastered the walls. Even Mapudungun was vividly mixing with other languages.
As I invoke this image, I refer to the memories left by the 2019 revolt in Chile. While it all began with the mass fare evasions carried out by students in the Santiago Metro, as a protest against the rise of public transport fees, the collective rage that exploded on the afternoon of October 18 had rapidly spread to other bodies, awakening the spirit of struggle.
During those days, the struggle consisted of not losing the streets and staying there, despite collective exhaustion. But as with every revolt, resistance is not easy. They militarized the streets and shot their weapons at us. We learned to defend ourselves with what we had: stones, barricades, frying pans… Since the hegemonic media was distorting the facts, we filled our phones with messages reporting what was going on in each territory.
It is difficult to see that justice is yet to arrive, for so many bodies that had lost their eyes, that were tortured, and deprived of their freedom.