The police – the “carabineros – killed another protester in Chile on Friday night. I just found out.
Young Abel Acuña – all of 29 years old – collapsed on the ground from the pwerful tear gas that the police where shooting. When the EMT’s arrived to try to save him, the police shot at them,preventing them from saving his life.. So young Abel died with his lungs full of gas.
I was probably just a few hundred yards away at the time but knew nothing about it. There was so much tear gas, shouting and confusion – crowds rushing this way and that – I don’t think anybody around me knew.
So, we remember the martyr, Abel Acuña.
This morning, I passed by the same area. Even then – 12 hours later, the smell of the tear gas was so strong that passersby were coughing, covering their noses, trying to get their eyes to stop tearing up.
About a mile away, I got to talking with two young women who were studying the pictures of the other martyrs that were up on a wall. A big issue for them was the privately run pension plan that every worker has money taken out of their wages for. They seemed to think that plan was worthless. “I want to take care of my own money,” was their sentiment. They then continued, talking about a corrupt government, how expensive it is to go to school… All that sort of thing. I told them I was confused by what they were saying. They looked very surprised, until I told them that I wasn’t sure if they were talking about Chile or the United States! I mentioned to them that in the US today, more young people think socialism is a good thing than those who think capitalism is. They were surprised. I asked them what they thought of socialism. They weren’t against the idea, “so long as it’s not part of a party,” they said. That comes from the fact that the Chilean Socialist Party is totally discredited.
The government has arranged some sort of deal (they hope) whereby they will call some sort of national assembly to reform the constitution. These two young women weren’t having any of it. As long as the different parties were in control, nothing was going to change was their view. What they want is a national assembly open to all. One in which everyboy can participate.
This evening, I went to a local assembly. It was run similarly to how Occupy Oakland was run. More on that later, but the main point was a discussion on the government’s call for this constitutional convention. There was a discussion and a vote. I’d say 90% voted against it, although I’m not sure what that vote meant in practice. Those youth who have been out in the street every night weren’t going to stop anyway.