How to deal with privatization and fascism in your midst? Take a lesson from Chilean students. They’ve been on strike for years against it, and this year things are coming to a head, with a right-wing Pinochetist president in office. And when one of the Pinochetist’s lackeys, a local mayor, illegally closed the schools, causing students to lose an entire year, something hit the fan:
A day of protests took place outside the municipal offices of Providencia. Citizens came to throw tomatoes and rotten fruit as a sign of repudiation of the words of mayor Cristián Labbé, who arbitrarily closed the schools and caused all students who were on strike to lose their year.
Federal Deputy Tarud told Terra that “the measure adopted by Labbé to close the schools was absolutely illegal, since only the Ministry of Education has the right to do it. Mayor Labbé is acting as he did during the worst times of the [Pinochet] dictatorship, thinking he can still rely on the DINA [secret police].”
For that reason, a group of citizens arrived at 6:30 pm local time to demonstrate their rejection of Labbé, and in such a way as they used to do with anyone who defrauded the public while in office: by throwing rotten tomatoes at him.
They also threw eggs at the muncipal office building, and were detained by the Carabineros.
This was last Friday. And in case you’re wondering why the parliamentary deputy made reference to the infamous DINA, the CIA-connected political police of the Pinochet era, this page might hold some clues. Cristián Labbé, a former Chilean army colonel, is in fact a torturer who worked at the infamous Villa Grimaldi secret prison, operated by the DINA. Disappearances, deaths and terrible suffering took place on his watch. His name is fifth on the list of known torturers. He has never been held accountable.
And he’s still as arrogant and cruel as ever, blaming his old nemesis, the “Marxist left”, and accusing them of being “the motor and beneficiary of public disorder”. No democratic right of protest in the new Chile, which is remarkably little changed from the old Chile, seeing as Labbé is still free and still in power. No doubt he still thinks he has the law on his side.
It will be interesting to see if that other old Pinochetist, the current president of Chile, actually lets him go on getting away with murder, or whether he will apply the law of education — shoddy as it is in Chile — and remove this lawbreaker from office.