In mid-October 2019, conservative President of Chile Sebastián Piñera raised subway fares in the capital city of Santiago and the move started a nationwide wave of protests. Piñera quickly canceled the fee increase but the people of Chile continued their protests in order to bring attention to the inequality, high cost of living and privatization occurring in their country. Many of the protestors explicitly demanded that Piñera step down.
The people of Chile have been dealing with neoliberalism for decades and their lives are affected in many ways because of it. The protests in that country have even spread to Argentina where a protestor, Juan Carlos Giordano, stated that the people don’t have access to water, electricity, and that the prices of most goods in his country are at first world-levels while the salaries are at third world-levels.
In response to the daily mass demonstrations that rocked the country, Piñera declared a state of emergency in Santiago and five other cities, imposed a curfew and sent the military into the streets to restore order. He declared war against the protestors, calling their movement “a powerful enemy who is willing to use violence without any limits.” More than 5,000 protestors were detained, 18 killed, and hundreds more shot and wounded by the military during a two week period in October. (According to a March 11, 2020 Reuters report, the ongoing demonstrations have resulted in 30 dead and over 30,000 injured total).
Only a few corporate media covered the initial wave of protests, such as CNN on October 28, 2019 and CBS News on October 19, 2019. At its best, the corporate news coverage of the upheaval in Chile was cursory and sporadic. By contrast, when the demonstrations were at their most intense, Democracy Now! covered the events day-by-day as they were occurring, providing in depth, up-to-date information and conducting interviews with participants and expert commentators.
“‘We Want Democracy to Be Restored,’” Democracy Now!, October 21, 2019, https://www.democracynow.org/2019/10/21/chile_metro_fare_hike_nationwide_protests.
“Massive Protests Continue in Chile,” Democracy Now!, October 22, 2019, https://www.democracynow.org/2019/10/22/headlines/massive_protests_continue_in_chile.
“A Fight Against Neoliberalism,” Democracy Now!, October 28, 2019, https://www.democracynow.org/2019/10/28/a_fight_against_neoliberalism_over_a.
“Protests in Chile Were Sparked By a Subway Fare Hike, But Come After ‘30 Years of a Social Crisis,’” Democracy Now!, October 29, 2019, https://www.democracynow.org/2019/10/29/chile_protests_subway_fare_hike_neoliberalism.
Student Researcher: Jocelyn Ruiz Aguilera (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)