In Part 4 of the Student Voice: Chilenxs en Manchester series, Denisse Sepúlveda Sánchez argues that the uprising against 30 years of inequality in Chile has awakened greater civil awareness of the inequality suffered by indigenous peoples for centuries.
‘It’s not 30 Chilean pesos. It’s 30 years!’ This popular slogan appeared on October 18th 2019 when the current social crisis started in Chile.
Students began to manifest their discontent with the 30 pesos metro fare price rise, but the demonstration turned into a generalised rejection of inequality and the Neoliberal system, which the majority of Chilean people have deeply felt and suffered under for more than 30 years.
Within this discontent, diverse demands have arisen. Among them, were demands raised by the indigenous peoples of Chile, who have been struggling since the Spanish conquest and colonisation of South America, which started more than 500 years ago.
‘It’s not 30 Chilean pesos. It’s 500 years!’ This phrase represents all the injustices and inequalities that indigenous people have been facing in Chile. This phrase is so important because is a wake-up call against the colonisation process, which still remains in our society.
The people tearing down colonisers’ statues in different locations of Chile – such as García Hurtado de Mendoza in Cañete, Pedro de Valdivia in Temuco, and Cristobal Colón in Arica– perform symbolic events.
These actions have been crucial in destabilising historical narratives and creating consciousness about Chilean history, which was previously represented from the standpoint of people who were colonialists and not indigenous.
In addition, the Wenufoye, the flag of the Mapuche which is the biggest indigenous group in Chile, became one of the symbols of the manifestation and rebellion. It has become more popular than the Chilean flag for many protestors.
This could be a sign that we want to re-build a country that respects and recognises indigenous culture, instead of focusing purely on our European heritage or North American values.
Denisse Sepúlveda Sánchez, graduate PhD Sociology UoM and member of Chilenxs en Manchester – a group of Chilean students at the University of Manchester and Chilean Manchester residents.