(TMU Op-Ed) — Since October 14, the South American nation of Chile has been in the grips of massive unrest that has threatened to topple the right-wing government of President Sebastian Piñera.
The protests, which began with student-led demonstrations against an increase in mass transportation fares, quickly spiraled into a nationwide movement against high costs of living, austerity measures, and massive inequality in a country that had once been seen as an economic success story in Latin America.
The unrest rapidly took a violent turn as some protesters fought back against the country’s heavily militarized police force, leading the president to hastily declare a state of emergency on Saturday while declaring curfews.
And while some protesters clashed with police and military, many peaceful protesters faced indiscriminate beatings and violence—including being fired on with tear gas, rubber bullets, and seemingly deadly firearms—at the hands of the police and military. Others have reported that Chileans are being tortured by state security forces.
According to officials, at least 18 people have been killed—including minors—while hundreds have been injured, and over 5,000 have been detained. Independent groups and unverified reports have warned, however, that the official numbers may merely be the tip of the iceberg.
The mass violence is easily the worst the country has seen since the U.S.-backed military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet came to a halt in 1990, and coverage of the events has dominated headlines across Latin America and much of the rest of the world.
Yet in the United States, media reports about the protests have been hard to find—with coverage instead being devoted to comparatively mundane news such as the never-ending drama surrounding the Democratic presidential primaries, Donald Trump’s Ukraine “quid-pro-quo,” U.K. royals, and the latest Star Wars trailer.
However, the events in Chile could have a ripple effect across Latin America, with repercussions lasting decades. Here are some of the reasons why the unfolding protests in Chile are one of the hemisphere’s most important events in recent years.
1. The Protests Prove That Washington’s “Miracle of Chile” Was a Neoliberal Illusion
The country has long been touted in U.S. foreign policy circles as “The Miracle of Chile,” with right-wing economists portraying the country’s development as a triumph of free market economics, even though this came at the cost of a brutal 17-year military dictatorship under the Pinochet regime.
Since the relatively peaceful transition to democracy in the early 1990s, however, Chile’s “economic miracle” has led to one of the highest rates of economic inequality in the region and has the widest wealth disparity among members of the OECD group of high-income countries. This has, in turn, led to widespread desperation on the part of working people.
As Bloomberg wrote:
“Chile has been seen as the living embodiment of the economic policies installed under Pinochet by the ‘Chicago Boys’—a group of economists, many of whom had been trained in free-market ideas at the University of Chicago … The fact that Chileans have revolted against the cost of living, then, is alarming, and suggests a similar situation could more easily happen in the rest of the developing world. Many assumed that insurrections like this would follow hard on the heels of the Great Recession; instead that moment seems to have been delayed amid a decade of slow recovery, but also deepening inequality.”
Economist Jeffery Sachs put it simply:
“Because of very high housing prices, most people are pushed away from the central business districts and typically depend on personal vehicles or public transport to get to work. Much of the public may thus be especially sensitive to changes in transportation prices, as shown by the explosion of protests in Paris and Santiago.”
As protester Juan Carlos Giordano told Democracy Now:
“They talked about a Chilean economic miracle, until it all exploded. They raised the subway fares. There was a rejection, and the government reversed itself. But the capitalist plans are terrible. The people say they don’t have access to water, to electricity. Everything costs the prices of the First World, and the salaries are in the Third World.”
2. The Extreme Brutality Toward Protests is a Product of US-Backed Fascism and Israeli Training
Since the protests began, Latin American social media has been awash in gut-wrenching footage of police firing live ammunition at peaceful protesters; wantonly beating citizens, including children; dumping bodies from police vehicles at night; and generally engaging in a frenzy of violence toward Chileans.
Much of this violence is rooted in the country’ dictatorship era, when U.S.-backed dictator Pinochet locked up, disappeared, tortured, and executed members of the left-wing socialist, communist, and Mapuche indigenous opposition.
However, as Benjamin Zinevich of the Independent wrote in an important report published Tuesday, the tactics are also a result of Israeli training of Chilean security forces:
“In recent years, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has seemingly used a tactic of maiming Palestinian protesters rather than lethally shooting them. For more than a year now, Palestinian civilians have marched towards the Gaza wall in protest of Israeli occupation, and the IDF has shot nearly 60 per cent of these 10,511 civilians in the lower limbs, with more than 90 per cent of casualties coming from live ammunition.
During the past week, these Israeli tactics have been used on Chilean civilians on multiple reported occasions. One woman has been shot in the thigh and was reported in critical condition due to excessive bleeding. In another, a 23-year-old man was shot in the leg before a military vehicle crushed him to death.
These similar tactics are no coincidence, and are internationally a part of what activist groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace have named ‘the deadly exchange.’ In the United States, municipal police, ICE agents, and other security agents routinely train alongside the IDF, sharing tactics and weaponry that can encourage racial profiling, extrajudicial killings, and increased surveillance on both countries’ most marginalized groups.”
3. Chile’s Protests May Have Averted a Live-Fire War on Venezuela
Buried in the fast-developing drama swirling through South America over the past few weeks is the fact that on the very day that the massive crisis erupted in Chile’s capital of Santiago, the country’s foreign minister essentially threatened to lead a war on Venezuela.
A Financial Times story from Oct. 14 reported:
“Chile’s foreign minister has vowed to work with allies to cut off Venezuela’s communications, shut down its air space and implement a naval blockade if Nicolás Maduro refuses to hold free elections.
Amid an escalating humanitarian crisis that is destabilizing the region, causing more than 4m Venezuelans to emigrate, “ever stricter” measures must be taken to put pressure on Caracas to comply with demands to restore democratic order, Teodoro Ribera said.
… Chile’s hardening stance towards Venezuela comes as Sebastian Piñera, the center-right president, takes on a stronger leadership role in the region and beyond.”
However, in a seeming repeat of the “Assad Must Go” meme—which has seen leaders calling for the ouster of the Syrian leader successively be deposed or outlasted by him—Piñera now finds himself on the ropes and in a potentially weaker position than the embattled Maduro.
Toda mi solidaridad con el noble pueblo chileno, quienes se encuentran en resistencia contra las criminales políticas neoliberales implementadas por el capitalismo. Abogo por el cese de la violencia y la brutal represión que vulnera los DD.HH. de la población. ¡Un Abrazo Chile! pic.twitter.com/fnFgVM5giU
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) October 20, 2019
Venezuela’s president has relished this turning of the tables, mocking Piñera as a wannabe Pinochet or “Piñechet” and saying:
“They are telling you it is no longer about 30 pesos (fare increase), it is 30 years! It is about education, it is about health, it is electricity, it is gas, it is transportation, it is work, it is wages, it’s discrimination, it’s inequality, this is what the people of Chile are telling Piñechet!”
4. The Protests Have Exposed U.S. Hypocrisy Over Human Rights and Democracy, Once Again
The extremely violent force meted out to protesters has largely been greeted by silence from Piñera’s allies in Washington.
This hasn’t failed to go unnoticed in countries like China or Venezuela, who have either faced sanctions or the threat of sanctions for their actions suppressing unrest within their own countries.
Speaking to reporters Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that the response by Western countries to the protests showed how their democracy and human rights concerns “are only a hypocritical cover” for their interventionist urges in places like Hong Kong. She poetically added:
“Judging from the relevant developments in recent days and the performance of some Western politicians, more and more people have come to realize that ‘human rights,’ ‘democracy’ and ‘beautiful sights’ preached by some Western politicians are just illusory as a mirage in the desert or the Sirens’ song on the sea. Those who cannot distinguish right from wrong and stand firm will only end up getting lost and destructed.”
5. It Proves That the Workers and Poor in Latin America Are Still a Major Force to be Reckoned With
While the protests began as a rejection of a 30 peso rise in transit fare—and concerted fare-dodging or #EvasionMasiva by students—working-class and poor Chileans are now protesting water shortages, university debt, poor healthcare, bad pensions, destructive mining, miserable wages, and every other social grievance imaginable.
This has manifested itself in tens of thousands of people protesting, doing battle with the state, the looting of over 100 Walmarts, and the country basically exploding into full-scale rebellion.
President Piñera is now gasping for air as the protests show no sign of ending. The president has apologized and is offering to increase pensions by 20 percent, cover the cost of medical treatments, tax higher income earners while offering new subsidies to improve living conditions, alongside other social reforms.
But this will be far from satisfying for the radicalized poor in Chile, who are demanding that Piñera resign. And as La Iguana TV reports, social movements and trade unions are also forming a Constituent Assembly that would be tasked with writing a new constitution that would replace the post-Pinochet one that opened the door to the militarization of the streets.
And a general strike shutting down the country’s economy could lead to the people of Chile winning their demands.
In the end, the government’s inability to take poor Chileans’ needs into consideration is what sparked the present crisis. Speaking to the Clinic, one retired citizen summed up the popular mood succinctly:
“Unfortunately in World War II to defeat Hitler’s people, cities had to die, right?
“If we don’t f*** s*** up, we don’t exist to them.”
Edward Snowden Applies For Russian Citizenship As He Announces He’s About To Be A Dad
U.S. NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has announced that he is going to be a dad and that he has applied for Russian citizenship due to the coming change in his life. Snowden said the move is to prevent separation from his unborn son.
Snowden and his wife are applying for Russian citizenship in order not to be separated from their future son in an era of pandemics and closed borders, he said on Monday. Snowden’s wife, Lindsay, is expecting a child in late December, the RIA news agency said, citing his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, Reuters reported.
Snowden fled the U.S. and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret NSA files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency where he was a contractor. Snowden exposed various capabilities by the NSA by revealing various extensive privacy violations. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently found one such program was unlawful and that the U.S. intelligence directors who publicly defended it had lied to the public. The court determined that the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
U.S. authorities have for years wanted Snowden to return to the U.S. to face criminal charges on espionage brought against him in 2013.
“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son. That’s why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we’re applying for dual US-Russian citizenship,” Snowden wrote on Twitter. “Lindsay and I will remain Americans, raising our son with all the values of the America we love, including the freedom to speak his mind. And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited. Our greatest wish is that, wherever our son lives, he feels at home.”
Russia has already granted Snowden permanent residency rights, his lawyer said last month, a requisite step towards Russian citizenship.
Snowden’s wife recently publicly announced her pregnancy last week in a photograph posted to Instagram. “A long time in the making,” she wrote. “Our greatest collaboration coming soon.” Snowden said; despite applying for Russian citizenship, he hopes to one day return to the U.S. to reunite his family.
Proud Boys group furious after gay community takes over #ProudBoys hashtag ‘to reclaim our pride’
(TMU) – It’s been less than a week since President Donald Trump name-dropped the far-right Proud Boys group, an organization known for their political violence against left-wingers. And now, the group is trending for reasons entirely out of their control.
And after having their name hijacked by the gay community on Twitter, the surly group of boys are less proud than they are supremely pissed off.
Over the weekend, gay Twitter executed a glorious plan to use the tag #ProudBoys to share uplifting stories and images of love rather than the sort of hatred and violence the far-right group has become known for.
Star Trek star and LGBTQ activist George Takei was one of the first to suggest the subversive trend, writing in a Thursday tweet:
“I wonder if the BTS and TikTok kids can help LGBTs with this. What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves with #ProudBoys. I bet it would mess them up real bad. #ReclaimingMyShine”
I wonder if the BTS and TikTok kids can help LGBTs with this. What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves with #ProudBoys. I bet it would mess them up real bad. #ReclaimingMyShine
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) October 1, 2020
Over the weekend, the viral campaign swept across Twitter as thousands of users ranging from celebrities to politicians and even the Canadian military used the hashtag.
Take posted a photo of himself with his husband, explaining:
“Brad and I are #ProudBoys, legally married for 12 years now. And we’re proud of all of the gay folks who have stepped up to reclaim our pride in this campaign. Our community and allies answered hate with love, and what could be better than that.”
— Christopher Ubiadas (@TheRealUbiadas) October 5, 2020
Rep. Carlos G. Smith, the first LGBTQ Latino legislator from Florida also tweeted that he and his husband Jerick Mediavilla were “Proud Boys” ready to vote. He tweeted:
“@JerickFL and I are joining thousands of gay men on social media to reclaim #ProudBoys from white supremacists and bigoted neo-nazis,” he tweeted. “Let’s replace the hashtag with images of love, positivity, and true PRIDE! Your two favorite #ProudBoys are here standing by, ready to VOTE!”
The Canadian Armed Forces in the USA also participated in the trend, and shared a photo of two men kissing, one of whom is a corporal called Brent Kenny, accompanying their post with the simple caption: “#ProudBoys.”
— Royal Canadian Navy (@RoyalCanNavy) October 4, 2020
Naturally, for the Proud Boys – a males-only group obsessed with proving their masculinity through feats of violence and milk-guzzling rituals – the trending hashtag was anything but welcome, especially after Twitter cleansed the platform of their presence.
Members of the so-called “pro-western fraternal organization” have been posting about their displeasure over seeing same-sex love on the much smaller rival app Parler.
As is typical for an organization that has been labeled a hate group by numerous monitors, online Proud Boys spouted homophobic, anti-gay hatred that they’ve long peddled and banked on.
— Allana Harkin (@AllanaHarkin) October 5, 2020
While most people hadn’t heard about the Proud Boys, the infamous group earned their 15 minutes of fame after Donald Trump name-dropped them in a notorious moment from last Tuesday’s first presidential debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Trump clearly had trouble denouncing political violence by his far-right supporters when he was asked by moderator Chris Wallace whether he would “condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities.”
Instead, Trump said “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
The Proud Boys are a group of nationalist extremists who describe themselves as “western chauvinists” and are known for their anti-Muslim, misogynistic rhetoric, as well as their frequent brawls with left-wing opponents.
However, the group denies being racist, despite its numerous links with alt-right, neo-fascist organizations.
After the group’s name was hijacked over the weekend, Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio complained that “the left” had turned the group’s name into a “slur” in an attempt “to drown out the voices of our supporters.”
The Esoteric Meaning Behind Neo’s Interrogation Scene in The Matrix
More than 20 years old now, The Matrix is recognized by fans across the world as being one of the most brilliant films in history, most notably for its deeper meaning and esoteric philosophy.
One scene that is particularly intriguing, considering the social climate of today, is Neo’s interrogation by the Agents of the Matrix.
Now, before we dig into the potential hidden meaning here, as I perceive it, and how Neo found himself in this uncomfortable position to begin with, let’s first establish some key points in relation to the overall story line that will help us to appreciate the implications behind this scene a little bit more.
What Does The Character Neo Represent in the Matrix?
Neo in ancient Greek (νέος) means new/young one. This is an important piece of the puzzle to help us understand what the directors of the film are trying to communicate to us. With that said, when we assess Neo’s character in the first film, we find that he is a solitary individual that keeps to himself and is struggling to find deeper meaning in this world by constantly searching the internet.
What Does The Character Morpheus Represent in the Matrix?
Morpheus in Greek mythology is a messenger of the gods. He appears to humans through dreams with the intention of delivering divine Knowledge and Truth. In the Greek mythos, he can appear in almost any form in people’s dreams, which could be because anyone, regardless of race, gender, or outward appearance, can be a messenger of enlightenment and Truth.
The First Matrix Film is About The Beginning of the Journey to Awakening
With the understanding of the deeper meaning behind what Neo and Morpheus’ characters represent in the film, we can now appreciate the intro scene of Neo sleeping (whilst searching for Morpheus) through a different lens of perception and awareness.
You see, Neo sleeping whilst searching online for Morpheus represents the early stages of the Truth seekers journey — “asleep” but still searching for deeper meaning in life — and hoping to find that meaning by seeking out a “messenger” of higher Knowledge and Truth.
Truth is Terrorism in the Empire of Lies
Through his incessant efforts, Neo begins to get closer and closer to finding the elusive Morpheus. This, however, also attracts the unwanted attention of the Agents in the Matrix, which represent the enforcers of the shadow government of this system. Their job is to ensure that no one exposes what the Matrix really is, and how it turns unsuspecting every day human beings into useful resources that it can use and exploit.
The Agents proceed to apprehend Neo and interrogate him, where they make it very clear that they’ve been spying on him and keeping meticulous records of his activities, both online and offline, for quite some time now. As we all know very well today, all around the world intelligence agencies are doing exactly that — tracking what we view online and keeping meticulous records on many of our movements.
The agents, however, do not see Neo as being a major threat to the Matrix system, as he is still in the early stages of his awakening and does not know enough to be a major threat. Instead, they offer him a deal where they will be willing to “wipe the slate clean” on his illegal activities online, if Neo will simply help them track down the man they call Morpheus, who they claim is “a known terrorist” that is “considered by many authorities to be the most dangerous man alive”.
This represents that the single greatest threat to this manipulative system — which is overwhelmingly ruled by deception and exploitation — is any messenger of higher Knowledge and Truth that can potentially awaken those who are still “asleep” to what the proverbial Matrix really is. In fact, one could argue this sort of power struggle has been going on for thousands of years, and is possibly why Socrates was accused of “corrupting the youth” by the ruling class more than 2,000 years ago and subsequently sentenced to death; or why Fred Hampton was assassinated by government authorities in 1969; or, in more recent history, why civilians that were peacefully protesting against Wall Street and the bankers for their part in destroying the world economy in 2008, were targeted by the FBI and even labelled as potential “domestic terrorists“.
Simply put, Truth is terrorism in the empire of lies.
Neo, still being somewhat naïve and unbegun in his journey, rejects the Agent’s offer and demands he get a phone call because “I know my rights!”
To this, Agent Smith retorts, “tell me Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak?”, which results in Neo’s mouth warping in the most eerie of ways.
This scene represents a lesson that all genuine Truth seekers eventually come to learn — this system is not concerned with human rights nor is it concerned with upholding authentic justice. Instead, it inculcates these beliefs and misperceptions into our minds from a very young age, because it serves to help legitimize its unnecessary existence in the eyes of the unsuspecting public and indoctrinate us as to why we think we need it. But in reality, our government guaranteed “rights” can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye.
In relation to current events, for example, many thousands of people worldwide have been arrested for violating curfew orders; In one Indian state, civilians were told they must take selfies every hour and send it to the authorities to prove that they are staying indoors; in South Africa, some have been fined for not wearing masks while driving their cars; In Boston in the United States, people have even been told that they will be fined if they walk “the wrong direction” down the street; Homeless people in France have reportedly been fined for not staying indoors; Some people have been arrested for attending funerals of loved ones because it violated lockdown orders; Others (including doctors and scientists) have had their right to freedom of speech censored online; In Australia, a pregnant woman was actually arrested in her home for facebook posts that encouraged protesting against the lockdown; According to the International Labor Organization, tens of millions are being pushed into unemployment; and travel all around the world has been severely restricted by these authorities who have taken it upon themselves to be the rulers of this planet by dictating what the rest of us can and cannot do. Whether you agree with these policies or not, these things cannot logically be called “rights” since they are so very easily violated and taken away from us.
There are many other examples that demonstrate how our government given “rights” are more of a comforting illusion than an actual reality, such as the CIA’s secretive Black Site torture programs, which have been done in cooperation with other intelligence agencies and authorities throughout the world. In these programs, people have been kidnapped — without any legal criminal charge or trial — and then taken to undisclosed secret locations where many of them are tortured for many months on end, in ways that are considered to be in violation of international law and basic human rights. The CIA, of course, simply claims they are suspected terrorists. In 2014, however, a Senate Intelligence Committee Report found that at least 26 of the people that were kidnapped and tortured were actually “wrongfully detained”.
Wake Up Neo — You Are the One
Fortunately, Neo manages to escape this unthinkable situation without any serious injury or harm. Soon after, he is contacted by Morpheus, where he is told that he was very lucky that the Agents underestimated his great potential and spared him, because if the Agents had known the great secret that Morpheus knows, then Neo would probably be dead.
Confused by the obvious strangeness of everything taking place, Neo asks Morpheus what the hell is going on, and what exactly is he talking about?? Without hesitation, Morpheus replies to him, “You are the one Neo — You see, you may have spent the last few years looking for me, but I have spent my entire life looking for you.”
This is perhaps the most important lesson the new Truth seeker must eventually come to learn — We are the ones we have been waiting for to change this corrupt world my friends; and we must stop looking for heroes and human leaders to absolve us of this very serious responsibility. Instead, we must all take on the role of Morpheus — which is to awaken as many Neo’s (new minds) as we possibly can, whilst also taking on the role that represents the journey of Neo, by challenging ourselves to become the best version of who we authentically are.
By doing this, we will help to awaken and unleash the unique creative forces of each individual’s problem solving imagination; and we will also find unity in our shared struggle against the injustices, and corruption, of this inhumane system which invariably exploits us all.
If not us, then who? And if not now, then when?
All my work is open source and I encourage it to be reproduced. I only ask that you give me credit, and include links to follow me — as listed in the EXACT FORMAT above — in an effort to help me build a formidable following of people truly intent on learning and creating positive change. If you are not willing to do that, you are NOT permitted to use my work.
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