Students protest economic inequality in Chile.
Chile Protests: Exploring the Causes of Conflict
Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera announced the end of the state of emergency on Sunday after protests broke out more than a week ago. The uprising was sparked by a subway fare increase in the capital city of Santiago but had been brewing for a long time. Millions of demonstrators then gathered in Santiago and throughout the country calling for greater economic equality. Watch the video below and answer the discussion questions. You can turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function and read along with the transcript here. Start video at 5m:53 and play until end 11m:13s. If time allows, play the first half of the story which includes protests taking place in Lebanon.
Peaceful demonstrations turned violent in some places as people destroyed subway stations and looted supermarkets and the government used tear gas and arrested people with force. The United Nations is currently looking into the government’s response to evaluate allegations related to authorities’ use of force and other crimes. Nineteen people have died in the turmoil. Chile is one of the richest countries in South America but has the greatest income gap between rich and poor.
More than 20,000 military forces had been deployed across Chile, a move not seen since the dark days of Augusto Pinochet whose brutal dictatorship ended in 1990. In the last few days, Pinera asked for the resignation of his entire cabinet and implemented several economic reforms. However, protests continue as some call for the billionaire president to resign.
Chile Protests: Discussion Questions
1) Essential question: What causes a person to protest against their government? What do you think caused the Chile protests?
2) Why would a person protesting for greater economic equality stop protesting?
3) Why did Chile’s president call for a state of emergency? Why do protests sometimes turn violent? Why was a curfew implemented?
4) What do you know about Chile’s Augusto Pinochet? Conduct some research and explain why having the military on the street would bring back harsh memories for some people.
5) Why are protests for greater economic equality happening throughout the world? What will bring about change?
6) What is Pinera’s point of view?
7) Media literacy: How do various outlets (look up three or four) refer to the people protesting? As demonstrators? As rioters? Both at times? Why is this wording important?
This article was originally published by PBS NewsHour Extra and can be found here.