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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Chile marches for Dignity and social justice in this time of climate crisis and social crisis

Mass gathering calling for social justice in Plaza Italia, re-christened Plaza De la Dignidad, in Santiago

My friday activity was joining the hundreds of thousands of Chileans demanding dignity, after 3 weeks of protest and social upheaval.

There can be no climate justice without social justice.

You might not think this is climate related, but resolving the ecological and climate crisis is intertwined with resolving the social crisis. That is why just transition is so important. Civil society, and especially the unions, pushed strongly for inclusion of just transition in the final Paris Agreement.

For the global climate strike on September 20 about 30,00 thousand people marched here in Santiago Chile according to reports referenced on Wikipedia.

In early October Chile lifted their climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, but it means nothing to the millions who live in poverty or on the edge of poverty. Chile is the wealthiest counrty in South America, but that wealth is very unequally distributed due to decades of neoloberalist economic policies.

There are smaller protests every day in Plaza Italia, and less frequent larger gatherings. October 25 saw over a million people in the streets of Santiago.

On Friday the police continued to bring their watercannon and tear gas to bear from 1.45pm onwards in Santiago, around the edges of the rally. There were at times tear gas in the street of my hotel with mainly young people taunting the hated militarized police force, reacting with anger with rocks, makeshift shields.

A cyclist gives the finger to the hated police armoured vehicle

There was some risk in going out onto the streets, not from the protestors, but from the police.

The Australian Government advises extreme caution and to stay away from protests in the current environment, but the story of this movement of people, for dignity and social justice, needs to be told.

The police shoot rubber bullets and pellets straight at people's faces here. There have been over 160 eye injuries documented in the last 3 weeks, a world record for this type of injury.

When I asked if I could take photos of people and said I was from Australia, they smiled and posed. They want their story told to the world.

They march for dignity.

This is the true story to take from these protests, not the few incidents of looting, or the fiery barricades sometimes erected in the streets as part of the resistance to excessive police force and repression of protests.

This is part of my journey to the United Nations Climate Conference that was to be held in Santiago, now in Madrid. #COP25Madrid.

Read my other reports from Chile so far:

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