Día de la Raza: How Chile Marks Columbus Day

Santiago, Chile – 12 October, 2015

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Like in the United States, Monday was a national holiday in Chile, meant to remember Cristobal Colón. Like in the United States, he is presented in schools as a heroic figure but disdained by everybody between 15 and 45 years old. Unlike in the United States, the day is spent in Chile honoring the indigenous community and protesting against further exploitation of native peoples. This day is widely referred to as Día de la Raza in Chile. Santiago marks the occasion by offering a parade that both celebrates indigenous culture and protests their continued mistreatment.

Liberty, liberty, for this the Mapuche fight!

The crowd began to gather in Plaza Italia at 9:00 AM.  Mapuche leaders spoke to the crowd, while the different groups met and organized.

IMG_3947The majority of the marching groups were there to protest the continued mistreatment of the Mapuche and indigenous peoples of South America. They memorialized martyrs and called for the current Chilean government to resign.

 

Santiago has a large Palestinian community, and several groups likened the treatment of pan-American indigenous groups to the current struggles of the Palestinians.

 

The same 25 communists who try to co-opt every Santiago protest showed up on cue, conveniently forgetting about the treatment of the non-Russian people of satellite states absorbed by the USSR and the enforced deletion of history in said satellite states, but I digress.

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IMG_3960IMG_3967I ran to work to tell the others about the gathering, and returned to see that the march had started. The back of the parade was mostly groups singing or dancing in traditional dress, while the front focused more on protest. I stuck around the back.

Two friends forged ahead, capturing stunning photos of the march.

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Our only fight: Defend our territory.
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No impunity for the teachers of yesterday and today.

While the marchers were coherent and well-organized, the local Mensa chapter president pulled down a plastic sign and tried repeatedly to light it. We can’t all be winners.

IMG_3976Overall, it was an amazing experience, and one I wish we would emulate more in the US. It certainly beat posting anti-Colombus facebook memes.

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