Santiago, Chile (Round 2)

And finally, I went back to Santiago to relax for two days and catch my flight home. But it didn’t just involve sitting back and relaxing; just walking around the city I managed to inhale tear gas two days in a row, in two separate protests.

In the first, I had just gotten out of a mall with a friend who is a professor at the University of Chile, but instead of being able to walk back to campus, we could only watch as the students attacked the police with rocks and classroom chairs, and the police retaliated with tear gas and a noxious liquid fired from a truck.

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The water flowing past would eventually turn opaque white as the tear gas settled.

The next day, the protest was downtown, and I missed everything except the cleanup, at which point there was still a noticeable, irritating odor in the air.

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Protests are incredibly common in Santiago–especially in May–so it’s easy for me to dismiss them as frivolous and a way to get out of class (which typically gets cancelled). However, it’s also important to remember that only 17 years ago, Chile was controlled by a brutal dictatorship that suppressed any sort of anti-government action or even discourse. The police seem to know that as well, and as such, tolerate protests to some degree.

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A mural on the university campus commemorates the “disappeared” in the dictatorship. In red-on-white font below says forgetting is traitorous, indicating that these are names that need to live on in everyone’s memory in order for the students to know what they’re fighting for and what to believe in.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to bring up subtitles on television. Many shows in Chile and all of South America are originally from the US (or UK), but dubbed and/or subtitled. However, even though both the dubbing and subtitling is in Spanish, they rarely match up, making me really curious if one translation is more Spain-Spanish, and another Chilean, or why there’s a consistent discrepancy…

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Also, a South American post would not be complete without its mention of a minor inconsistency or problem…

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And then, like E.T. or this bus said, it was time to go home.

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