Karol Cariola: a swallow of the Chilean student movement

February 5, 2012 22:29 0 comments

The social movement led by the students shaking Chile is described as the start of a new era for this nation, which is still recovering from one of the cruelest military dictatorships on the continent.



Raimundo López

Karol Cariola is one of the protest leaders.  She is small, beautiful, has a strong voice and a maturity of thought and ideas uncommon in those who have hardly reached the magical age of 20.

She is the General Secretary of the youth wing of the Communist Party of Chile and President of the University of Concepción Student Federation for two years.

Karol Cariola travelled to El Salvador together with Camila Donato, President of the Federation of Pedagogy Students at the Metropolitan University of Santiago de Chile.   On 18 January, they were invited to present two books in the Our America Cultural Centre.

She wrote the prologue of the first text which is about the youth of leaders including Fidel Castro, Ernesto Che Guevara, Salvador Allende, Pablo Neruda and Gladys Marín.  The second text, “We can change the world”, was written by Camila Vallejo, one of the main leaders of the movement.

Karol, together with Camila Donato, records conversations with Prensa Latina (Latin Press) concerning the student fight against the neoliberal ideal imposed by the dictatorship which through terror made education and health into a market offering a variety of choices for the rich and discriminated against the poor.

This is a movement which has been growing for many years, it is somehow stronger in 2011, taking on a different momentum, and has managed to revive a process which was already being developed.

“In 2005, the student movement generated a process, -  unlike that of 2011 – when it did not manage a coherent and national unity, but in 2006 it had concrete repercussions, when the secondary students, the “penguins”, made the so-called penguin “call” (the Penguinazo), no longer questioning the ideal in educational terms from an economic perspective only, but also from a more structural perspective”, she says.

Following that it managed to change the Constitutional Organic Law of Education, signed by Pinochet the day before his dictatorship ended.

“Perhaps one of the clearest and most concrete characteristics regarding the slant, the discrimination generated by public education and its lack of quality, is that only 17% of students graduating from public education succeed in going on to university or another form of public higher education.

The rest have to consider what options they have left, for example, private education which is extremely expensive”, she says.

“The Neoliberal economic and social ideal is based on exclusion, inequality and the deepening of this inequality.  It is one of the main reasons why in this country, these contradictions occur in such an absurd and definite manner”.

“Even today, we wear the straitjackets which have not allowed the Chilean people to wake up from the oppression, from the submission which the dictatorship bestowed upon us more than 40 years ago”.

Karol tells how, luckily, in 2009, the student movement developed a National Conference on Education, which “has managed to involve teachers, academics, parents and guardians, secondary students, and all stakeholders involved in education”.

She describes how this was the start of what was to come later.  They thought in 2010 that the social movement, the student movement in particular, would have a greater impact but unfortunately, the country was hit by an earthquake.
At the time, Karol was President of the University of Concepción Student Federation and remembers that the movement answered the immediate call for help from victims of the devastating earthquake.

They needed a practical, fast and flexible response and the government was not able to provide it, she said.  “The organisation of the student movement, from voluntary groups which emerged from Arica to Punta Arenas, the two extremes of the country, to move to the affected regions, was a demonstration of strength, of unity, of collective work, which profoundly marked the way the student movement was organised in 2011″.
Karol points out that first to be put on the table were deeper structural questions, and no longer only economic plans.

“The need to reform the Chilean education system was discussed from the perspective of access to higher education, of funding not only for institutions but also for students, offering free education from the perspective of democratisation, on the understanding that universities like institutions must serve the people and the development of the country”.

“As I said, the movement has managed to grow because of these characteristics of implementing a much deeper appeal, and it also succeeds in developing unity”.

“And in some way or another, the Chilean people have managed to wake up from submission, from the numbness of years of exploitation, intended or not and nowadays, citizens no longer accept that education is a commodity, that health is about making a profit in the way that it does, that hospitals are no longer franchised only in their construction, but also in their administration”, she condemns.
She describes it as a type of curse. “I believe that the economic neoliberal ideal is a curse not only in Latin America, but a curse that capitalism has implemented on our continent”.

“Fortunately nowadays, the power that this ideal had is seen to be damaged and this is exactly why we say we are starting a new Spring, a new Spring for the Chilean people”.

In this sense it evokes the government of the People’s Unity and Salvador Allende, in that the people of Chile also had a very similar state of consciousness at that time.
“Without a doubt, she explains, this is the moment, also within the context of the global economic crisis, when our people must liberate themselves, they must free themselves of the straitjackets that the dictatorship bestowed upon us and which continue to weigh us down”.

“Fortunately, we now have an impetuous, rebellious, revolutionary and thirsty youth ready to bring about change without fear, which is very important because the youth and the previous generation was a frightened generation, terrified by the bloody dictatorship in which we lived for so many years”.

“Our generation is free from that fear, free from the paralysing terror which for many years kept our people asleep, quiet and without the possibility of self-organisation and growth”, she points out.

She adds, “This is what happened in 2011, when not only students but also the people, the workers, the housewives, boys, girls, everyone together, went out on the streets to demonstrate, each person in his own way”.

“I see a new hope for the future of my homeland”, she explains. “I see a bright future and I believe that nowadays, we have the opportunity to take advantage of this awakening, of this new state of consciousness, to take advantage of this leadership crisis of neoliberalism, as well as building a new force which must enhance the processes of liberation, democratic progress – revolutionary processes that are occurring throughout our Latin America”.

(Translated by:  Susan Seccombe – Email:  susan_seccombe@live.com)

Share it / Compartir:

Leave a Reply


*


seven × = 7



The Prisma News

  • Culture, Pages, Trade Unions, Workers ‘Private’ is ‘Public’: Health Care is our right

    ‘Private’ is ‘Public’: Health Care is our right

    “The Price of Experience: Writings on living with cancer” by Mike Marqusee demands an end to inequalities in health care and challenges the British government’s ideology which blames people for their ill health. It makes us think about how this “winners” and “losers”...

    Read more →
  • Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus Revelation of “Boyhood”

    Revelation of “Boyhood”

    This is the latest film directed by Richard Linklater. Astonishingly, the movie was filmed over twelve years, taking thirty-nine days of shooting.   Richard LinklaterPhoto by Siebbi Steve Latham   Tracing the life of a young boy as he grows into a young man, the picture follows the central character’s...

    Read more →
  • Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus Are we decadent?

    Are we decadent?

    “Decadence” is usually a term used by right-wing people to castigate individuals and societies with whom they disagree, and whose lifestyle they disapprove of.   Photo from http://goo.gl/9HxW4f Steve Latham   The arts are frequently said to be in decline, embodied in paradoxical trends:...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Screen Diego Quemada-Díez: “The happy end is a manipulation”

    Diego Quemada-Díez: “The happy end is a manipulation”

    The journey of three teenagers riding “the Beast”, the train that leads to the desired future in the United States, is full of risks and is destroying innocence, hope and grand dreams, metre by metre.   Diego Quemada-Díez Noelia Ceballos Terrén   From his first steps behind a camera 20...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Screen Marc Silver tells the horror of immigrants risking their lives

    Marc Silver tells the horror of immigrants risking their lives

    He directed  “Who Is Dayani Cristal?”, a documentary which recently premiered in the UK and recounts the dangers faced by immigrants travelling from Mexico to the United States through the so-called “death row”.     Marc Silver  Juanjo Andrés Cuervo   Thousands of...

    Read more →
  • Comments, Globe, In Focus, World CTRL + (H)ALT + DELETE: Israel and the Palestinians

    CTRL + (H)ALT + DELETE: Israel and the Palestinians

    There is a photograph of this graffito beside an Israeli army checkpoint; it seems to sum up the Gaza situation: electronic eavesdropping, media manipulation and high tech shock and awe to wipe the Palestinians off the map.   Graham Douglas   In 4 weeks 1,800 Palestinians including about 400 children...

    Read more →
  • Comments, Critical Dialogues, In Focus A requiem for Gaza

    A requiem for Gaza

    The killing of Palestine’s civilian population, including women and children, is unjustifiable. The people of Palestine can only choose between freedom and death.   Claudio Chipana                    How can a country justify the destruction and subjugation of another population...

    Read more →
  • Comments, In Focus Palestine and our daughters and sons

    Palestine and our daughters and sons

    I wonder what effects the facts in Palestina have on our lives. The Gaza Strip is more than 3500 kilometres away from London (and over 12000 kilometres away from the Latin American region, where I am from), and still, the shocking facts cannot be ignored.   Mabel Encinas   Palestinian people...

    Read more →
  • Comments, In Focus Palestine… Imprisoned in the open air

    Palestine… Imprisoned in the open air

    The genocide committed against Palestine is reminiscent of the Napoleonic phrase: “God is on the side with the best artillery.” It hits/ your whip is daring/  it teaches us to be stubborn/ and of the contempt of the threats/ our destiny is transformed in/ resistance… (Palestinian poetry).   Armando...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Globe, Latin America, Listings, Screen Documentary captures the presidency of Hugo Chávez

    Documentary captures the presidency of Hugo Chávez

    On 29th July, the East London Venezuela Solidarity Campaign will be screening a short film entitled “Chávez”, in partnership with the coordinator of the movement.   Luis Castro’s documentary charts the transformation that Venezuela has undergone since Chávez was first elected to the presidency...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Music The story of how Lennon’s  strawberry fields came to be

    The story of how Lennon’s strawberry fields came to be

     The fact that John Lennon wrote ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ in Almeria has been referred to before in historical accounts about the Beatles but the artist’s Spanish involvement went beyond this and  included some abortive projects such as the film that never was with bullfighter ‘El Cordobes’(the...

    Read more →
  • Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus Money rules

    Money rules

    Society is being hollowed out by a set of non-values which are overwhelming ever other set of criteria for evaluating worth.   Steve Latham   F. S. Michaels’ book, “Monoculture. How one story is changing everything”, analyses the deep structure of our culture’s infatuation with wealth. It...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Listings, Screen The real drama is in the ‘corridor of death’

    The real drama is in the ‘corridor of death’

    The documentary film ‘Who is Dayani Cristal’ will premiere in British cinemas on July 25th, the story of a migrant whose body was found in this deadly area of desert.   The film is directed by Marc Silver and produced by Gael Garcia Bernal, and is based on real events. The film shows the arduous...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Listings, Pages Don Quijote rides into London

    Don Quijote rides into London

    “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quijote de la Mancha”, a new play directed and performed by the company Little Soldiers, opens on 23rd July.   By Virginia Moreno Molina   The Little Soldiers company made its debut in London in 2010 with a piece entitled Pakita: Stimulating, Bitter, and Necessary....

    Read more →
  • Culture, Screen “Angola year Zero”: the Wild West of Africa & its identity

    “Angola year Zero”: the Wild West of Africa & its identity

    Huge changes have taken place in both Cuba and Angola especially since the collapse of the USSR in 1991. In both countries the sudden loss of Soviet support led to a crisis, and an increase in migration, out of Cuba and into Angola.   Director Ever Miranda Palacio Graham Douglas   Ever Miranda...

    Read more →
  • Comments, Globe, In Focus, Latin America Praise to forgetfulness

    Praise to forgetfulness

    Fanatical fans are from everywhere not only here in this country of crazy, violent, passionate people… without passion, they want to see themselves reflected in the heroic ball-playing characters, but the next day they still don’t agree on anything.   Armando Orozco Tovar   Forgetfullness...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Pages, Screen A debate: the new and the classic of Zed Books

    A debate: the new and the classic of Zed Books

    This publishing house will inaugurate their first “Open House” event on the 17th of July. It will allow people to find new books and take part in an open debate on various subjects.   Tony Phillips, author of “Europe on the Brink: debt, crisis and dissent in the European periphery”, will...

    Read more →
  • Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus Playing with dragons

    Playing with dragons

    How do we fill that vast expanse of empty time during the post-university phase of early adult life, before working out what to do with the rest of our lives?   Steve Latham   We drift through endless days, unsure of our purpose, attempting to fill the hours with something, anything, while we cogitate...

    Read more →
  • Comments, In Focus The tower of bats

    The tower of bats

    “We start to talk of food/ when we replace/ water with the essence of blood”. Fabio Arias.   Armando Orozco Tovar   It was during the years when thousands of members of Colombia’s left-wing “Unión Patriótica” party were assassinated throughout the country. At the height of this...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Visual Arts Fred Jordao: cultural cleansing & carnival in Brazil

    Fred Jordao: cultural cleansing & carnival in Brazil

    The carnivals of Rio, Salvador and Recife are different, but the opportunity to make money is homogenising them. Photographer Fred Jordao from Recife decided he was more interested in the popular festivals put on by the poorest people in the outer areas of the city, with no patronage or financial support. Carnaval...

    Read more →