Friday, 1 July 2011

Mass demonstrations and the government

Over the last weeks and months the tendency to hold mass demonstrations has become stronger. Hundreds of thousands have marched in favour of the environment, education, and diversity. This is unusual for Chile and is worthy of further examination. It undoubtedly goes beyond the issues themselves, and presents a real challenge to every political sector and the political system as a whole.

The government's reaction has also been interesting. For the most part, the approach has been to try to isolate the demonstrators from the broader public, presenting them as violent and ideological extremists. As I say in this column published today en El Dinamo, this language seems out of date, from another -- shall we say -- more military time. Worse still, it seems to imply that these problems don't exist. That there are external forces -- either foreign interests or foreign ideologies -- financing and pushing for causes which are not really in the interest of, as an American president once put it, the great, silent, majority. If this is so, Chile seems to be heading down a great, not-so-silent, road.

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