What started as a student act of civil disobedience against Santiago’s rising metro fares has now expanded outside the Chilean capital. In a sudden uprising against austerity and persistent economic inequality, a proposed fare increase (the equivalent of €0.02) was simply salt on an open wound for the poor and working-class citizens of Chile. Peaceful protests, when forcibly dispersed by the national police, have turned violent. The government, led by conservative billionaire President Sebastián Piñera, responded by declaring a state of emergency and calling in the military to quell protests, declaring that the state was “at war”.
While the military enforces brutality towards civilians not seen since the dictatorship that ended in the early 1990s, it is important to highlight the international connections to such brutality. The state of Israel’s tactical and resource-based military support in the past and present for Chile should be noted in particular.
During Augusto Pinochet’s US-supported regime, Chile witnessed tens of thousands of political adversaries imprisoned, killed, or disappeared. During these years, Israel and Chile had a collaborative relationship, as Israel was one of the main suppliers of arms to the military junta.
Today, the armed forces of both Chile and Israel make no attempts to hide their alliances, citing on the Chilean Embassy to Israel’s website the aims of “increasing the bonds with...Israel, in order to make knowledge, training and experiences exchange possible.” Chile and Israel signed an agreement in 2018 which spoke of encouraging further “cooperation in military education, training and doctrine” during Israeli General Yaacov Barak’s visit to Chile that year.
Outside of Chile and Israel, it’s important that we call out military partnerships that perpetuate the oppression of marginalized indigenous people. Such ties between the IDF and other countries’ armed forces should be investigated and questioned. Further militarization of communities does not produce peace, but further brutality and injustice — and it’s time we talked about why we’re ignoring that fact.