Activism can be passionate, loud and visible, or it can be passive, simple and resilient. At Poclacíon La Victoria and Curarrehue, we saw two examples of resistance against gentrification, forceful displacement and environmental interference. The residents of these two areas stood their ground against the dictatorship and the neoliberal state to preserve their culture, their land and their identities.
Poblacíon La Victoria is a neighborhood at the outskirts of Santiago, where the Communist headquarters of Chile is located. La Victoria was a focal point of resistance during the Pinochet dictatorship. Journalists and communists who resided in the poblacíon where murdered and the administration set up police departments within the neighborhood. Yet, the neighborhood stood by their beliefs against the hegemony of the government and neoliberalism. To this day, they remain a monetarily poor community that employs a communist structure. Everyone in the community helps each other out and share meals at the communist center. The government currently mostly stay out of the Poblacíon and let them self-govern, except for collecting taxes.
For our last full week in Chile, we traveled 10 hours south to Curarrehue, a Mapuche (indigenous population of Chile) community on the border of Argentina. We stayed with Mapuche families and listened to their stories of resistance. As indigenous people who have lived on the land for thousands of years, their way of life is an active form of protest to the Capitalist, neoliberal economic system that destroyed their sacred land and threatens the livelihood of their community. The Werken (messenger) of the lof(community) led us to Trankura, one of their sacred rivers, and told us the story of how they fought hydroelectric companies from building hydro dams on this river to make profit. The projects would not only disrespect the Mapuche spiritual life, but also ruin their environment. Besides lobbying, debating in court, actively protesting, I believe that continued tranquil and self-sufficient lifestyle is a deliberate rejection to the Capitalistic ideologies. Families here live in harmony and help each other, and produce their own food and protect their own lands. The lifestyle really inspires me to rethink my daily life practices, and whether or not they align with my beliefs.