Santiago, Chile and Beirut, Lebanon are almost halfway across the globe from each other, yet the flames of protest, which have lit up streets in both cities, have been ignited by identical issues: government corruption and the excessive gap between rich and poor.
In Chile, the spark that ignited the flareup of the people was a rise in mass transit fares. What began with around 400,000 taking to the streets in the capital city of Santiago had swelled to almost a million protesters throughout the country by last weekend.
President Sebastián Piñera called out 20,000 troops. There have been at least 5,000 arrests, 18 people killed, and hundreds wounded.
With echoes of the former military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet who, with the backing of the U.S., ruled from 1973 to 1990, there are reports of torture and assault against some of those arrested.
Last week, hundreds of thousands of workers – truck drivers, teachers, copper workers, and other trade unionists – went on strike.
The same theme behind the protests in Chile, whose president is a billionaire, that “the most powerful have privatized everything. It’s been that way for 30 years,” echoes the global discontent… strikes or no strikes.
People feel it in their pocketbooks… they feel it in their bones.