A cruel administration abuses citizens. Thousands die. Violence is incited to overturn election results. Women lead a mass movement. Dictator is overthrown.
Sound familiar? No. It's not America. This was Chile.
How does a popular, women-led, grassroots democratic movement toppled a male, pale and stale dictatorship. What role does art and culture play in a mass uprising, when the powerful control all the media outlets and use them to spread propaganda? What lessons does Chile have for grassroots organizers around the world? The Museum of Memory and Human Rights offers answers,
The movement used artwork and peaceful protests to spark the popular uprising. "Grassroots media developed by and accessible to members of a local community or group, and conceptualized as a key tool in the process of social change. They have developed out of concerns with problematic representations of women and other marginalized peoples in mainstream media, as well as limited access to the media and political participation for marginalized groups." - iResearchNet
Women lead grassroots movement for change
The power of art in the fight for change
Women’s movements worldwide have thus worked to develop grassroots media that are conceptualized and based locally and that operate very differently from mainstream commercial or state-run media. The goals of feminist grassroots media are varied, but generally involve the desire to strengthen the self-confidence of women and other marginalized peoples, and to empower them to challenge, change, and take charge of the media and their representations. iResearchNet
In a US-backed coup in 1973, Pinochet, a military general, seized power from democratically-elected Marxist President Salvador Allende. Allende was killed and his supporters were immediately targeted. And, in the stretch of the 17-year dictatorship that followed, more than 33,000 people were imprisoned in detention centers or concentration camps — 94 percent of those political detainees were tortured.
Marcia Scantlebury, 75, still suffers pain from the torture she endured during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. “When they torture you with electricity,” she recalled, “your body jumps, like a fish.” Scantlebury was part of the resistance which orchestrated clandestine meetings during the dictatorship to coordinate resistance. Pinochet’s regime suppressed opponents through exile, torture, and forced disappearance. Scantlebury said she was subjected to electrocution on the most sensitive parts of her body. “The main torture is the vagina,” she told Women Under Siege. “It is the wettest part of the body, which conducts the most electricity." - Women's Media Center
How dictators steal power
The President's close supporters have opted for disrupting the election and making sure that he stays in office regardless of the cost. They plan to derail the vote count by encouraging and staging acts of violence. They hope that such violence will elicit further reprisals by the radical opposition and begin a cycle of rioting and disorder.
Their plans call for government security forces to intervene forcefully and, citing damage to the electoral process and balloting facilities, to declare a state of emergency. At that point, the elections would be suspended, declared invalid, and postponed indefinitely. The contingency plans would subvert the constitutional process. If the opposition reacts the way the government hopes it will and plays into its hands, the probability of serious, widespread bloodshed will increase considerably.
They have stated that the military will not tolerate significant opposition violence or any activity recognized by the government as unconstitutional. They added that if the opposition were to challenge the government and engage in anti-government activity, the military would take extreme, forceful measures to contain such activity. - Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) declassified document
Museum of Memory of Human Rights
The Chilean government established the Museum of Memory of Human Rights to educate people about Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. Under that regime, many Chileans’ human rights were violated. The museum spans three floors and includes video footage of detention centers, newspapers from that era, and interactive displays.
The museum catalogues Pinochet's 17-year rule, which resulted in the torture, murder and disappearance of thousands of Chileans. According to many recent visitors, the museum succeeds in increasing cultural awareness of the thousands of residents impacted by persecutions, exoneration, imprisonment and torture during Pinochet's rule. The museum pays tribute to the thousands of lives lost between 1973 and 1990 through photographs of victims, video coverage of protesters and a host of legal documents, letters and artifacts from the late 20th century. - U.S. News
TakeAway: Use art and culture to spread the truth and counter billionaire controlled media outlets.
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