Politics As Usual? Never!
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because ALL politics is very, very local.
By Eugene S. Robinson
In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”
María Soledad Acuña Díaz
I am from Curicó. It’s a city of 163,000 in the center of Chile. An agricultural and wine region that’s south of the capital, Santiago. It was a beautiful city to grow up in. My mom? A medical technologist who works in a public institution. My dad is a psychiatrist and I have a brother who is a journalist. But I’m the first one in politics.
My grandfather used to be very appreciated by important politicians of that time, such as Máximo Pacheco Gómez, who used to visit him every time he could. My grandfather couldn’t go to university because he didn’t have the money. Instead, he began to work for free in the Communal Treasury of Curicó, later becoming the communal treasurer and eventually rejecting the position of national treasurer because he wanted to remain in Curicó, his hometown. When he died, we discovered notes on comparative law and found out that he knew a lot about tax law. He was smart and determined, and I think that this side of me comes from him.
I’m not a lawyer yet, but I have already submitted my thesis. Once the teacher has review it, I’ll be a lawyer. I have taken a long time to choose my career. Everything fell into place when I started working at feminist organizations in 2018 and saw that I could have a real impact helping other women through my profession. Before then, I had seen the reality faced by vulnerable children and I felt that I should help people.
I am passionate about being able to give a voice to the most displaced, such as sex workers, since I am a non-abolitionist feminist…
So, yes, running for office is fun and we have the opportunity to make visible the demands that arose in the streets during the Chilean revolt of October 18, 2019. I know that I have little chance of being elected because when we run independently from any party, the system is against us. But at least we can make a showing and contribute a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach — rather than a hierarchical program — where all of us who have participated are equal and treat each other as such.
But every day is a roller coaster! The first thing I do when I wake up is check my cell phone and see all the messages and emails I’ve received. I can easily spend three hours responding, sometimes concentrating so much that I forget to eat. We have very little time to make ourselves known and we don’t have the money to campaign, so everything we do involves twice as much work as other “independents” who were able to form a party, or candidates who run as part of a political party.
Everything is against us. We have had to ask for a huge amount of sponsorships from people who signed electronically for us to be able to reach this important milestone: changing the Constitution made under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which was promoted by the CIA and which took away our fundamental rights.
The cause is so great that we have not cared about the physical exhaustion. We have been shocked by this corrupt system, where the most disloyal and inappropriate behavior is being repeated. On October 25, 2020, almost 80% of the people voted to create a Constitutional Convention to draft the new Chilean Constitution, which meant that we wanted those elected to be people from the people.
However, the political parties took over the process. The SERVEL, the Electoral Service of Chile, delivered money for the campaigns; the party that received the most money was Renovación Nacional, a right-wing party, with $24,586 per candidate and we, the independents, who should have been representing the people, received $122 each. I believe that this is a mockery of the people, since these amounts are so disproportionate, especially in the middle of a pandemic like the one we are experiencing.
So, in short, every day is beautiful chaos. But I like to call this the “Apocalypse of the Patriarchy,” since my great theme is injustice. I would like to address many issues that have to do with leveling the field, and giving the same opportunities to all citizens. As I said before, in Chile, we don’t even have fundamental rights, but rather we have mere “freedoms” to choose between a public system that is miserable, or a private system that is very expensive. Everything has been privatized, rights are consumer goods, individualism and the relationship between capitalism and politics has won.
It’s heartbreaking to see entire hills planted with avocados in the same place where people do not have access to basic drinking water…
For example, the Constitution grants ownership of water to the richest families in Chile. It’s heartbreaking to see entire hills planted with avocados in the same place where people do not have access to basic drinking water for human consumption. It seems like a joke. And a very bad one, indeed.
But in particular, I am passionate about being able to give a voice to the most displaced, such as sex workers, since I am a non-abolitionist feminist, as well as to the violated children of the SENAME (National Minors’ Service) and the prisoners whose human rights are not respected.
But win or lose, I already feel I have benefited from all this. I mean I never thought I would make it this far, so everything has been rewarding. I have had the support of so many incredible people that I have met throughout my life. I have received so much support and love that I simply have to thank life for bringing me here. Win or lose, I will continue working on more proposals for the new Constitution.