In the context of the strong social unrest that Chile is going through, the President of the College of Teachers -Mario Aguilar- called on his colleagues for solidarity and nonviolent civil disobedience. His words are reproduced below, as well as the video that he circulated through social networks.

Mario Aguilar in a message spread through social networks (transcription in English)

Dear colleagues:

I am here, at 7.45 pm. on Saturday night (19) speaking from my home. Immediately after I have finished talking to you, I will go to Egaña Sq. to participate in the pots and pans demo, before the curfew that has just been announced.

A curfew has just been announced in the city of Santiago! Those of us who are older are immediately reminded of the hard, dark times of the dictatorship…

It’s difficult, the situation is complex. I want to talk to my fellow teachers.

Tomorrow we are going to meet as a board of directors, on Sunday to evaluate the situation, and also to evaluate together with other unions what is happening. There has been a real social explosion in Chile.

Of course, we do not endorse violence or vandalism, we have never done so. We teachers have always been clear about this, but we also understand that violence has its origin, that violence starts from the powerful, that violence starts from having a violent system that violates so many with abuses, that violates so many with inequality, that violates so many with arrogance, with the arrogance of those who run this country, of the political class.

This is an explosion that Chilean society has made and it is particularly directed against the government, by the way, those who are mainly responsible for what is happening. But I also believe that it is a signal against the entire political class.

Here left and right have failed. Here this government has been the expression of the worst way to govern, no doubt, but previous governments are also responsible for what is happening. Also the previous governments fixed this abusive way of fixing the tariffs of the subway, of water, of electricity. Also the previous governments were accomplices of all this that is happening and were architects of all this that is happening.

Of course, today’s government is the most clumsy of all. Of course we have a president who has no social sensitivity. Of course we have a cabinet of ministers who are all people who have always moved up from “cota 1000”, in those elegant neighborhoods where they live, with all the conditions, who have no idea what it means in a budget that a tariff increase means 30 or 40,000 pesos more per month. Because for them 30 or 40,000 pesos is a tip. But for the vast majority of Chileans – including us teachers – it’s not a tip. 30 or 40,000 pesos are significant in our budget. So people are angry, people are annoyed.

Of course – I insist on this concept so that the trouble makers don’t come and attribute to us what isn’t ours – we don’t agree with violence, but we understand that malaise occurs and is generated when there is so much arrogance, so much insensitivity on the part of those who govern us. That is the fundamental problem. They are responsible. They generate the conditions for violence.

Finally, the violence that is seen in the streets, of course, is functional to power because with that they justify the military in the streets, with that they justify repression, with that they justify curfew as they are doing now.

We have to invite non-violent civil disobedience and struggle. That is our position as teachers. We have always had it. But above all today I want to invite my colleagues to take care of each other, to be attentive to each other, to be connected to each other.

Yesterday, for example, there was a colleague who had not returned. After participating in demonstrations and protests, he had not returned home. For long hours we were all, a great number of teachers attentive to what was happening. We went to the police stations, we went to the hospitals… Finally the colleague appeared and he was fine, but I want to say that this network of solidarity is necessary.

Things are difficult, they can get even more difficult. We cannot say for sure what is going to happen in this country as it is today and for the same reason we have to be very supportive among ourselves, very attentive to take care of ourselves, to protect ourselves, to be attentive, to know what is happening with the other. Each one in their school very, very attentive and very concerned about each one of their co-workers, their colleagues. Very attentive and very concerned also about their parents and their students.

We are the educational communities that are going to protect and take care of each other. I make that call: that we take care of each other.

Also for the social networks to be attentive. Don’t believe any news. Believe the news that is truthful, the news that has reliable sources, the news that has credible sources. Don’t believe whatever the powerful and the liars say, don’t believe anything that appears on social networks. And take care of each other!

Here today there is a misgovernment, there is a situation of a government that is absolutely incapable of governing at this moment.

Things can get more difficult and the union and solidarity between us, the comradeship between us, that which we had recently in our mobilizations, that of being attentive to what happened to the other, that today for me and tomorrow for you, that one hand washes the other and the two wash the face, are popular sayings that apply very well in this case. Unity, solidarity, affection, comradeship among us.

Let’s take care of each other! I make that call.

Tomorrow we have a board of directors meeting. We are going to be advising what we resolve there. We have to be attentive, next week is going to be complex. I think the government would have to suspend classes in the Metropolitan Region, certainly. I don’t understand why it hasn’t done it officially, but I hope they do. That’s what we’re going to call it as well. There are no conditions today for people to be transported or… There is no condition of normality in the country, but we are going to be advising what happens and what is resolved.

We are also talking to other unions, we are talking to other social organizations, we are very much onto it. Today we challenged the state of emergency by going as far as La Moneda itself, marching with a group of social leaders. It was also a sign of civil disobedience, of nonviolent civil disobedience. It is what corresponds, it is what we feel we have the right to do.

So I send you a message of calm but also this message that I reiterate: very connected between us teachers, very connected with our educational communities. Today there is a misgovernment, today there are absolutely incapable people who are running the country, we have to take care of each other.

I embrace you. We will be reporting what is happening.

Translated by Pressenza London