In a strange juxtaposition I will never really understand, my job of late has consisted of two main communication points: Covering the protests that clog the city (MatadorNetwork), and writing happy-go-lucky blogposts promoting Chile as a tourist destination (NileGuide).
And by the same token, in recent days, I’ve been in the news twice, once as a “haha, look how cute, Gringas blogging about Chile again (la tercera), and another to say, “despite US embassy warnings about staying in Santiago, the expats are unfazed.”
And we are mostly unfazed. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important (I do), or historic (it is), I just have to believe that Chile wants to remain stable every bit as much as I want it to. Education protests are rooted in an inequality that also is arguably good for tourism. On the one hand, there are high-quality goods and first-rate services here. On the other hand, you can afford to get a shoeshine, take a taxi or eat a hotdog on the street for poca plata (a low price, literally: little money). I am guilty of enjoying both elements of this, both being able to buy shmancy cheeses and sundried tomatoes, and yet being able to get a copy of a key made on the street for practically no money.
I support the idea behind the protests, and I am tremendously proud of the kids (and adults) who take time out of their day to walk the streets, make creative protest signs and busses and even giant heads, and bang on pots and pans and run laps around the Moneda and everything else they do. I unabashedly tell everyone that Chile is a great place to visit, not in spite of these activities, but perhaps even because of them. I’m happy to live in a place where when people see something they say something.*
*if you see something, say something is the slogan in the NYC public transit re: suspicious activity.