Chile

Militarism is much more than military institutions or people in uniform. The military sphere has to do with the lifestyles that people adopt, their way of seeing the world, of understanding social relationships or how effective a society can be.

Chile

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Updated August 2017; researcher Victoria E. Giraldo Issues

Military service exists

Each month, we feature a different WRI affiliate. This month it is the Chilean antimilitarist group Ni Casco Ni Uniforme (Neither Helmet nor Uniform - NCNU), who are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the libertarian antimilitarist group Ni Casco Ni Uniforme (Neither Helmet nor Uniform - NCNU). NCNU emerged as the NCNU Conscientious Objection Group, originating in Santiago de Chile in the context of democratic transition. Compulsory military service existed then and now in Chile. There was (and is still not) any law protecting conscientious objection to counterbalance this.

Militarism is guns, armored tanks and drones, but it’s also a state of mind. Militarised mentalities have permeated many police forces and amplified dramatically the force of police violence against our communities.

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Rafael Uzcategui is a Venezuelan conscientious objector, author, and human rights activist who has been active with War Resisters' International, and in antimilitarism more generally, for many years. Here, he summarises the main tendencies of the Latin American conscientious objection movement, and details how his own nonviolent anarchist position fits into this picture.

During the eighties, many Latin American countries were living under military dictatorships or suffering the consequences of civil war. These were also the days of the Cold War, during which the US considered Latin America one of its 'zones of influence': almost like a back garden. The traumatic and progressive democratisation process meant that broad swathes of the continent's youth developed an antimilitarist sentiment, which began to take on an organised and political dimension. As an adolescent at the beginning of the nineties in Barquisimeto, a town 5 hours away from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, my peers and I had to hide ourselves twice a year for fifteen days, to avoid compulsory military service. Otherwise they would seize us on the streets and, without wasting words, force us into a truck, with others just as terrified, and from there take us to the barracks. For many of us, these forced recruitment raids or 'press gangs' were the starting point for our rejection of authority and of the military uniform.

Cesar Padilla, Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America, OCMAL

It is not news to say that extractivism in Latin America has been imposing an increasingly deeper model of extraction and export. The competition to be a destination of mining, oil-reserves, forestry or fishing investment is a characteristic of the majority of the countries in the region.

However, extractavism is receiving increasing criticism from broad sections of society including academia and social movements.

When examining militarisation and young people in this country, we must necessarily look back and take into account the hundreds of years of militarism in the area's history: land occupations and violence by European colonists, construction of the 'national heroes' to motivate patriotism, legislation of obligatory military training, exponential military spending versus the social spending diet, introduction of of military training in civilian schools, and mutation of the armed forces according to the dominant economic model.

By Dan Contreras

The root of the problem

In order to understand the educational movement we’ve seen grow over these past few years – becoming most radical in the last six months – we must go back to the genesis of the problem: the strict cost/quality relation brought about by the privatization of Chilean education in the aftermath of the 1973 coup d’état. In short, this means that in today’s Chile, the more you pay, the higher the standard of education you will receive.  The violent and anti-democratic takeover that put this system in place, traded in an economic model that allowed for strong state intervention in educational accountability and investment, for one which minimized government decision-making and encouraged privatization of state universities and growth of private educational institutions. 

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Police militarisation country profiles