Indigenous Support for Student Movement… and Indpendence

22 Aug

I don’t like Chile,” Ariki told me, “sure the streets are clean, it looks rich, but only 10% of the country is rich. The other 90%, they are poor.”

Technically Ariki himself is Chilean, and one of the 90%. He is from Isla de Pascua, Easter Island in the English language, Rapa Nui in his.

Ariki had been traveling the world, but returned to Chile days earlier. He had heard of the student movement and wanted to show his support, and to demonstrate for the cause of his people, who seek independence from Chile.

I met Ariki in Parque Forestal, a thin park that stretches the length of downtown. He had a Roma football scarf wrapped around his head. His companion was a huge quiltro, he called “Cabro Chico,” or Little Boy.

He introduced himself to me and proposed an intercambio, wanting to share his story, the story of his people, and the story of Chile with me – a foreigner. He also wanted to tell me about the movement in Chile, what it stands for and against.

“It is part of a global problem,” Ariki said. “In some places – like here – it is more forceful, in others it is more subtle, but it is a global problem.”

“But there is a movement against it,” he said. “I’ve seen it in Spain, I’ve seen it in France.

“And now it’s time for Latin America to wake up.”

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