Occupy movement and “Chilean Winter” share similar goals

Occupy movement and


Since its recent entrance into the public consciousness, America’s Occupy Movement has become a household name, so to speak. It is an iconic symbol of the whole and the plight of the collective. But, is it truly pluralistic in regards to race, age and gender? Is this what makes the movement so appealing and, yet, so open to critique?

These questions are all well and good, but let’s look at this American movement within an international context.

In Chile, 23-year-old Camila Vallejo has started her own popular uprising. Its title? The Chilean Winter. Its slogan? “We are the 90%.”

Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?

In focusing on eliminating educational inequality resulting from entrenched social class disparity, Vallejo—vice president of the Student Federation of the University of Chile—has taken the world by storm. In fact, Vallejo, who identifies as a communist, was voted person of the year for the British newspaper “The Guardian,” garnering 78 percent of votes in a poll of readers.

Why is it that this relatively little-known public figure received this honor? Well, I have a few guesses. First of all, in addition to furthering her cause of educational equality in Chile, Vallejo has become the poster child for protestors’ rights, enforcing respect for the peaceful demonstrator and asserting her right to go against the grain of society.

Furthermore, it is more than notable that she is a young female. While they do exist, highly publicized female activists are rare. How many 23-year-old women have you heard of that have made such an immense international impact and gained deserved attention for it?

Finally, this issue of educational inequality has echoed around the globe.

“The student movement here (in Chile) is permanently connected to other student movements, principally in Latin America, but also in the world,” Vallejo says. “We believe this reveals something fundamental: that there is a global demand for the recovery and defense of the right to education.”

So, while the Chilean Winter may be vastly different from that of the Occupy Movement, there are similarities that cannot be ignored. After all, Occupy protestors, while striving to demand that the needs of the majority be met, have faced alarming opposition and aggression against their organized protest—much like the opposition which Vallejo continues to fight against in Chile.

The Occupy Movement also prides itself on exhibiting the principle of inclusion—and this certainly means young female activists, people who do not fit into the minuscule 1%.

And if there is one thing that unites these two movements and makes them one global initiative, it is the demand for educational equality and, by translation, equality among social classes.

You may have never known that the ideals of a 23-year-old female Chilean communist could resonate so close to home. You may have never realized that unification can result from unrest.

Well, maybe, just maybe, it can.