A wave of popular uprisings has swept over Latin America in the past few months. While “taking it to the streets” is not uncommon in the region, what seems unique to these recent uprisings is both their scope and intensity. In Chile, for example, what started as discontent over an increase in the price of public transport quickly turned into the largest protests in the country since the revolts against Pinochet’s dictatorship in the 1980s.
The ongoing Chilean protests quickly came to symbolize opposition against wider injustices related to steep and rising inequality, cost of living, and lack of economic opportunity. While these large-scale protests have no central leadership or single union, group or organization behind them, the country’s indigenous populations, namely the Mapuche, have played a particularly visible role in the uprisings. In the following piece, Patricia Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Politics at Ithaca College, draws on her research with Christian Martínez Neira and David Carruthers to give an insightful account of the role that indigenous movements and resistance play in these recent popular mobilizations and the territorial, political and cultural claims they articulate.