Peñalolén, Chile: 2nd Statement of the Movement of Homeless Workers in Struggle (MAL)
We are part of those 18,000 families who exist in Peñalolén. We live in cramped conditions with our families, or rent shacks on a precarious basis, suffering the humiliation of not having a place we can call our own. Today the value of the lands is so high that we are forced to abandon Peñalolén if we want our own house.
Santiago, Monday 15th March 2006
2nd Public Statement of the Movement of Homeless Workers in Struggle (MAL)
In light of the events of the past few days, when organized residents occupied some lands near the Esperanza Andina settlement in Peñalolén, and in order to clarify and to deny comments in the mainstream press regarding those events, the Movimiento de Allegados en Lucha
(Movement of Homeless Workers in Struggle) declares:
- We are part of those 18,000 families who exist in Peñalolén. We live in cramped conditions with our families, or rent shacks on a precarious basis, suffering the humiliation of not having a place we can call our own. Today the value of the lands is so high that we are forced to abandon Peñalolén if we want our own house. While we watch luxury houses and big parks being built for the rich, we are forced to migrate to the outskirts, to places where there is no employment, no basic services such as hospitals, schools, etc.
- We are organized in several committees of allegados*. Over the last 2 years or so, we have taken all the legal steps to seek a solution to our housing problem through government programmes; we are registered with the SERVIU (Chilean Housing Agency) and we have our savings books. We have been to umpteen meetings with various authorities, including the Mayor of Peñalolén, Claudio Orrego, the director of the SERVIU, Ricardo Trincado, and the Minister for Housing, Sonia Tschorne, each time receiving only promises, lies and deceit. We have verbal and written commitments from them, none of which have been kept. But not only have the authorities not helped us or looked for a real solution to our housing problem, they have actually developed a destructive policy of attacking us, attempting to de-legitimize and weaken our organization.
- Nobody occupies land for pure pleasure or on a whim, but the situation of many of us has already become desperate. Having exhausted all legal roads only to be met with the indifference with which we have been treated, we decided to take this action as a last measure in the search for a definitive solution to our main demand: decent housing in Peñalolén.
- It is ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE that we had at any time the intention of occupying houses destined for former occupants of the area of land known as the Toma de Peñalolén, as has repeatedly been stated in the media, and by the Home Minister, Andres Zaldívar, and the Metropolitan Governor, Victor Barrueto. This is a cruel, unacceptable and ill-intentioned lie that only seeks to generate confrontation and division among the homeless workers. We declare our deepest rejection of what we consider a set-up and a concerted manoeuvre between the Government, the Municipality, and the Chilean Carabineros together with some elements of the press. We call on public opinion not to believe this lie, and we call on the residents to think hard about who is lying and who is telling the truth. Our organization will always practice solidarity between the poor and the defence of the human right to a decent home.
- WE ARE NOT A VIOLENT ORGANIZATION, and we neither practice nor legitimize violence - we simply want a home. That we organize ourselves and are willing to fight for what we consider right, cannot be an excuse to accuse us of being violent or extremist. On the other hand, the government's attitude, and that of the Carabineros, certainly can be described as being of the most extreme violence. With a great display of police and military force, including helicopters, armoured cars, water cannon and hundreds of Special Forces troops, they proceeded to lay siege to and attack a whole population for more than three days (something which sadly reminds us of the worst moments of the military dictatorship). Without any attempt at dialogue and without any warning, without thought for the presence of children, pregnant women and the sick, the Carabineros bombarded the population of Esperanza Andina with tear gas, levelled houses and arrested residents arbitrarily.
- Lastly, we wish to respond to the declarations of the new government, led by President Michelle Bachelet, reiterating that it is open to dialogue with citizens and that no Chilean will be deprived of his or her basic needs. What dialogue are they speaking about, if no authority has presented itself to us or manifested the slightest intention of approaching us? What concern for the poor are they speaking about, if the only answer has been repression and police violence, mixed with lies and press set-ups? What do people have to do in order to be heard by these governments that are so "sensitive" to the problems and the requests of citizens? What can we look forward to in these next four years, if already in the first days of government, Bachelet is demonstrating her insensitivity to the drama of life in the real Chile, and prefers smiling for the cameras, singing and dancing for show while people whose votes were so valuable in the campaign are surrounded and forced to breathe poisonous gases, for their insistence in getting a simple piece of land where they can live, work and dream of a better life?
Despite every obstacle, and far from being discouraged by this repression that we have been subjected to, we will push ahead with our decision to struggle for what we deserve as any human being: a decent home for our families. We know that, contrary to what the authorities are saying through their threats, only if the poor struggle can they win their objectives, and this is amply demonstrated by the very history of our municipality: the inhabitants of Esperanza Andina, and also those who will soon be moving from the Toma de Peñalolén
to their new homes, have always had to organize themselves, to fuse their anger and decision, the fear of losing out to the repression, and take the land for themselves. It is not true that those who struggle get nothing!
We invite all those who feel our cause is fair to show their solidarity with our struggle. For us, those who have suffered so much humiliation and who have so much need, our dignity is the only thing that we really own, it is our best weapon and it is something we will never lose, something that motivates us to continue along this road with hope in our hearts, to achieve our dream of our own homes...
NO GOING BACK FROM THE STRUGGLE FOR A DECENT LIFE AND A DECENT HOME!
MOVIMIENTO DE ALLEGADOS EN LUCHA
NO MORE ALLEGADOS!
Translation by Anarkismo.net
* Allegados is a word used to describe people who are forced to share a home with other families, usually relatives.