Chile

In Chile in October 2019, a historic social uprising took place, unexpectedly for the vast majority. More and more people were joining the protests every day. The current government, tried to soften and ease the diffuse protests that occurred almost every day. Those attempts were so clumsy from a strategic and political point of view that finally a state of emergency and curfew were enforced. This resulted in the presence of the military on the street, reminiscent of the dictatorship era. In March, as these events continued to unfold, the first Covid-19 cases appeared. As the number of cases went up and fear overcame the population, the government saw a great opportunity to move attention away from the protests and toward the health emergency.

The online newspaper Byline Times has challenged the UK's government over arms sales to Chile, after a Freedom of Information request found that 50% of the £164 million worth of arms licensed for sale since 2008 had been granted in the last year.

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 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.

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.

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