As you can see in the photo in this report in El Mercurio, “Impressive Partying,” Chile has its share of angry university students. The vast majority of Chileans follow a herd mentality and do not like to be “different” than other Chileans. But there are some Chileans who want to manifest the fact that they are indeed different. They are not always politically or racial motivated. They are not necessarily poor. In this case, they were just a bunch of half-drunk, discontented kids having a party in a park. What better thing to do on a fine fall day in early April?
The incident occurred in Parque O’Higgins, west of downtown. The angry students threw bottles at cops and destroyed a guard shack. The cops responded with water cannon shots and the incident came to an end. The students had been drinking and partying in the long park, which stretches from downtown westward in between the two sides of the main drag Alameda.
The “power of the masses” can be seen in these young punks which in recent years were known to form “urban tribes” (“tribus urbanas“). Each tribe usually represented a certain, identified social group. The names of these tribes can be seen on this list. While most of these groups are not usually violent, they can become violent, especially when provoked by the police. The trend has been to have fewer young people participating in such urban tribes.
Events like this are, of course, almost an everyday occurrence in major American cities. Gang activity, drug trafficker turf wars, drive-by shootings, group robberies are not uncommon in the USA, and many incidents go unreported by the major media. Even though such events occur far less frequently in Chile, which only has 1/18th the population of the USA and only three major cities, one can see that there are a fair number discontented youths and radicals in the country. Like the looters in Concepción after the great earthquake, these people have little respect for private property and less respect for the police. They manifest the fact that Chile has some significant pent-up belligerence in its population.
In terms of everyday life, these punks rarely bother common citizens. They prefer to demonstrate their solidarity and anger in groups, and to vent their rage toward authority and the police. At least they give the carabineros something to do every now and then!