It’s the new face of revolution — a 23-year-old female rebel armed with nothing but her silver nose ring.
Camila Vallejo is a student leader from Chile who has led her peers in a nationwide fight for educational reform. She is notably the SECOND female leader to be elected within the University of Chile’s student union. And she’s also an active member of the Chilean Communist party.
“There are huge levels of discontent,” exclaimed Vallejo. “It is always the youth that make the first move … we don’t have family commitments, this allows us to be freer. We took the first step, but we are no longer alone, the older generations are now joining this fight.”
With her charismatic speeches and commanding orders, Vallejo has proven that a student (and a female at that!) can create waves in a nation. Since she rose to the spotlight, students and public workers nationwide have protested, a government official has been fired, and the government itself has been announcing amendments to the constitution.
Interesting enough, her reach exceeds far beyond Chile. With a growing Youtube following, even the Bolivian vice-president, Álvaro García Linera is enamored. He says in an interview, “We are all in love with her.” In fact, Garcia-Linera encourages Bolivian student youth leaders to follow suit, “You need to talk about what is happening in Argentina, Brazil or Chile, where there is a young and beautiful leader, who is leading the youth in a grand uprising.
While beautiful is not often a term associated to a rebel leader, it is something that very much describes Vallejo. She addresses the topic with nonchalance, “You have to recognise that beauty can be a hook. It can be a compliment, they come to listen to me because of my appearance, but then I explain the ideas. A movement as historical as this cannot be summarised in such superficial terms.”
With the depth of her ideas and strength of her convictions, Vallejo is indeed the face of our future leader. She concludes, “We do not want to improve the actual system; we want a profound change – to stop seeing education as a consumer good, to see education as a right where the state provides a guarantee.
Note from the editor: With a correction from reader Luis Gloria, we want to acknowledge that while Camila’s influence is felt throughout Chile, there are other important forces at work as well.
“80 Labor unions throughout Chile that shut down a city and have been organising the historical 2 day shutdown since May. The Chilean protest movement led by The Workers United Center of Chile (CUT) over the span of many years has created substantial change in economic, educational and social policy reform and may lead the way for historical constitutional reforms. August 24-25 2011 was a historical event as it marks the first 2 day labor union strike in Chile’s history. Over 80 Unions within CUT organised the 2 day shut down of the city of Santiago, Chile.
Revolutionary protests and strikes organised by CUT and ANEF: Labor Union Protests Lead to a Better Chile. The labor unions in Chile have fought for policy reform, constitutional, educational, and labor reform for many years
to change the political and economic system so there is an equal redistribution of wealth and power. The current neoliberal development model has only served to entitle a few grossly wealthy.
According to CUT, at least 600,000 people participated in the historical two-day labor strike that took place in Chile on August 24 and 25 2011. The 2 day strike led by Chile’s most powerful unions launched the nationwide strike on August 24th. Chile’s largest labor confederation, the Central Workers Union (CUT), organized and planned for demonstrations, marches and protests with the support of politicians, citizens and more than 80 of Chile’s most important social organizations and unions. With powerful unions like the National Association of Public Employees (ANEF) and unionized miners at the state-owned Codelco copper company vowing to participate, Finance Minister Felipe Larraín predicted that the strikes cost the nation upwards of US$200 million. While previous governments have faced one-day national strikes, it was the first 48-hour national strike since the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.”