[News] “You Have to Listen to the Streets”: Rebel Diaz on Hip Hop and the Chilean Constitution

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sat Nov 7 14:59:17 EST 2020


https://orinocotribune.com/you-have-to-listen-to-the-streets-rebel-diaz-on-hip-hop-and-the-chilean-constitution-interview/


  “You Have to Listen to the Streets”: Rebel Diaz on Hip Hop and the
  Chilean Constitution (Interview)

By Mike Bond – Nov 5,  2020

In 2006, Chilean American brothers Rodrigo (RodStarz) and Gonzalo (G1) 
founded Venegas Rebel Diaz, a hip-hop duo from Chicago and the South 
Bronx. With a distinctly Chilean flair that contains elements from local 
and indigenous folk music, Rebel Diaz’s hip hop combines class struggle 
with international solidarity. Her texts lambaste capitalism and racism 
in the United States and imperialism and fascism in Latin America.

The duo’s songs have declared immigration rights for Spanish-speaking 
migrants during the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids, as 
well as their support for the Chicago teachers’ strike and Black Lives 
Matter. Through their music, the brothers have called for the liberation 
of Puerto Ricano, denounced New York’s stop-and-frisk policies, and 
supported anti-fascist and anti-racist movements.

Their art and politics are based on the radical humanism of Chilean folk 
singer Víctor Jara, the left folk music movement Nueva Canción Chilena 
(new Chilean song) and the status of her family as political refugees 
who fled the regime of Augusto Pinochet or from the regime of Augusto 
Pinochet were exiled in the 1970s.

I spoke to Rebel Diaz and discussed Chile’s mass uprisings to form a new 
constitution, the broader impact of the movement in Latin America, and 
how the years of rebellion are shaping the arts in the region.

– Jack Delaney

*Jack Delaney: The Chileans voted overwhelmingly – 78 percent of the 
voters! – a new constitution called for. For decades after the 
dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, the people have been demanding a 
constitution that puts power outside the hands of the elite. What does 
this victory mean for the working class and the poor Chileans?*

Rodrigo Venegas: It shows that the fight was heard on the streets across 
the country. Their demands for a dignified life lead to a vote that 
opens the doors to a new constitution. This is a start to opening up a 
space where people can have access to health care, education, pensions, 
and indigenous rights. It is a victory for the working class.

Gonzalo Venegas: The Pinochet Constitution stipulated that poor workers 
were available for the benefit of property and capital. Discarding it is 
a first step towards a constitution that puts people, not corporate 
interests and the neoliberal model at its center.

RELATED CONTENT: Time for the New Chilean Left 
<https://orinocotribune.com/time-for-the-new-chilean-left/>

*JD: We saw reports of state violence following the October 2019 
uprising. Hundreds of demonstrators were wounded, maimed and blinded 
while others were subjected to torture, sexual assault and rape. 
Thirty-six Chileans were murdered by state forces. Her artistic 
inspirations come from Víctor Jara, who was similarly tortured and 
murdered under the Pinochet regime for his politically charged music. 
How did artists like Jara and the Nueva Canción movement inspire the 
fight against state repression for a new constitution?*

Camper: When we were out there the soundtrack was on the streets Víctor 
Jara. On every corner we heard his song “El Derecho de Vivir en Paz” or 
“The Right to Live in Peace”. At the same time we have artists who 
differ from the Nueva Canción. Artists like Portavoz and Ana Tijoux were 
also the soundtracks to these fights. Groups like Inti-Illimani, who are 
members of Nueva Canción, carried out at the height of the uprisings In 
front of the people. They played the hymn “El Pueblo Unido” [The People 
United]. The culture of the Nueva Canción was brought back to the fore 
of the Chilean fighting by the uprisings.

There was a Video that went viral of a musician hiding behind a sign on 
the front. On a saxophone he played Victor Jara’s “El Derecho de Vivir 
en Paz”. It was inevitable to hear the music of the Nueva Canción in the 
streets.

*JD: What role do music and art currently play in the fight against 
neoliberalism and the movement to form a new constitution? Conversely, 
how does the movement shape art and music?*

GV: Our great inspiration alongside the Nueva Canción and its legacy is 
the hip hop movement that arose in Chile in the early 2000s. It was an 
explicitly organized political hip-hop movement. You can see this 
movement in 2006 Pinguinos Rebellion by boys and school children who 
protested the bus fare. Some of these children became the leaders of the 
2019 rebellion. This generation that cared about politicized hip-hop is 
a testament to the power of culture to educate, agitate and organize.

Camper: Not just the music, but also the art, the comedy, the joke that 
was brought to protest. People showed up in various costumes that mocked 
the political establishment and made fun of it. They made it available 
to the majority of people. Graffiti was also something that was 
impressive. In Santiago, the walls tell you what’s going on in the 
street. It’s the people’s newspapers. This creativity among the Chileans 
was just as important as the front.

GV: We have to mention the November 2019 hit that wasn’t on a record 
label. “Un Violador en Tu Camino” [“A Rapist in Your Path”]. The Chilean 
feminist women’s movement popularized the street performances of this 
song. It exploded in Chile and thousands of women performed it in 
Mexico, Europe and all of Latin America. It speaks to the role of sexism 
and misogyny as an integral part of capitalism, the neoliberal model and 
how women can resist it.

RELATED CONTENT: Chile: Now the Transition Begins 
<https://orinocotribune.com/chile-now-the-transition-begins/>

*JD: There is a lot of talk in the US about simply voting for change, 
which often leads to a continuation of the status quo. While the 
Chileans voted for change, the struggle was accompanied by a mass 
movement fighting in self-defense. How did militancy contribute to the 
victory for a new constitution?*

Camper: We wouldn’t have a new constitution if people didn’t resist on 
the streets. It’s as simple as that. We wouldn’t even be having this 
conversation now if young people didn’t decide to take to the streets 
and bravely stand against the militarized state repression. Here in the 
US, the parallel is that we would not have any talks about defusing the 
police or the Black Lives Matter unless the people of Minnesota, New 
York, Oakland and Louisville took to the streets.

The difference is that the people of Chile never left the streets. 
You’re probably protesting right now. The movement showed its 
dissatisfaction not only with those who wrote the constitution, but also 
with those who passively supported it. It was dissatisfaction with the 
entire political class, left and right. This will carry over to this new 
process where 78 percent of the people voted for a constituent convention.

*JD: What can the left learn from the movement in Chile? What made this 
victory successful?*

Camper: You have to listen to the street. Leading youth also reject the 
left and the right. Historically, we’ve seen Ferguson and Baltimore 
co-opt to vote for Hillary and now with Biden. We have seen people who 
legitimately opposed police killing in this country became elections. 
Biden’s first answer to the murder [Walter Wallace Jr.] was “Let’s keep 
the violence off the streets.” We’re getting the same messages from the 
people who should be channeling street political energy into voting for 
Democrats. What people can learn from fighting in Chile are the tactics 
the front line and the second lineand how to resist militarized 
occupation. What the people of Chile have shown is a political education 
class for the rest of the world.

GV: What we can learn from the movement in Chile that has forced the 
hands of business class is that the degree of unity is not just left 
versus right, but people versus capital. We need to make these 
connections that it’s not just Democrat versus Republican or Black 
versus White, but in a way that represents Chile, a struggle between 
people and capital.

*JD: What impact has the movement had on the government of Sebastián 
Piñera?*

Camper: This uprising has managed to make Piñera so ridiculous that in 
an election today the votes would not be so different [from the 
Constitutional referendum] to get him out of office. If things had got 
worse, capital would have been willing to sacrifice Piñera. What saved 
him was the November 15th Agreement. Without allowing a vote for a new 
constitution, Piñera would have been forced by the people to resign. 
This concession bought Piñera time. Without the pandemic, these protests 
would have continued in full. The pandemic has highlighted the 
shortcomings of the Piñera government in selecting profits over people. 
The protests had piñera on the ropes.

*JD: Her family fled as political refugees during the dictatorship and 
resisted the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria [La MIR, or the 
Revolutionary Left Movement]. What does it mean specifically to your 
family and to those who have previously been associated with 
organizations like La MIR that Chileans rewrote the Pinochet-era 
constitution?*

Camper: It was very inspiring for my parents and their generation to see 
the riots. For them, for everything the Pinochet dictatorship did to 
their lives, the election of his constitution was a symbolic death for 
the Pinochet era. The fact that it is 2020 and we still have a Pinochet 
constitution shows very clearly what impact the dictatorship had and 
still has on Chilean society. To see young people, children of their 
grandchildren’s generation, take to the streets and breathe a little 
more life into my parents.

GV: A characteristic of La MIR is that they have been critical 
supporters of [Salvador] Allende, you were not part of the Unidad 
People’s Coalition. For the elder MiristasIt is inspiring to see that it 
is organized autonomously and rejects the entire political class. The 
young people were not betrayed.



<https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/>

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