- PhMuseum 2021 Photography Grant
They are marking us
Dates2019 - Ongoing
460 people have been seriously injured in their eyes, 34 of whom suffered total loss due to the indiscriminate use of pellets and tear gas bombs by the Carabineros de Chile special forces. The Carabineros fired their rubber bullets and tear gas guns directly into the faces of the protesters during the Chilean social outbreak between late 2019 and early 2020. This figure has made Chile the country with the world record for eye mutilation by state and security forces.
The Chilean rebellion began on October 18th, 2019. The trigger was a 4.1% increase in the subway fare ($30 CLP = $0.039 USD). This provoked massive evasions from the subway, at first by high school students, but later generalized and spread throughout the country. This discontent led to one of the largest social uprisings in recent decades: on October 25th, the most massive protest on record since the end of the Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship took place, after than more than a million people took to the streets to demand social changes.
The demands are diverse and are still active: change in the pension system, increase of the minimum wage, better public health, a new Constitution and the resignation of President Sebastián Piñera. In response to the protests, the president declared a State of Emergency during the first days of the rebellion, which led to the suspension of basic freedoms, including free movement. Curfews were imposed for the first time since the dictatorship and the strong police repression on the protestors has been historical.
By early March 2020, around 3,838 people had been injured and according to the Chilean Society of Ophthalmologists and human rights organizations, 460 of them ended up with serious eye complications, loss of the eyeball, and also loss of sight. This figure has made Chile a world record for eye mutilation, due to the indiscriminate use of pellets and tear gas bombs by special forces of the Carabineros, who have shot their weapons directly into the faces of the protesters.