After watching President Piñera's televised state of the union address, Gracie and I opted for going down the hill to check things out. We had a tough choice when we reached Plaza Victoria at the bottom of our hill...protest or parade?
They were both taking place only a couple blocks in either direction. We glanced down the street at the thousands of folks at the protest and saw that the water canons were in full use - so we opted for the parade.
It was a full Armed Forces parade and we saw lots of bayonets and bands in marching formation. We thought the women carabineros (police officers) ill prepared for combat in heels, skirts and make-up, but it was unclear as to what potentially lethal item their hand bags (see photo) might have held. There was also a fun group of Cueca dancers all over the age of 70 bringing up the rear of the parade.
After watching the marching for awhile, Gracie and I made our way back towards the our house. In short order, we came upon the protesters again, which had moved much closer to the parade route, with police in riot gear surrounding the area. We spotted the above sign - which I'm not totally clear about the Capitan Planeta reference - but something about blowing your whistle on Piraña (the pejorative name for Pres. Piñera) and the CIA (reflecting the US/Nixon/Kissinger's legacy from its days of helping to overthrow Chile's socialist President Allende and installing the military dictator Pinochet in 1973). There's growing opposition to some of this administration's pro-business policies, foremost is a project to build a hydroelectric dam in Patagonia's wilderness.
We stepped over broken glass and listened at a safe distance and then continued home. Unfortunately, we did run into the residual effects of the tear gas (the Minister of the Interior explained that rather than taking two weeks they were able to study in 32 hours the matter of long-term health impacts and having found no evidence of such, reauthorized the use of tear gas for today).
Gracie and I scrambled away from the area coughing and with stinging/tearing eyes, but we made it home without further incident.
p.s. Theo didn't post this...really!