April 29, 2021

‘Why Do These Eyes Cry Red Tears?’

Valentina Montoya Martínez

Pastel Drawing/PhotographRed Tears., 201933.75 x 60 cms

I am from Chile. I am a daughter of exile living in Scotland. Before the pandemic, an uprising against social injustice took place in my place of birth. This is how I saw events develop. The Alameda (central avenue in Santiago) was cordoned off, a curfew was imposed, tear gas floated in the air, and water cannons filled the streets. People were shot, young people killed. And a cold fear ran through me, as it did in my childhood. ‘Order and fatherland, is our motto, Carabinieri of the nation … we go without fear, after the bandit, we are the protector of the weak …’ the anthem of the Carabineros de Chile blared out, while police forces carried out illegal, arbitrary arrests as in times past. This time they incorporated a new tactic to their list of repressive methods: they shot rubber bullets directly into the eyes, a perversity worthy of the cruellest of mafias, leaving their stamp of power forever marked on the Chilean face. Disfigurement and blindness, was the price of freedom. There are protests in the UK too. And there is a strong police response. It seems farfetched, but what happened in Chile could happen here too.