SANTIAGO – American singer and poet Patti Smith said on Sunday that it’s the ordinary people who change the world, while also sending a message to protesters who have been demanding better basic services for a month on the streets of Chile.
“I am with you,” she said.
Smith, who on Monday will put on a concert at a theater in Santiago as part of an international tour, said she was “very touched by people in Chile” and acknowledged the “bad times” happening across the world.
“The one beauty about terrible times is that it wakes people up and hopefully inspires them to unify,” said the 73-year-old singer, who is considered one of the world’s most influential rock music artists.
“When I see that the people are motivated and standing up for their rights and taking the streets, I think it is very important to show solidarity,” she added.
For a month, Chile has been experiencing its most serious crisis since the return of democracy in 1990, with massive protests and bloody clashes between protesters and security forces claiming the lives of at least 23 people – five allegedly at the hands of state agents – and wounding thousands of people.
The demonstrations began in response to a rise in the prices subway tickets and later turned into a public outcry against the country’s unequal economic model, repression and the government, which enforced a state of emergency and curfew during the first days.
At the beginning of the crisis, the artist wrote a poem on her Instagram account dedicated to Chile, a country she is visiting for the first time.
“My message was just to simply say (to the protesters): I am with you, I am thinking about you,” she said Sunday during a press conference in which she also spoke about the importance of protecting the environment and fighting together against injustice.
“We have to support one another, we have to support our youth and we have to keep our revolutionary hearts beating,” added the singer of the legendary songs “Because The Night” and “People Have The Power.”
The unrest in Chile shows no signs of easing, despite the historic agreement announced this week by the country’s parliamentary forces to draft a new constitution and bury the current one, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and considered by many the origin of the country’s great inequalities, as it favored the privatization of basic services such as education and health.