Back to my roots: Chile!

After a long hiatus, I am finally going back to Chile this fall. I bought my ticket last night.
Gracias a la vida! It’s finally time.

For over 15 years I have dedicated my life to organising in rural Ontario, Mexico and Guatemala. I was supposed to do all my PhD work on Chile but it never came to be with all that I saw I needed to do here. How could I walk away from the connections I built among migrant workers? I decided to stay and continue working with the migrant community. I lived with many families back in Mexico, on and off, and lived a transnational life of my own with deep ties to all of mesoamerica.

Now, I need to reconnect with my roots and strengthen my spirit.

I do not believe in blinding nationalism, but I do believe our roots are important.
For some reason, my soul took the elevator down through Chile to be here in this world.

I acknowledge the mountains, the ocean and its breeze that were my first sights and breaths. I recognise how Chile radicalised me with the dreams and pains of an aborted revolution in the early 1970s.

I will be part of the march on September 11th on the streets of Santiago, honouring all those who were killed, disappeared and exiled.

I am part of that in-between generation, struggling to find roots and belonging after being uprooted through imperialism and fascism that moulded much of the world in the 70s and 80s. The 80s is the lost decade for the Global South. The 70s foresaw the implementation of neoliberalism with Chile being the first country to be used as  a laboratory experiment for this late stage of unfettered capital accumulation. I wrote over 100 pages of a Masters Thesis about the contradictions of the free-market triumphalism in the Chile. The free-market model could not have been possible without violence, displacement, horrible human rights violations and environmental destruction.

Living in Canada, not feeling like I belong,  I have held onto many questions and longings within me due to forced migration that have fueled my scholarship and community organising. I transmuted my pain to create anew, to strengthen community and to build movements.

I am transnational, of many pueblos, but my blood and heart are from this place called Chile. I will wear my beloved huipiles from Mexico and Guatemala because this is who I am.  Because mesoamerican pueblos and lands have imprinted my body and spirit.

There is much that is unsettled within me right now at this stage of my life that I have to make sense of by the Andes.

In the winter, I will take off to teach in 4 continents and I need Chile to send me off in wholeness and power.

(Love this song by Mamma Soul-awesome Chilean women’s group, that expresses many of my sentiments of  returning “hacia mi origen”)

Voy hacia mi origen
Nadie me espera alla
Una semana mas
Y no hay nada ni nadie
Si no tu mismo en esto.
Y no hay nada ni nadie
Si no tu mismo en esto

Estemos preparados, quedémonos desnudos
Pero quememos, no pudramos, lo que fuimos
Ardamos, respiremos, en medio a lo absurdo
Despertemos a la gran realidad de estar naciendo ahora y ala ultima hora


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