The Radical Walls of Santiago

March 20, 2023 In Chile, murals tell the story of the country's political journey. 24 photos
This is Part of the "Chile’s Utopia Has Been Postponed" Dig series
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    For decades now, Chilean politics and social protest have taken not only to the streets but also to the walls of its major cities. The capital of Santiago continues today as a living museum of political murals and wall art. It blossomed in the early 1970s during the socialist administration of President Salvador Allende. The political parties that made up the ruling coalition formed youth “brigades” specialized in putting up sophisticated murals overnight. The wall painting continued during the 17 years of the Pinochet dictatorship and continued over the last 30 years of civilian government. But it was the so-called “social explosion” of 2019 that mightily revived the mural scene in Santiago. And it has kept going strong since the election in December 2021 of President Gabriel Boric, the first leftist president since Allende was overthrown in 1973. 

  • This mural inside a popular café depicts the martyred musician Victor Jara (left) killed by the military in 1973, and Jorge Gonzalez, lead singer of Los Prisioneros, the top rock protest band during the dictatorship. Gonzalez was debilitated several years ago by a stroke.

  • “If money did not exist we would all be rich.”

  • A classic rendering, by the Ramona Parra Brigade, of the Communist Youth celebrating the social ownership of Chile’s copper mines.

  • Another Ramona Parra mural calling for free education.

  • “Hunger and struggle equals dignity.”

  • “For a society free of bosses and exploitation.”

  • Celebrating the Day of Revolutionary Students.

  • “Giving new life.”

  • “Villa Francia: 52 years of struggle and resistance.”

  • “Freedom for Ramiro.”

  • Celebrating the founding of the La Victoria township 1957.

  • The media as Pinocchio.

  • Remembering Allende and his UP government.

  • 50 years of the Ramona Parra Brigade. Note the La Moneda palace being bombed in the background.

  • Luisa is a legendary figure in the poor enclaves of Santiago. She lost several sons to police shootings.

  • Homage to the armed youth who fought Pinochet.

  • “Killed by cops.”

  • “Never forget nor forgive.”

  • Communist Party of Chile in its neighborhood stronghold of La Victoria.

  • “Killed by bastard cops.”

  • The Mapocho River runs through Santiago where bodies were found floating after the 1973 coup. This mural celebrates fallen indigenous resistance fighters.

  • “Another world is possible” – HQ of the EPES Foundation

  • “They want us blind”:  Denouncing the eye injuries suffered by more than 200 protesters in 2019 after police aimed pellets at their eyes.