March of the Empty Pots

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March of the Empty Pots

The first march by this name took place in December 1971 in Santiago de Chile. The demonstration, headed mainly by middle- and upper-class women, was a protest against the economic and social policy of Salvador Allende's socialist administration (1970–1973). Restrictions on merchants, wage increases for workers, and strict price controls had created an acute shortage in the food market and high inflation. The demonstration, led by the Poder Femenino (Feminine Power) women's group, occurred during Fidel Castro's visit to Chile. Left-wing militants who supported the government attacked the women and the government declared a state of siege. The march was part of the political climate that preceded the 1973 military coup led by Augusto Pinochet.

Chilean women used this type of street protest (banging on empty pots to express the people's discontent with the government) again in 1983, this time to demonstrate against the Pinochet dictatorship. It was also used in other parts of Latin America. In Venezuela in 1990, urban sectors called for the resignation of President Carlos Andrés Pérez by banging on pots. In late 2001, numerous cacerolazos (pot-bangings) occurred in Argentina, led by the middle classes protesting against the policies of the Fernando de la Rúa administration. These protests intensified once the president, futilely, declared a state of siege, with the protestors joining the street demonstrations organized by the poorer, unemployed classes, and also getting involved in looting and disturbances partially organized by municipal and provincial authorities in opposition to the federal government. De la Rúa relinquished his position on December 20, 2001. Similar demonstrations took place in Uruguay in 2002, against President Jorge Batlle, and even in Spain in 2004, in repudiation of José María Aznar, for his ill-advised political reaction to the Madrid terrorist attack on March 11.

See alsoAllende Gossens, Salvador; Chile: The Twentieth Century; Chile, Political Parties: Popular Unity; Pinochet Ugarte, Augusto.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Lewkowicz, Ignacio. Sucesos argentinos: Notas ad hoc. Buenos Aires: Lewkowicz & Asociados, 2002.

Power, Margaret. Right-Wing Women in Chile. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.

Sigmund, Paul E. The Overthrow of Allende and the Politics of Chile, 1964–1976. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977.

Svampa, Maristella. Entre la ruta y el barrio: La experiencia de las organizaciones piqueteras. Buenos Aires: Biblos, 2003.

                                             Vicente Palermo