Semana Roja

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Semana Roja

Semana Roja, a riot which swept Santiago, Chile, from 22 to 25 October 1905. Upset by the high price of food, a mass of about 20,000 to 30,000 of Santiago's poorer urban residents, including women and children, demonstrated to demand that the government rescind an import tax on Argentine meat. Some of the protestors, who had initially behaved peacefully, became unruly. When various demonstrators began to loot, the local authorities overreacted by opening fire and charging the crowds. It soon became clear that the police could not calm the situation. With the army away on maneuvers, Santiago's officials created a "white guard," consisting of members of the upper class and some of the foreign community, who brutally repressed the demonstrators until the army could return and restore order. Death toll estimates reached 250. Although this riot should have forced the upper class to recognize that it had to address the needs of the lower classes, the elites instead tended to blame the demonstration on foreigners, anarchists, and unspecified troublemakers. Conversely, the riot galvanized the working class and encouraged the formation of unions.

See alsoPeru: Peru Since Independence .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

De Shazo, Peter. Urban Workers and Labor Unions in Chile 1902–1927 (1983), pp. 124-126.

Garcés, Mario. Crisis social y motines populares en el 1900. 2nd Edition. Santiago: LOM Ediciones, 2003.

Izquierdo, Gonzalo. "Octubre de 1905: Un episodio en la historia chilena," in Historia 13 (1976): 55-96.

Ortiz Letalier, Fernando. El movimiento obrero en Chile, 1891–1919. Santiago: LOM Ediciones, 2005.

                                        William F. Sater