Taking Back the Streets: Women, Youth, and Direct Democracy

By Temma Kaplan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Democracy in the Country
and in the Streets

Confident and vivacious as an actress accustomed to moving on a public stage, Teresa Valdés invites solidarity, automatically assuming shared views about democracy and justice. As part of Mujeres por la Vida (Women for Life), a group of seventeen women who coordinated some of the major women's; groups opposing the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in the 1980s, Teresa Valdés showed a flair for the dramatic and a willingness to appear ridiculous. Although drawn from the center and leftist political parties, which constituted the opposition to the dictatorship, Women for Life was committed to social change broadly conceived. Claiming equity before the law, in the economy, in the political arena, in medical treatment, and in the home, Mujeres, like so many other groups of women before them, made a plea for equality on the basis of difference. 1 But they also showed an audacity and a willingness to act outlandishly that points to the way street demonstrations can alter public perceptions and develop strategies to undermine even the most repressive dictatorships.

She breezed into my office in New York in 1986, carrying arpilleras, burlap tapestries that mothers, sisters, and wives of those who had disappeared in Chile made to bear witness to what Chileans were suffering. 2 Appliquéd testimonials, the arpilleras showed people being kidnapped and tortured, women mixing huge vats of soup in communal kitchens, the police teargassing crowds, and gravesites with “N. N. ”, for no name, on the tombstones. 3 Like so many liberal Chileans traveling

-73-

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Taking Back the Streets: Women, Youth, and Direct Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Prologue - Tacking Back the Streets 1
  • Chapter 1 - Staying Alive Through Struggle 15
  • Chapter 2 - Pots and Pans Will Break My Bones 40
  • Chapter 3 - Democracy in the Country and in the Streets 73
  • Chapter 4 - Searching and Remembering 102
  • Chapter 5 - Memory Through Mobilization 128
  • Chapter 6 - Youth Finds a Way 152
  • Chapter 7 - Demonstrating to Remember in Spain 176
  • Epilogue - Mobilizing for Democracy 203
  • Notes 211
  • Index 263
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