Home Institution

Colby College

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


After the transition to democracy, Chileans have become increasingly frustrated with the centralization of the government. Local movements find it difficult to have a voice in the political process while the desires of the central government routinely trump the concerns of the people. Chiloé, an island in the south has experienced decades of Santiago-guided development. The salmon industry arrived in the 70s and now the government is building a bridge to connect the island with the mainland, without consulting the people. Many would prefer the money be spent on concerns more pressing to the people living their, like a hospital. In May 2016 the island and surrounding communities erupted into protest over the government's management of a large red tide bloom and the lack of support for local fishermen. Without a credible way to pursue their grievances the fishermen took to the streets. This study aims to investigate how social movements like this function in a such a centralized system and to answer the question: can the Chilote social movements change policy in Santiago or are they powerless? This study uses observations of the protests, secondary sources, and two interviews with social movement members to answer the central question. By examining the tactics and strategies of the social movement the study shows the lengths the movements have to go to to receive attention from Santiago. The social movement did change the central government policy, but has not changed the model of development.


Civic and Community Engagement | Inequality and Stratification | Latin American Studies | Political Science | Politics and Social Change


Article Location