Photo: Camila Vallejo
In only 2 months, the 23 year-old leader of the student protests in Chile has received countless death threats while keeping Chile’s government in check.
Camila Vallejo Dowling has become the living nightmare of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. Her beauty, brains, eloquent speech and the clarity and sheer strength of her ideas and proposals have made her one of the main actors in Chile’s current political stage—the face of the Student Movement in Chile.
Her image is in the face of every newspaper, and seems to grow popular at the same rate President Piñera’s grows unpopular. Vallejo has an admirable capability to solidly state the needs, and demands of Chilean students with the same intransigent humility and powerful, charismatic logic before thousands at a march, inside the chambers of the education ministry, or as a guest on a talk show.
“We don’t want violence, our fight is not versus the police or to destroy commercial shops … our fight is to recover the right to education, on that we have been emphatic and clear,” said Vallejo in a speech outside La Moneda, Chile’s presidential palace.
Hundreds of students had been marching peacefully, banging pots and chanting to demand education as a right, and not as a purchasable good, and were met with teargas by police. As she spoke, Camila was surrounded by a peace sign made with empty teargas canisters thrown at students, and symbolically returned to La Moneda.
“Here we have more than 50m pesos’ worth of teargas bombs,” said Vallejo. “Imagine how much was used on the regional or the national level? This is unacceptable, we want to reiterate our demand that we made to the minister of the interior that he step aside.”
Not in a long time a Latin American rebel leader’s voice resonated with such power among the people. Earlier this month, the government ordered Police protection for her, after she begun receiving death threats from opposition groups, by phone and on the social networks.
Tatiana Acuña, a former official from the ministry of culture was fired after suggesting protesting in Chile would end if Camila was assassinated.
Youth groups close to the government of Piñera hacked into her personal files, and published private information, including her home address.
Nothing though, has thus far stopped Camila from writing her mind on her blog, being a constant presence on twitter and becoming the icon of the Chilean Student Revolution.
Camila is the daughter of Reinaldo Vallejo and Mariela Dowling, former members of the Chilean Communist Party in the 1970s.
Vallejo lived her childhood between the communes of Macul and La Florida, and she studied in Colegio Raimapu, a mixed-private school in La Florida. In 2006, Vallejo entered the University of Chile to study geography, but the current state of the Chilean education system has complicated the completion and evaluation of her thesis, which she will publish once education in Chile is a right, and not a luxury.