Dear Readers:

A couple of months have passed since my last communication and a great deal has taken place during that time. Believe me, I've been super busy and I have very exciting news! 

First of all, I rented a fabulous, brand new, commercial kitchen space from the wonderful Mission Housing Development Corporation, a non-profit housing organization.This means reasonable rent, a good lease, and a supportive property owner. The group that works at Mission Housing is dedicated to keeping small businesses in the community—in San Francisco, that's nothing short of a miracle. 

Second, I qualified for a loan form MEDA (Mission Economic Development Agency) to grow the catering part of Chile Lindo. Third, I passed ALL the inspections and got my permits. So 2020, bring it on.

There are specific people that I want to thank for everything that’s come my way. I will do just that in my next newsletter so that I can take my time doing so, and also, that’s when I’ll go into detail about where I'm headed with Chile Lindo next. In a nutshell, what’s in the works down the line is expanding the menu and offering catering services.

However, today I am reaching out for a very specific reason. It has to do with what is going on in Chile. Since the “estallido social” that erupted on October 18th, I’ve not stopped following the news with a heavy heart. The situation is very serious, dramatic in fact, and violent confrontations between protesters and the police are putting in question Chile’s democracy due to human rights abuses.

Roser Fort, whom I met on one of my visits to Chile, is the director of Cine Arte Alameda. She just lost her cultural center after it caught on fire when a tear gas bomb landed on its roof. The news moved me to take action and start a GoFundMe campaign for her. If you can, please make a donation and/or share this information far and wide. My goal is to provide her with a financial boost as soon as possible, as an overwhelming task lies before her.

I am sincerely grateful for your time and support. Following is the link and text to the GoFundMe campaign.

Dearest readers, may the New Year bring you many blessings!

Muchísimas gracias,
Paula Tejeda
Chile Lindo

GoFundMe Campaign
for Roser Fort
Centro Arte Alameda
Santiago, Chile

On Friday, October 18th, 2019, the "estallido social" (social upheaval) set off nationwide protests in Chile. The uprising was sparked by a 30 pesos hike of the Metro fare, but the popular claim is that "it's not 30 pesos, but rather, it's 30 years of undignified living standards for everyone but the elite." The chants are "#chiledespertó" (Chile has awaken) and "#dignidad," or "hasta que la dignidad se haga costumbre" (until dignity becomes commonplace). 

The issues are all-too-familiar in the United States: government corruption, inequality and the 1%, inadequate social health care, and a privatized pension system. Over the past 10 weeks the protests continue to gain momentum in spite of violent clashes with the national police force, "Carabineros de Chile.' 

Last Friday, December 27th, the Centro Arte Alameda was burned to the ground. The origin of the fire is still under investigation but evidence points to tear gas bombs that landed on the building's rooftop.

For the past 28 years, the Centro Arte Alameda has been a bastion of Chilean artistic expression in Santiago. Its founder and executive director, Roser Fort, established an exceptional cultural space in the inner city, for alternative and emerging artists. The Centro Arte Alameda is (I don't want to say "was") a portal for artistic expression to a range that stretches from Punk Rock bands, to up-and-coming filmmakers, to LGBT community programing. Lest we forget that Chilean mainstream society is traditionally very Catholic, socially conservative, and it gravitates towards "Made in USA" pop culture and Hollywood films. Thus, the notable significance of this iconic stronghold for the exploration of experimental and transformational creativity.

Over the years, the theatre in Centro Arte Alameda has screened a host of movies that span from blockbusters like "Joker" to Surrealist films like Buñuel's "Un Chien Andalou." Most important, however, is the roster of national films shown. Chilean filmmakers that often make the international film festival circuits get limited distribution in their own country. At Centro Arte Alameda their films were showcased and often premiered. 

Countless filmmakers got their start at Centro Arte Alameda and the loss of this cultural space has infuriated the intellectual and artistic community in Chile. Sebastián Lelio, 2017 Oscar winner for "A Fantastic Woman," had harsh words for President Sebastián Piñera's government. He tweeted: "Dignity is demanded and the government burns a cinema.”

Only a few weeks ago CNN_Chile interviewed Roser Fort on account of that the center played an imperative role during these tumultuous times by opening its doors to give aid to victims of police brutality. The center is located in "ground zero," where the protestors and a heavily militarized police force clash regularly. In sixty-nine days of confrontations over 3,500 people have received emergency medical attention at Centro Arte Alameda. In fact, it became the headquarters for health care professionals from the government health agency SAMU (Servicio de Atención Médica de Urgencia) and from the Medical Brigades of the Federation of Chilean Students from the Medical School of the University of Chile that volunteered to treat the wounded. 

Centro Arte Alameda is already an institution in Santiago, Chile, and it will rise like a phoenix from the ashes and soar. I sincerely thank you for supporting me in this gesture, in the hope that it will make a small difference at a time of great distress and profound sadness for those who understand that the arts and culture have measurable impact on our society.  

"Culture is not the enemy"--Roser Fort
Following (in Spanish), statements by Roser Fort, René Naranjo, Javiera Parra, and the Minister of Culture, Consuelo Valdés.