**This post was updated on December 3, 2009 to include some brilliant outbreaks in other governmental settings around the world. Be sure to check them out at the end!
August 18, 2009
I had planned to write about the rain today. It only rains in the winter here, and Chileans get very nostalgic about it. I’ve even learned to understand and come to share that sensation, but I’ll tell you why another day. The spectacle on tonight’s evening news was just too delicious to let pass.
Although Chileans like to call themselves the Swiss or the English of South America and think of themselves as dignified, refined, and cultured, there are a few areas where all that hot-blooded Latino spirit churns passionately to the surface, most particularly in matters of love, sports (fútbol / soccer), and politics.
Let’s set love and sports aside for the moment and get right down to politics. And no, I’m not talking about Pinochet and human rights… I’m talking about good old-fashioned, hot-headed pushing and shoving, name-calling and paper throwing on the floor of the Congreso. I’m talking about he-said-she-said… No, wait. This was all he-said-no-HE-said-wait-I can’t-believe-YOU-said politics to the whistles, jeers, cheers, and thunderous roars of coming-to-defense senators, who-do-you-think-you-are ministers, and dare-you-to-say-that-again parliamentarians going at it, take-that shoving the opposition and atta-boy-back-slapping amongst themselves (it IS an election year after all).
Right wing (UDI) Representative Gonzalo Arenas from the Araucanía Region in the south “subió el tono” with Christian Democrat (center) Minister of the Interior Edmundo Pérez Yoma over an indigenous (Mapuche) issue, along with accusations of “your party has been stealing…” and when the house leader called time, Arenas got up, stormed across the room, offered–and then “tossed”–a document onto the minister’s desk. Pérez Yoma heatedly flung it back, and Arenas fired it back again… boom-boom-boom… as several heads went down and hands went up to cover snickers as the place quickly whirled into a 20-minute pushing-shoving “compadre calm down” and “let me at ‘em” uproar of the kind that quickly finds its way to youtube stardom.
In fact, you can take a look here, at CNN Chile via youtube. (I haven’t found an English version yet, but the body language is so clear here that no language skills are necessary–or used, for that matter!).
Update on December 3, 2009:
It turns out that Chileans are not the only ones who get physical in parliament. Today all hell broke loose in a session of Argentina’s regional parliament, as shown on BBC News:
Lawmakers in Argentina throw chairs at each other (3 December 2009
And back tracking through other BBC links I found some real beauties, check out:
Fights in Bolivian parliament (August 2007)
South Korea MPs in mass brawl (August 2007)
And my personal favorite:
Czech politicians exchange blows (May 2006)