March 21, 2016

Indigenous Chileans in Madam Secretary

A recent episode of Madam Secretary dealt with

Madam Secretary recap: 'Higher Learning'

An agreement between a U.S. mining company and Chile goes awry.

By Lindsey Kupfer
Madam Secretary
Season 2, Ep. 17 | Aired Mar 20

The show opens in the Andes mountains in Chile. There is a group protesting an American company, Hercutel, for mining gold in their mountains. The protest gets ugly, and someone throws a rock at the American driver. According to Bess’ team, the mining agreement between Hercutel and the Chilean government was completely legal, but now the president of Chile has changed her mind and accused the company of negotiating more than their fair share of profits, sparking the various protests.
Later:Bess talks to the foreign minister, threatening to cripple their economy, and Chile quickly agrees to reopen the mining operation in the morning. Nothing’s that simple, though. A man named Hugo from the Inhawoji people of Chile reveals in an online video that the mountain belongs to the indigenous people and has belonged to them for 6,000 years. That means that the Chilean government had no right to make an agreement with Hercutel. In protest, Hugo says he’s going to climb the mountain to save it or he will die trying—while live-streaming his climb of course. Welcome to 2016.College protester Brian Andrew Lindstrom confronts Bess, then sues her when her bodyguard "invades his personal space." Bess visits the Lindstrom family to talk Brian out of suing, leading to this exchange:Elizabeth McCord: I think the thing getting lost here, Mr. and Mrs. Lindstrom, is your son's passionate commitment to social justice. Young people rising up against the abuse of power has been a force for change many times in this country, and Brian was right. Not about the mining contract. That was legitimate. But about the larger issue. The brutal legacy of colonialism asserting itself once again in Chile. That turned out to be true. And, Brian, without you guys and the Chilean citizens rising up against what you thought was wrong, the Inhawoji people might not have dared raised their voices, too, and found a world ready to listen.

Brian Andrew Lindstrom: Thanks, Mrs. Secretary.

Blake Moran: Madam Secretary.

Elizabeth McCord: Don't stop speaking truth to power. But, maybe the best way to call upon our better selves is for you to show us yours.
Brian's parents yell at him to stop complaining and he agrees to drop the lawsuit.

It's rare to hear a politician talk about colonialism, even if it happened as far as possible from the US but in the same hemisphere. Even a liberal Secretary of State such as John Kerry or Hillary Clinton wouldn't take the side of the people against a democratic ally. That's what makes Madam Secretary such a good show.

Incidentally, I think the Inhawoji are a fictional group. I couldn't find anything about them on the Internet.

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