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Davis, California

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Letter to the Editor: Chilean Student Association

I have several concerns regarding the Chilean Student Association of UC Davis, California.

It blows my mind that the students who belong to this association have chosen to participate in a lunch with a visiting, unelected Congressman from Chile who was appointed by the leadership of his party (UDI) to represent District #32 in the south. With this act, the message conveyed to the general public is that the association is bypassing the fundamentals of the Democratic process of “one person, one vote” and it condones the anti-democratic system that exists in Chile that allows people like him to be the representatives of people without ever having participated in an election.

Furthermore, his trip to Davis happens to be at the same time that he is supposed to be working in his District and attending to the concerns of his constituency, according to the house rules of the Chilean Congress.

Regarding my second concern, there are still many Chilean-Californians waiting to see if the association will take a public position regarding the student conflict in Chile. These students need all the support they can get from fellow students abroad, especially those at UC Davis. Is the association planning to take a stand, because the majority of these students who are studying at UC Davis are the recipient of a scholarship funded by the people of Chile. I myself pay property taxes in Chile, so I have a stake in this matter. So as a taxpayer, I believe that the association should and must take a public position regarding the student conflict in Chile, and not simply wait for the issue to be resolved.

Boris Cardenas
Chilean-American Davis resident


  1. Although Mr Cardenas is entitled to his concerns, they seem to me completely out of context. When we organized the Association the main purposes were, as stated on its web page, to serve as a cooperation network for current and prospective Chilean students at UCD, to promote our culture and to eventually get funds to help communities-in-need in Chile (Mr. Cardenas should know this as in the website he appears as the Secretary of the Association). To be completely honest, the main idea was to have a committee in charge of organizing the 18 de Septiembre BBQ and use this celebration as a “welcoming party” to the new students.
    Aa an example of our goal, several of us put together a document called “Bienvenidos a Davis” which compiled our experiences as newcomers and tips for new students like registering for the SISS Bulletin Board, where to buy an used bicycle, where to look for apartments or where to buy Manjar. This document can still be found on the Association website and has been used by other South American students as well.
    Being a “taxpayer” does not entitle Mr Cardenas to demand a stand from the Association as it does not receive money from the Chilean government (or any government for that matter). The members of the Association are certainly entitled to take a stand on this or any political matter but it is not in the essence of the Association to take a stand in any political issue. The Association should remain an instance to bring us together around our traditions: pan amasado, pisco sours, pebres and sopaipillas.
    In my seven years living at Davis I was always envious of the Argentineans, Brazilians, Colombians, Spaniards who overcome their differences and have very strong, well organized associations while we Chileans have to always tag ourselves as Derechistas vs Izquierdistas, Pinochetistas vs Comunistas, Concertacionistas vs Facistas.
    I have several concerns about Mr Cardenas acting as Secretary of an Association he does not understand and, as one of the founders of the Association I DO have a stake in this matter. I believe Mr Cardenas should and must step down.

    Samuel Barros
    UCD Alumni


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