Giovanna Grandón, The ‘Aunt Pikachu’ Who Drove a School Bus And Who Will Now Draft The New Chilean Constitution

On October 25, 2019, two important things happened in the life of Giovanna Grandón, 45, which marked the beginning of the Constitution of a new Chile. First, she disguised herself as Pikachu and, second, she tripped on a curb while trying to walk wrapped in that yellow plastic that made her the most popular fictional character of the 21st century and the clumsiest person in the historic march that brought together 1.2 million people, in Santiago de Chile alone, to protest against the inequality and injustice of the country’s neoliberal policies.

Fortune did not stop smiling at Grandón and someone recorded with his mobile the tremendous fall of the Chilean Pikachu, which immediately went viral. Giovanna Grandón, on the other end of the phone, admits that she became an activist that day.

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And for a year and a half she has crossed the country in disguise to protest, dance, confront the power and the police, bring food to camps with people more in need than she and become one of the 155 people chosen by the people to write the new Constitution of the country, thanks to the more than 16,000 votes it received this past Sunday from residents of District 12, southeast of the capital, in a historic vote that illuminates the emergence of a new Chilean political class sheltered in La Lista del Pueblo.

“She is not just a person who dances in a costume, Aunt Pikachu has faced the police for more than a year on the street, fighting daily and feeding those most in need across the country. No one should be surprised. that she has been elected by the people to represent them in the drafting of the new Constitution. Everyone knows her, because she represents the complete opposite of the class privileges that President Piñera defends. We do politics daily, with human contact. We do not obey, we rebelled and defeated the old politics on their field and with its rules, “explains who calls himself Chancho de Guerra, head of communication for La Lista, who clarifies that they are not a political party. “We are an organization that emerged in Plaza Dignidad against the corrupt government. We are a movement and we will not stop being one until the country is worthy. We are the people.”

The rhetoric against the Chilean political caste is reminiscent of the beginnings of Podemos in Spain, and if Pablo Iglesias made the expression “storm the skies” famous, the mission they repeat in La Lista is “to jump the turnstiles of power.” It is a reference to the beginning of this revolutionary process, when the rise in the price of the subway ticket, and the call of a group of women to evade payment by jumping the barriers of the Santiago de Chile stations, ended up striking down the constitutional heritage of the dictator Pinochet.

Giovanna Grandón is the perfect prototype of the new political class that these speeches of satiety draw. Until Chile was locked up in confinement, “Aunt Pikachu” was a school bus driver, she was in debt for her son’s medical treatment (more than five million pesos, about 6,000 euros) and the money she had saved to continue studying in The older one had dedicated it to her daughter’s studies.

“I know what the situation of the people is, because I am part of them,” he tells this newspaper. After what happened on Sunday, he will have an office and a secretary, although he still does not know where he has to go to work. He repeats over and over again that he is going to study hard so that in the writing of the first Constitution of the Chilean people public education is defended.

That march changed Giovanna’s life like the rest of Chileans, but in her case she says that she saw the light of politics when she dressed up in the disguise of that species of yellow squirrel, which stores electricity in its cheeks and represents one of the milestones of the cuqui in contemporary society.

The professor of Philosophy at King’s College London, Simon May, has identified the famous character from the Pokémon saga as part of one of the great events of our time: the cult of the child. For May, childhood is the new space of the sacred and its objects -like Pikachu- are “sources of calm and reliable intimacy at a time that seems to be running rampant towards an explosion of fears, fury, grievances and historical injustices”, writes the author of The power of the cute (Alpha Decay).

“If I hadn’t dressed up as Pikachu, none of this would have happened,” says Grandón. She doesn’t just mean that she, before Pikachu, didn’t pay much attention to political matters. He was dedicated to the demanding task of surviving in a country with reduced welfare. He recognizes in the disguise something more than his conscience and it was his recognition.

Without Pikachu, she would have been a working woman whose seven-year-old son got into trouble when she grabbed her husband’s phone and bought things worth 600,000 pesos (about 700 euros), including the costume that would take her to the glory. They resold everything to get a part back. Not all. Giovanna kept the Pikachu that her son loved so much and decided to release it a few days before Halloween. You know the rest of the history of that yellow bug that is pure revolutionary sweetness.

Giovanna is more tired of interviews than of going out to dance and protest. The pacos (police) they have beaten her and has not stopped dancing. They shot her and continued to do so. They arrested her and when she left she returned to the street to dance.

He had two new costumes prepared for his return, a gift. It has broken almost a dozen of them in the marches and demonstrations, in the clashes with the forces of order in the Plaza Dignidad, where the protesters demolished the equestrian statue of Manuel Baquedano. A gift was also the tattoo that he wears on his left forearm. “Before, I didn’t even like them,” says Grandón. Of course, it is a Pikachu.

“Not only do they protest with the fight, I think the costume made people happy the moment I appeared with it. We need a lot of strength to move forward and change the country however it is,” says Grandón.



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