June 11 marked the official start of the most important soccer tournament in South America – the 2015 Copa América in Chile. It was expected, given the importance of the event, that the country's president, Michelle Bachelet, would attend and even give some sort of welcome speech. But many wondered how the president would be welcomed to the National Stadium, given the low levels of approval for her administration and the questions of corruption surrounding her closest political and familial circle.
In March, Bachelet's approval rating hit a record low in her two terms as president: 31%, a rather distant number from the one that turned her into the most well-known and best-rated Chilean political figure.
Her opponents started a campaign called #PifiaaBachelet (#MockBachelet) on social networks days before the start of the tournament, inviting attendees to the stadium to protest against her:
— Copa America 2015 (@CAmericaChile) June 11, 201
All of Chile from Arica to Punta Arenas yelling: RESIGN JINX
WE WANT IT HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR!!!
— KENNO GALVEZ (@KENNOKESII) June 11, 2015
Smoke screens that cannot obscure the discontent over this bad government full of improvisations.
One of the biggest points of contention critics have with the Bachelet administration is education reform, adopted in February 2015, which has driven the student movement to the streets once again and made professors go on strike. Even on Copa América's opening day, Chilean students and certain teachers on strike staged a protest in the iconic Plaza Italia de Santiago, which they called “The Copa América of Education“. During this protest, they launched hundreds of balls in the air with messages like “free-of-charge with no fine print”.
In the video below, they summarize their position, comparing themselves to the Chilean national soccer team:
En Chile, miles de profesores llevan décadas disputando muchas copas. Hoy día disputamos una verdadera Copa América. La copa por la carrera docente que dignifique realmente la labor de cada maestra y maestro.
In Chile, thousands of professors have spent decades competing for cups. Today we are competing for a true Copa América. The cup awarded to the teaching profession that truly dignifies the work of every teacher out there.
After Copa América's opening match, President Bachelet left the stadium quietly. Her presence was not announced, there were no speeches, and presumably her team of advisers requested that the official broadcast exclude takes or close-ups of her to keep her image from being projected on big screens in the stadium. Chileans commented and widely debated her actions with hashtag #BacheletCOBARDE, (#BacheletTHECOWARD), which became a nationally trending topic.
— Carlos Hurtado R (@CarlosTerceroHR) June 12, 2015
Hiding, Bachelet evaded mockery last night for overwhelming public condemnation 65%+ rejects her administration!
Porque no anunciaron ayer en el estadio a la Corrupta Bachelet ??? Facil, porque la pifiadera habria sido histórica 👎👎👎👎 #BacheletCOBARDE
— Facho Rodriguez (@fachorodriguez) June 12, 2015
Why didn't they announce the Corrupt Bachelet last night in the stadium??? Easy, because the mockery would have been historic
Mucho mas honorable hubiese sido presentarse al país y comerse las pifias estoicamente, pero decidió esconderse. #BacheletCobarde
— Weón (@ElWeonTroll) June 12, 2015
It would've been much more honorable to present herself to the country and take the jokes stoically, but she decided to hide.
#BacheletCOBARDE tu amiga Dilma es igual de incompetente, pero no arrugó en el Mundial: lo inauguró como corresponde y se comió las pifias.
— Leonardo Palma (@leonardopid) June 12, 2015
your friend Dilma is equally as incompetent as you, but she wasn't scared by the World Cup: she kicked it off properly and took the jokes.
User @EraDeUltroll referred to President Bachelet's leadership after the earthquake and tsunami of 2010:
But if Bachelet has always hidden or ran from problems, like she did during 27F, why are you surprised?
On the other hand, some accused the people using the #BacheletCOBARDE hashtag as being driven by political ideologies, not concrete criticism of her administration. Others pushed back against that allegation.
Los que se regocijan con #BacheletCOBARDE,son los adoradores de Pinochet,q se hizo el enfermo para no enfrentar la justicia. Esa es cobardía
— Jorge A Richards (@ja_richards) June 12, 2015
Those rejoicing in #BacheletTHECOWARD are supporters of [Chilean dictator Augusto] Pinochet, who got sick just so he wouldn't have to face justice. That is cowardice.
Tratar de “Facho” a todo aquel que lleva el hashtag #BacheletCOBARDE es tan mononeuronal y monotemático de nivel básico
— AnthoStark (@AnthoStark) June 12, 2015
Treating anyone who uses hashtag #BacheletTHECOWARD like fascists is so single-minded even on the most basic level.
Even more moronic than believing that hashtag #BacheletTHECOWARD was only used by right-wingers. Hahahaha, as if the left-wingers supported her!!
Some alluded to the president's only “public act” during the event — a selfie with the players following their victory — and took the opportunity to stress, once again, the debt she has with the country.
These ultra right-wingers invent #BacheletTHECOWARD and squirm with anger and envy. They'll never have this selfie.
#BacheletCOBARDE por que no va al norte o a la Araucanía a sarcarse selfis o mejor aun x k no a revisar los antecedentes de sus ministros??
— jonathan valenzuela (@jonavalenz) June 12, 2015
Why doesn't #BacheletTHECOWARD go up north or to Araucanía to take selfies or better yet, why doesn't she go review her ministers’ records?
Presidenta., por qué no se toma una foto con las familias de los carabineros asesinados en servicio? #BacheletCOBARDE
— Valar Morghulis (@axelzs) June 12, 2015
Madam President, why don't you take a photo with the families of policemen killed on duty?
La bache tb debería sacarse selfies c usuarios del TranStgo, después d todo ella les heredó esa mugre d transporte público #BacheletCOBARDE
— Claudia :D (@Claunubed) June 12, 2015
Bachelet should also take selfies with TranSantiago users. After all, she gave them this filthy public transportation system
— Alvaro Javier Suarez (@alvarosuarez17) June 12, 2015
Why doesn't this woman here take a selfie instead of #BacheletTHECOWARD?
Sign reads: I dream of the day that education awakens the same passion as soccer does in our country.
Regarding the use of hashtags, @turcosalama29 concluded:
Pa q crean estas weas de HT #BacheletCOBARDE si después el día de las elecciones no son capaces de parar la raja para ir a votar
— Ulises #VamosLaU (@turcosalama29) June 12, 2015
Why do you believe these stupid #BacheletTHECOWARD hashtags if they're not capable of moving their asses to go vote after election day?
And Tuitero Liberal reflected as follows:
— Tuitero Liberal (@TuiteroLiberal) June 12, 2015
A president incapable of showing their face to the public doesn't deserve to be president.