4 min read
A New Chile: After Elections, An Opportunity to Build Social Dignity, Not Just Following Orders from the Authority
Victor Saavedra

Chile has changed. These last two years have been full of historical moments that will have repercussions for the future of society and in the anti-capitalist movements of the world. Tensions between Chilean protesters advocating for economic reforms and the Chilean government and their oligarchy went to the constitutional convention, with new actors arising now who promise to fix the moribound and obsolete political and economical system. On December 19th, Apruebo Dignidad, a coalition of social democratic parties, won the presidential elections for the first time, with the populist president-elect Gabriel Boric promising to address the grievances of the protestors and deliver solutions to long standing structural issues that has plagued Chilean democracy. Once again people will have to trust populist politicians. Is social democracy the final destination of the October insurrection? To answer this question we have to look back a little in recent history. The recent protest movement by the Chilean people against their own government was a natural outcome of the fact that Chile has been ruled by the same oligarchy since colonial times which has imposed its own long-standing social, political and economic model on society. 

An important factor that led to the protest struggle to revindicate social rights was the distant and disconnected billionaire ruling class. The disconnect between the “political caste” and the everyday reality experienced by the common people in Chile, has led some to compare the gap between the Chilean economic classes as similar to the dynamics between Louis XVI and the 3rd estate which led to the French Revolution. A common comparison of Marie Antoinette's famous quote “Let them eat cake” is Piñera eating in a Pizzeria while the country was in flames on the night of October 18th. After the first month of protests that led to intense state repression by the oligarchy in an effort to protect their privileges from a revolution against them, members of the neoliberal left, centre and right joined together to sign the “Treaty of social peace and new constitution”, to form together and address the people’s demands. All of the signers were presidents of the political parties of the Chilean political spectrum, all of them except Gabriel Boric Font, the actual president elect. 

The figure of Boric, the first millennial president of Chile, appeared in 2011 after winning the presidency of the Federation of Students of the University of Chile in the middle of the Students movement for free education of that year. It is said inside student circles that Boric, Vallejo and Jackson, the main leaders of the student movement of 2011, sold out and ruined the movement just to make careers in politics, accepting poor solutions from the government, forgetting the main goal of free universal access and good quality of education. Now the same is said with Boric as president, and his political partners Vallejo and Jackson. Although he promises that his plans for government will stick close to the social ideas of the popular movement, their political behaviour has been erratic. When Boric was deputy of the lower house of the congress during the October insurrection, he voted in favour of provocative and repressive laws that permitted the mass jailing of protestors, and that’s when he gained the term “Amarillo”, that could be translated as someone who changes their discourse depending on who they are treating with or what they want to gain from it. Camila Vallejo before being deputy for the lower house said that Michelle Bachelet was another neoliberal figure that did not deserve trust. Yet, later when she was in campaign for congress, she called everyone to vote for Bachelet for a second term. How could a coalition with erratic behaviour govern in favour of the people without selling out the popular movement again like in the past? Someone could say the end justifies the means and that we had to choose between Boric or an openly reactionary Pinochetist. The latter figure endangered the loss of all the social victories for the social reform movement, with the real prospect of Chile regressing 30 years. 

One of the current fights of the protesters is the liberation of political prisoners of the insurrection. It is said that more than 2500 people are in jail for reasons involving their fight against state oppression. Ciper Chile, an independent journalist media, did an investigation of those jailed for protesting for change in Chile, and found 77 with official detained offences, the rest are still in jail without a proper sentence or judgement. Boric’s close friend and campaign leader, Giorgio Jackson, who also voted in favour of repressive laws, said that when Boric assumed the presidency, they would retire all accusations where the State Security Law was applied. This law was inherited from Pinochet’s dictatorship and it was used for all the governments of the democracy transition, it allowed high prison sentences for public disorder . According to Ciper, just 3 people fit that description, the 74 left behind, who are accused of manufacturing Molotov cocktails, public disorder, making barricades, etc. will stay in jail. Is it another betrayal to the movement? History has demonstrated that insurrections are the engine of national history. Without direct action, nothing could change even a little bit. Showing clemency to these jailed protestors, would be a huge step towards social peace. If the Government continues keeping the fighters in jail, it's just another message that they are another faction of the same oligarchy that ruled the territory of Chile for centuries. If so then the people will not be free even in a so-called Social Democratic government. Who can tell if the new Social Democratic government and the new constitution will give back dignity to the people? Who will give back the lives lost because they did not have enough money to pay for treatments? Who will do so for our dried land that has been destroyed by mining projects? Our fallen comrades who died during the insurrection who were fighting for our rights, what would they say if they found out ‘the Amarillo’ is the new president after all the fighting? 

What is true, is that people have to protect all the liberties won along the fight, and occupy all of the resources available to achieve their goals, but never surrender to the bourgeois democracy. We have to be strong and united more than ever and never leave the streets. We have to fight for the freedom of our comrades locked up in the state dungeons. We have to fight against misery and the strong inequality in the distribution of wealth, because poverty is massive in Chile, thanks to the economic model that only defends people privileged with it. Some indicators say poverty was reduced more than 25% thanks to the neoliberalist system. I would ask you, do you consider someone as poor if they are earning 3 USD per day? Is being rich having a smartphone or a computer? We cannot count anymore on common material goods to measure poverty. Poverty in the 21st century is lack of opportunities, lack of social security, not having enough money to pay rent or pay for public transport. Not being able to buy a house and paying for the responsibility of the global financial crisis. The new government will never be social or democratic, every government will always be authoritarian. We, the people, have to build the real democracy with community organisation and popular defence, we have to be smart and alert against the (old) new oligarchy, not just voting for a fair master, but we must fight to the complete liberation of our society against the hands of the so-called authority and their capitalist oligarchs.

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