Contributions to Understand a Revolution
By Joaquín Araneda, Movimiento Anticapitalista leader.
“The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct intervention of the masses in historical events. In ordinary times the state, be it monarchical or democratic, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business – kings, ministers, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists. But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create by their own intervention the initial groundwork for a new régime. Whether this is good or bad we leave to the judgment of moralists. We ourselves will take the facts as they are given by the objective course of development. The history of a revolution is for us above all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.” (Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution)
The “oasis” of the continent, the golden dream of neo-liberalism, the country of free trade agreements and repression without consequences, stood up one day and brought back the times of industrial cordones(1) and the “socialist” experience from the far reaches of memory with a rebellious scream. With the violence of contained contradictions, the Chilean people decided once and for all to abandon the painful memory of past defeats, to end that cycle, and launch a new one that is still being written.
The secondary school students lit the fuse, organizing an evasion of the metro turnstiles against a new increase of the fares, which are already among the most expensive of the continent. They convened at the stations to jump over the barriers by the hundreds, inspiring thousands of workers who use those trains every day, thousands who use this service to reach health care centers that charge them for a poor service, thousands who use it to study at universities that indebt them for years and years, thousands who, despite having worked their entire lives, lack a pension with which to live with dignity.
The metro stations of that “Friday of fury” concentrated and
expanded all the contradictions of a model that abandoned millions of Chileans
during long years, then the evasion became massive. And the Piñera government´s
“normal” response of violent repression triggered widespread outrage and
Four Weeks to Change 30 Years
The first week was marked by clashes, barricades and cacerolazos(2): a response to the violent state repression. The process quickly gained strength and a massive tide of people flooded the streets. The general strike brought strength and confidence to the protests and forced the government to apologize for its “lack of vision” and begin a shift in how it was dealing with the situation.
The second week, daily mobilizations with massive turnouts took over the streets and the government was forced to withdraw the state of emergency and curfew it had decreed. As a counterpart to that retreat, bourgeois institutional forces dove into frantic parliamentary negotiations to attempt “agreements” to deactivate the process. That is when they announced social measures and the voting of laws that had been blocked until that moment, such as the 40-hour work week. It is fair to say that these attempts were in vain: far from deactivating the revolution, they extended it nationally and images from across the country confirmed its historical character.
The third week added a very important element: the emergence of embryonic organizations of self-organization and debate. Assemblies, councils and strike committees arose north and south throughout the country, centered in Santiago. Plaza Italia had already become Plaza de la Dignidad (Dignity Square). The announcement by a collective of unions, led by the port workers, to convene a new general strike on November 12 put the regime on guard, and it returned to its repressive speech, announcing tougher persecution against hooded protestors and those who made barricades. Again, like all previous attempts, it failed.
The fourth week, no doubt, saw the process take a leap forward. The strength of the general strike was evident, completely paralyzing the activities of an already shaken country. That strike and the massive national mobilization that accompanied it, forced the government to take heed of the demand for constitutional change. At a press conference, Piñera practically begged the rest of the regime’s forces to negotiate a pact, which they ended up sealing with the Broad Front (FA), the Communist Party (PC) and other forces. But the pact is strongly rejected by the rank-and-file and has even produced divisions in the forces that subscribe to it.
Despite all this, the process is far from over and, in the next few weeks, many debates will develop about how to carry on.
The Characteristics of the Revolution
A semi-insurrection(2) broke out in Chile that brought out the most extreme aspects of the class struggle, which are veiled most of the time, and exposed them brutally. The action of the masses quickly identified the government and the entire regime as responsible for 30 years of looting, repression and impunity.
The popular and spontaneous nature of the uprising does not contradict the important and even “defining” participation of the working class through two general strikes and the organization of grassroots strike committees. In addition, a huge vanguard of the youth has confronted the repressive forces from the start, awakening the sympathy of broad sectors of the population and, as a counterpart, a massive rejection of institutions that had played a prominent role in the regime, such as the Police and the Army.
The uprising occurred in Santiago and we could say that the “ex” Plaza Italia, today Plaza de la Dignidad, became its icon. But it soon spread to the regions, infecting the entire country. Concepción, Valparaíso, Valdivia, Punta Arenas, Antofagasta and every square, main avenue and neighborhood of Chile has become an arena of mobilizations and confrontations with the Army and the Police. And then came the emergence of centers of self-organization and deliberation.
The motivations for the uprising, the fuel of the revolution, lay in the 30 years of a regime created by the dictatorship and supported by successive “democratic” governments (see “The “transition” pact between Pinochet and the Concertación”), that plunged workers, the youth and the Chilean people into misery and inequality. What the parties and institutions struggled to sustain during 30 years, the mobilized people turned upside down in a few days, revealing to the entire world that capitalism has no “oasis”, but a decline that is expressed with greater strength every day.
Over the passing weeks, a non-institutionalized dual power developed, with embryonic organizations of deliberation that laid the foundations of a “program” of the revolution that contemplates social, economic and democratic demands with anti-capitalist characteristics, passing over the institutional order and challenging each of the government´s “orders” and threats.
Another important characteristic is the absence of a clear leadership and much less of any political force with hegemony over representation of the movement, which facilitates the conditions to develop a revolutionary current, on the condition of merging with the dozens and dozens of “natural cadres” that are forging their political experience in the heat of the struggle. The cabros and cabras, the capuchas(3); the youth and social collectives dominate the political leadership of the movement by far.
Although the working class does not clearly act as such in the mobilization process – and this is a weakness – it was the protagonist of two general strikes, and some union sectors stood out for pressing in favor of the struggle. In this regard, port workers and a sector of the miners were at the vanguard against the conciliatory and demobilizing attitude of the CUT (Workers´ United Center) leadership.
The absence of a revolutionary leadership with mass influence is another weakness, perhaps the most significant one, of the revolution in Chile, and the main challenge to overcome.
These weaknesses, in addition to the decidedly treacherous actions of all political forces with parliamentary representation and those that lead the unions, explain why, despite having a 91% disapproval rating, Piñera has not yet resigned.
Power Against Power
The assemblies, councils and, above all, the massive and sustained mobilization, constitute a true non-institutionalized power that questions the power of the bourgeoisie and its parties. The government’s measures and announcements and all its repressive attempts have failed to deactivate this force, which causes the regime´s “instability”. They are not “foreign interventions” or “aliens”, as they say in La Moneda (presidential palace).
Contrary to what some currents that seek to “achieve what they can, taking advantage of the struggle” hold, the vast majority of the mass movement is not motivated by this or that specific demand, but by their weariness with the life they have been subjected to for decades. They have identified those responsible for this crisis and therefore trust no one, not the government, nor Congress or the armed forces.
The political tasks posed by this revolution, the “fuel” that we referred to, seek its organizational forms in the wake of the betrayal of the old – and not so old – leaderships, and sprouts on street corners and parks, in schools and universities. There, everything is discussed, creating new forms in the absence of others or against the boycott of traditional leaderships. Yet, after a month of uninterrupted mobilization, these forms fail to institutionalize as a clearly defined dual power.
At these centers of self-organization, the important debates for the
future of the struggle are held, such as the need to sustain the mobilization until
the Piñera government falls, to set up a Constituent Assembly to reorganize the
country on new bases and also to build a new government, this time not of the
bosses, but of the workers and the people. Another fundamental debate is about
the need to organize self-defense mechanisms against the repression to strike
against the fundamental pillar of the political regime: its armed forces. In
addition to these central tasks, there is a discussion about the set of
political, economic and social measures that are needed to lay the foundations
for a different Chile, diametrically opposed to the capitalist disaster that has
The Government, Institutions and Parties
The first response of the Piñera government, as we said, consisted of repression and the announcement of an alleged “war against a very powerful enemy.” The images of the president surrounded by military men, the state of emergency and the curfew were the concrete expression of his statements, as well as the application of the “anti-terrorism” law to judge thousands of detainees.
Piñera´s speech began to change near the end of the first week. With the military still deployed in the streets and allegations of torture centers installed in the metro stations, the government apologized “for the lack of vision” and announced the cancellation of the metro fare hike. After the “biggest march in history,” he announced a package of social measures, the end of the state of emergency and ended up asking for the resignation of his entire cabinet, including Andrés Chadwick, Minister of the Interior and Public Security, Piñera´s cousin and iron fist of the regime, with an active participation in the dictatorship and a central role in Piñera´s government.
None of these measures managed to divert attention from Piñera and his government, identified by the great majority of the people as the great culprits of the disaster. Amid scandals and heated debates, Congress also showed its willingness to sustain the institutional order in the worst moments of the crisis. It promoted initiatives that had been shelved, like the reduction of working hours, seeking to divert the mobilization towards institutional channels. The most “radical” sectors of Parliament did not deviate from those maneuvers at any time.
It is worth highlighting that the parties of the former New Majority (PC and Socialist Party – PS) and the “progressive” FA (see “The Defenders of the Capitalist Institutional Order”) worked to dismantle the process of mobilization. When people occupied the streets asking Piñera to resign, these parties “mounted” themselves on the process to try to lead it. First they presented a constitutional accusation against the president, then they talked about convening a plebiscite for a Constituent Assembly and, after the renewal of ministers, they ended up sealing a pact with Piñera. That is, in the moment of greatest democratization, with millions on the streets taking “rulership over their own destinies” into their hands, these paper thin democrats made every effort to resolve the crisis in a dialogue between leaders.
The revolution exposed, as it always does, not only the most violent face of capital and its political managers but also the true face of the apparatuses that call themselves progressive and their local and international cheerleaders.
General Strike and Mobilization Versus Pact With the Right
The government´s attempts to dismantle the process found privileged partners in the FA and PC leaderships, and in all the regime´s forces at different levels. Perhaps the event that ended up provoking this unity was the powerful general strike of November 12, which was convened against the will of most leaderships, driven, above all, by the port workers, but which managed to drag along the Social Unity front (FA and PC) and the mass of the mobilized people in an action that pushed the government to the brink. Far from pushing it over the cliff, these leaders rescued the government by accepting the pact that Piñera proposed, which includes an exhausting and totally bureaucratic process to “transform the Constitution”, in fact granting the resolution of the issue to the very forces that the vast majority of the population rejects.
As we pointed out in our November 15 flyer: “The Christian Democrats (DC), the PC and the FA started working with
that purpose: to make a pact with the right. The backdrop of this development was the great strength that the general strike
displayed, which fueled a historical productive strike and opened the
possibility of aiming for the full objective: a constituent assembly
without the oversight of current political powers. This context accelerated the
“pact” that the right and the “opposition” have signed behind the people´s
* A plebiscite in April 2020 to ask what the people have already shouted in the streets (“New Constitution”) without the option of a “Constituent Assembly”, as an obvious concession to the most reactionary government.
* But that’s not all: the operating mechanism to change the Constitution, in addition, empowers the right to obstruct all changes that question its class privileges. It establishes the requirement of 2/3 of the members of the “Convention” to pass any law. This way, with 1/3, the right can block any progress and, therefore, everything has to be agreed by consensus.
* The election of “convention delegates” will take place in October 2020 under the same current electoral system that gives priority to traditional parties.
This is what we have been warning about for weeks: with Piñera and his accomplices, the constitutional process that we demand as a people will not come to be.”
This downright betrayal against the revolution is a repeat of the
transition that allowed the dictatorship to leave behind a solid regime that
the forces of “democracy” have been responsible for sustaining. But
it does not come without a cost to the perpetrators: the collapsing of
expectation and support for the FA is also expressed in new divisions between
its components, and even within each party that integrates the front. It should
be noted that, while the Pinochet transition was mounted on the basis of a
brutal defeat of the masses, in this case we experience a process of ascent and
revolution. Their institutional adaptation, their skepticism in the mass
movement and their respect for the limits of capital make these supposed
“renovators” of politics one of the most conservative forces in a process that has
made the conscience of hundreds of thousands advance.
The Anticapitalist Movement and the ISL in the Test of Revolution
Those of us who write these lines do not observe the facts from a neutral position: we participate with all our forces, contributing opinions and promoting the mobilization and emergence of assembly centers in political struggle with the treacherous and reformist leaderships. And we do not do this alone: along with us, the International Socialist League carries the flag of the Chilean revolution across the world to surround it with solidarity.
Unlike those who were surprised by the course of events, we held an analysis that took up the enormous student marches against the privatization of education, the feminist tide that saw our continent at its vanguard, the massive mobilizations for No + AFP (private social security), the port strikes and other events that indicated an accumulation of contradictions that the “Chilean model” could not endure for much longer.
That framework allowed us from the outset to assume that we were facing a historic change in our country and to respond with revolutionary politics. We tirelessly faced the state of emergency and the curfew alongside the mobilized people. We proposed what people in the streets chanted from the beginning, Piñera must go, as a central slogan, adding the need for a Constituent Assembly to reorganize the country on new bases, because what was beginning to break was the regime inherited from the dictatorship and not just a nefarious government.
Against the leaderships that advocated trust in the institutions, we called for strengthening self-organization and democratic debate at the grassroots, defending mobilizations and general strikes articulated from the bottom up as the only guarantees for victory, and rejecting the pact that was sealed behind the people’s backs.
Finally, we also pointed out that this process has a task that has been expressed negatively, but whose materialization would allow a qualitative leap: the conquest of a government of those who have never ruled, the workers and the oppressed, for this uprising against the forces of the bourgeoisie to find a revolutionary exit.
It is for all these reasons that our political and organizational actions have been and are directed by the task of building a strong revolutionary current, born out of the process; and for that reason we coordinate actions, participate in assemblies and mobilize, proposing to the youth, workers, women and the people of Chile to turn this challenge into a reality together.
If, as Trotsky wrote a century ago, “the most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events,” then building a political alternative of the insurgent masses is the fundamental task of the revolution that we are experiencing and we will work for it with all our strength.
1. Workers´ councils organized during the 1970s revolutionary process in Chile.
2. Protests of people banging pots and pans.
3. Marxist term to describe an insurrectionary process, of anti-capitalist characteristics but without a revolutionary leadership, like what we are seeing in Chile.
4. Cabro / cabra is a common Chilean slang term for “young person”. Capuchas refers to the hooded protesters of the front lines against the repression.
The 1970´s Chilean Revolution and the Failure of the “Peaceful Road”
4, 1970, Popular Unity (UP), composed of the Socialist Party (PS), the
Communist Party (PC) and other minor formations like the Radical Party, the
MAPU and API, won the elections, catapulting socialist leader Salvador Allende
to the presidency: he obtained 36.63% of the votes and was appointed by
Congress from between the two most voted candidates.
The UP government developed amidst a revolutionary process of the Chilean people. The former presidency of Christian Democrat Frei was shaken by numerous workers’ struggles against his austerity plans and important marches for an educational reform of a student movement deeply influenced by the Cuban revolution. A great revolution that questioned the country´s capitalist bases developed in Chile in the early 1970s.
The Allende government, which received political support from Fidel Castro and favored the “peaceful road to socialism” and a “gradual” process negotiated with the bourgeoisie, was pressed by the revolutionary workers and popular mobilizations to take a series of progressive measures that, though not breaking with the capitalist economy, confronted US imperialism and big business. Among them, the nationalization of copper and mining, along with many companies, the expansion of agrarian reform and a significant increase in wages.
The fighting masses took every opportunity to take control of factories, mechanisms of distribution and organization, which provoked a strong reaction from the right that tried several times to liquidate the revolutionary process. The employers’ strike of October 1972, which managed to paralyze the country for three weeks, produced a strong radicalization and gave rise to the industrial cordones: a workers’ organization that broke with the shackles of the PC led CUT force vest and developed important experiences of doual power.
Allende, instead of relying on the growing force of the revolution, faced the crisis by putting together a cabinet of “loyal” and “democratic” military officers who, with General Prats at the helm, governed Chile until the 1973 elections. The UP government confronted and antagonized the experiences of self-organization, accusing them of rushing the process and not allowing negotiation with different bourgeois sectors, Christian Democracy (DC) and the military.
In the parliamentary elections of March 1973, the UP increased its vote to 43.4%. The government squandered this new support of the Chilean people, and the DC, the right-wing parties, together with the Chilean bourgeoisie, with full support of US imperialism, conspired with the armed forces and prepared to overthrow the government. Their first attempt, the “tancazo” of June 29, was defeated. In immediate response, a popular mobilization in support the UP government brought together more than one million workers in Santiago.
Far from organizing that enormous force and relying on the industrial cordones to organize a resistance and divide the bases of the armed forces and Carabineros, Allende, following the policy of the PC and the PS, surrounded himself with “loyal” military leaders and appointed a second military cabinet. At the same time, he implemented a gun control law, which, with the excuse of controlling the right-wing armament, was actually used to control and suppress the armed self-defense of the factories and the neighborhoods. He abandoned the sailors of Talcahuano and Valparaíso, who had faced and defeated their coup plotting officers.
Finally, on September 11, 1973, there was a bloody coup d’etat headed by General Pinochet after which more than 3,000 people were murdered, more than 35,000 prisoners were brutally tortured from a total of 300,000 that were detained, and a similar figure was forced into exile. It was the defeat and physical disappearance of a large part of the Chilean revolutionary vanguard. None of the important organizations of the left or the ultra-leftist MIR lived up to the tasks demanded by the times. There lacked a revolutionary alternative that, like the Bolsheviks in Russia, could have led the revolution to victory.
The “Transition” Pact of Pinochet and the Concertación
exit that would allow the regime to survive, preserve large quotas of power and
continue to sustain the ultra-liberal economic model that the Chicago Boys (1)
inaugurated, Pinochet decreed a new Constitution in 1980. It survives to date
with 25 changes, and it provided that Pinochet remain in power until 1988, when
a plebiscite was held to decide if he would remain as president for a similar
Among the central characteristics of that Constitution, aimed at preserving the regime´s main Bonapartist (2) features were: 1) the election of the president with broad powers for eight years; 2) a National Security Council composed of commanders in chief with control over the president and Congress; 3) a Constitutional Court that could apply political-ideological proscriptions against organizations and individuals, dismiss senators or deputies, and whose members would be appointed by the dictatorship´s Supreme Court; 4) a Congress with a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate, whose members would be elected biannually and included nine lifelong senators appointed by the dictatorship, who would legislate alongside another 26 senators elected by the people; 5) a complicated mechanism of constitutional reform.
The Struggles of 1983 to 1986 Pushed Pinochet to the Edge of the Abyss
The collapse of the dictatorships of Argentina and Bolivia, plus the crisis that struck Brazil and Uruguay, had an impact on the Chilean situation. In 1982, the economic plan of the dictatorship entered into crisis and there were student and construction worker struggles. On May 11, 1983, the Chilean people massively took to the streets and initiated a cycle of powerful protests and national strikes in 1984 and 1986 that, with barricades, fires and street battles, reached semi-insurrection levels.
Faced with the certain danger of the fall of the regime, imperialism and the Church pressured Pinochet into opening a negotiated political exit. Opposition parties were a key piece of that plan. The Christian Democratic Party (DC), which had supported the coup and later passed to the opposition, along with the Socialist Party (PS), acted to divert the mobilizations toward the terrain of negotiation and a possible electoral exit. The Communist Party (PC), with a strong influence in the labor movement and protests, instead of orienting them toward ousting Pinochet, supported the negotiation strategy, calling for confidence in a sector of the armed forces.
A Reform to Ensure Continuity
Cornered by the crisis and mobilizations, using the breathing space provided by the capitulation of the traitorous leaderships, Pinochet launched the 1988 plebiscite. But the result was a victory of the Chilean people: the “No” won and Pinochet was forced to call elections. The Concertación (Agreement) of parties for the “No”, integrated by the DC, the PS, the Party for Democracy (PPD) and the Radical Social Democratic Party (PRSD) was preparing for an orderly transition, coordinated with Pinochet, accepting his undemocratic Constitution and only proposing partial reforms. Despite its initial criticism, the PC finally called for a “No” vote and supported that policy.
The elections were won by the Concertación and Patricio Aylwin (DC) assumed the presidency in 1990. The genocide Pinochet maintained his position as head of the armed forces and in 1998 retired with the position of lifelong senator, which he maintained until his death.
The governments of the Concertación and then the New Majority (Aylwin, Frei, Lagos, Bachelet), who have been guarantors of this regime of “supervised democracy” and an ultra-neo-liberal model, took turns in power and did not hesitate to unleash the repressive force of the State against popular struggles. They did so against workers’ protests, against students and their “penguin revolution” and against the feminist actions that have confronted this regime and its “pacos” during these 30 years. The PC from coalition governments and the new Broad Front from the opposition, have been supporters of the mechanisms of this regime inherited from Pinochet.
1. A denomination that emerged in the 70’s and refers to the liberal economists educated at the University of Chicago, who have a strong influence on the Pinochet dictatorship.
2. An authoritarian political regime that totally or partially suppresses democratic freedoms. Based on the military and police apparatus, it is usually centered on an individual, is at the service of the exploiting class and stands as an arbitrator between the different sectors of society.
The Role of the Armed Forces
In 1973, the coup commanded by
Pinochet destroyed an important experience of organization and struggle of the
working class and the people. Though something similar occurred in most of the
countries in the continent, the Chilean armed forces and its commanders were
characterized by their close ties with the most concentrated sectors of the
economy and the violence they unleashed against the workers and the people. The
end of this process, though involving some convulsions, was negotiated and led
by those same elites, guaranteeing the armed forces a central role in politics
After the Massacre, a Guarantee of Impunity
The Chilean bourgeoisie and its parties played a central role in the rescue of the armed forces and their permanence as a central institution of the new regime, perhaps the main one, since the high command was not only provided with the control of the forces themselves, but also with spaces of representation in the rest of the institutions. Pinochet himself remained as head of the Army until March 10, 1998, and the next day he assumed as lifelong senator and was never tried for his crimes. The few that were convicted for the crimes of the dictatorship reside in special prisons built by the Concertación, actually retirement hotels with full freedom of internal action.
The continued brutality of the governments of the Concertación classified the files of the dictatorship, poviding minor reparations through poor reports on Truth and Justice: a framework at the service of maintaining the repressive forces of the State built under Pinochet – both in the intelligence apparatus (CNI) and in all branches of the army – intact. Some years ago, it was revealed that about 1200 CNI agents were assimilated into the army in 1990.
To complement this “supervised democracy”, the armed forces were provided with independent financing from the control and administration of a percentage of the copper and mining budget: 10% of state-owned Codelco. That scheme was modified gradually just last August.
The Guardians of the “Oasis”
This permanence of military´s central involvement in “democratic” life and the prominent role of Carabineros and its different Special Forces in the internal repression of labor conflicts, the Mapuche people and the youth explains the stability that the model enjoyed for many years. The armed forces´ repressive role was highly esteemed due to the ideological and material action of the bourgeoisie and because they had never been effectively defeated by the mass movement.
That is why it is not insignificant that during the development of the current revolutionary process, with the active participation of the army in the repression and even the conformation of the COSENA (1) to give the armed forces repressive leadership, the mobilization response remains massive and defiant, especially that of the youth that confronted the military during the state of emergency and continue to clash with the Carabineros´ Special Forces.
Precisely because of the role they have played since the dictatorship, the defeat of the armed forces has become one of the key tasks of the Chilean revolution and, to achieve this, in addition to mobilizing, it is necessary to raise the debate about the necessary self-defense in the mass organizations that begin to emerge throughout the country.
1. National Security Council.
2. To date, more than 23 people have been killed, thousands have been injured and tortured, and hundreds of protesters have suffered eye injuries from bullets or buckshot fired by the “pacos”.
The Real Chilean Model
Capitalist Inequality and Rapine
Chile was presented, until a few days ago, as one of the “stars” of the bourgeoisie and imperialism globally. Not only because of its political and economic stability, but mainly because it was founded on a brutal defeat of the labor and mass movement by the dictatorship, and continued by the “democratic” governments. The objective of these lines is to briefly expose the characteristics of this model that is now questioned in a massive and forceful way.
Pinochet and the Chicago Boys
Although the dictatorship began in 1973, it was in 1975 when a group of organic intellectuals from the Chilean elite took over the radical project of reactionary transformation of the model. The Chicago Boys, a select group of students from the Catholic University of Chile who continued their economic training at the University of Chicago to nurture the liberal orthodoxy of ideologues like Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, dictated the doctrinal guidelines.
They put themselves at the head of the country’s economic and social project due to their direct relationship to the military power of the bourgeois elite, and to their possession of a solid road map for big business. Its foundation was Chile´s high deficit and inflation. The imperialist intrusion presented its first layer of new cadres under the guise of “apolitical technocrats” to reorient the continent towards American interests: a mold of interference that began with military financing and continued with the imposition of the neoliberal laboratory.
The path of Chile´s reformulation under the dictatorship was radical in the pattern of capitalist accumulation, reconfiguring the role of the state and implementing complete financial liberalization, deregulation of the market and transferring state enterprises to private capitals. That section included tax reforms and incentives for foreign investment, dismantling the perspective of development that had prevailed in the previous decades. A true “capitalist revolution” that needed authoritarianism to constitute a subsidiary state, impose neo-liberalism and perpetuate itself under the 1980 Constitution still in effect.
“Democracy” to Continue Looting
After the general reconfiguration that the dictatorship led, a second wave of privatization came in the 90s: a process of consolidation of the model whose correlation was absolute impunity. The brutality of the pact is measured by the fact that the dictator himself continued as head of the armed forces until 1998 and was then lifelong senator.
The result of this process is the creation of one of the most unequal countries in the region and the world, in which 1% of the population concentrates 33% of the wealth, the minimum wage is 301 thousand pesos (USD 423) per month while, according to the National Statistics Institute of Chile, half of all workers receive a salary equal to or less than 400 thousand pesos (USD 562) per month. The average price of (non-generic) drugs is USD 28.5, the highest in the region according to a study by a US consultant.(1) Studying a university degree costs about USD 25,000 and access to health care about USD 50 for the simplest visits.
In the case of pensions for retired workers who contributed 30 to 35 years, 50% receive pensions of less than 296,332 pesos (USD 400): less than the minimum wage.(2)
The increase in the metro fare that triggered the rebellion meant that a worker would spend about 10% of his monthly salary just to get to and from work.
“This model, praised by all capitalists and right-wing parties for years, from the get go, destroyed all probability of industrialization of the country, which today produces practically nothing except raw materials and agricultural products, wine and industrial fishing of salmon in the south in the hands of multinationals.”(3)
This is the model that has now crashed against the popular mobilization that had already been expressed “sector by sector” with student protests, the feminist tide, the fight against the AFPs and the huge strikes of port workers and teachers. That moment has passed: the enemy has been identified by workers and the people, and they are prepared to do anything to defeat him and pave the way to a new Chile.
1. IMS Health, in BBC Mundo, News of Latin America, 10/29/19.
2. theclinic.cl, 07/30/19. According to a study by the SOL Foundation, 50% of new retirees received a self-funded pension of less than 48 thousand pesos.
3. “El derrumbe del modelo chileno”, Alternativa Socialista N° 747 (Argentina).