Interview by Ivo Fierro, Secretary of the Putaendo honorary workers union, member of the Mirna Humeres Command (D6), and Movimiento Anticapitalista militant.
We are just days away from the elections to the Constitutional Convention (CC). In a campaign crossed by the pandemic and the inequalities imposed by the regime, Movimiento Anticapitalista and the independent command promoted the candidacies of Maura and Camilo for districts 12 and 10 so that the voice of the streets can be heard denouncing the pacts and raising a new political alternative. We spoke with both of them to learn how the campaign has developed and what remains for the next few days.
Ivo Fierro: Despite all the obstacles imposed by the regime and the conditions derived from the pandemic (with poor management by the government), thousands of signatures were collected for your candidacies and then an important campaign was carried out. What explains this?
Camilo Parada: First of all, I think it has to do with the fact that a very important political change has taken place in the country, a new stage began in October 2019. After years of more or less partial expressions of struggle – some of them very important and massive, such as the student struggles, the huge movement against the AFPs, the great rise of the feminist movement or emblematic workers’ struggles such as the port workers – in October 2019 we experienced a generalized explosion of the capitalist model in its Chilean version, imposed by blood and fire during the dictatorship and maintained by successive elected governments of the Concertación (and its variants) and the right wing. That is what the slogan “It´s not 30 pesos, it´s 30 years” reflects: the impossibility of continuing to support a model that left us without healthcare, without education, with miserable pensions, without labor or social rights, with a profound deterioration of our common goods, the plunder of water, with the destruction of the environment with extractive policies and, as if all this were not enough, it repressed us every time we tried to question it.
These struggles that converged in Plaza Dignidad and in many plazas throughout the country came to say that the social majorities for years postponed have become protagonists of the future. Let’s not forget that it was thanks to this struggle that lasted several weeks that the possibility of discussing constitutional change was opened.
We noticed this from the beginning while gathering sponsorships for the candidacies and it is also present in the campaign, not only in the one we are carrying out, but even in those of many candidacies that are far from wanting to generate deep transformations but use slogans and phrases in that sense to “sell” their candidacies.
Maura Fajardo: As Camilo says, there is a new stage, a moment in which it is clear that the right wing is the most questioned sector, but also most of the parties of the “30 years” are strongly questioned. The Piñera government is a political corpse supported by all the parties because letting it go would deepen the crisis and no sector of the regime wants that. But, as has been reflected in recent weeks, we are witnessing its final hours. The arrival of the pandemic, the brutal repression he unleashed and the pact he signed with the parliamentary opposition saved Piñera from falling before the end of his term, but it is most likely that this sector will be widely defeated in the next elections.
In this context, Movimiento Anticapitalista proposed to intervene with force in the process of the CC to set up a new political reference, our independent anticapitalist candidacies are at the service of that objective, since it has been shown that it is not enough for the government to change from right to center left, we need to end the capitalist model and for this we need a solid and majority-reaching platform. Able to raise the program of the streets and not abandon it at the doors of the institutions, but quite the opposite, to advance in organization so that it can prevail. This was what we developed in the campaign for sponsorships first and in the campaign itself that we have been carrying out for months with a huge effort. We believe that we managed to introduce a series of ideas in debate, we made progress in organization and, although there is still a long way to go, we believe that a part of this will be reflected in votes.
I.F: Due to the electoral system and the enormous difference in the resources devoted to the campaign, it is very difficult to obtain a place in the CC. What is the point of running a campaign then?
CP: We think that participating in the public debate defending the program of the streets and proposing an anti-capitalist solution to the crisis is the best way to dialogue with thousands of young men and women who gained momentum in the rebellion and are looking for a political reference that is not part of the old regime. Voting for our candidacies is much more than a fight for an institutional space, it is to strengthen a proposal that does not sign agreements with the right, that does not hesitate to defend the popular mobilization as a fundamental engine of the necessary transformations, that seeks organized mobilization taking in its hands the realization of the changes we need.
There are those who brand us as utopians because of this, generally the same sectors that speak of what is “possible” and do not leave the political “kitchen” of the 30-year regime, sectors that are functional to the system. Without going any further, there are those who defended the model of Pablo Iglesias, who resigned from politics a few days ago, or the “all against the right” of the Latin American “progressives” that have co-governed with the IMF and deepened extractivism in the continent to unprescedented levels, leaving huge territories without water.
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Faced with this, our campaign proposes making what is necessary possible, recovering our common goods, dissolving criminal institutions such as carabineros, we need to get out of the logic of impunity, maintained poth political wings, guarantee a single, public, free and quality health system, and the same with education. That is to say, we believe that what is utopian is to continue living in a model that has pushed the great majorities in our country, the continent and the world into misery, that destroys nature; utopian is to say that this cannot be changed by denying the history of our people´s struggles. If they could, we can.
M.F: I subscribe to what Camilo says and I would like to add that if there is a historically relegated sector in our country and particularly in recent years, that is the working class. The pandemic has deepened this to critical levels. Today thousands and thousands of workers are unemployed, with enormous levels of debt and no future prospects. Working women in particular see the full weight of the crisis falling on their shoulders, with strenuous working hours that not only do not end when they arrive home, but also multiply without recognition. Another scourge has to do with violence, which continues to grow in the context of the general deterioration of living conditions in the context of patriarchal capitalism.
Our campaign also aims to point out that without advancing thoroughly against the structure of capitalism in our country, it will be impossible to give positive responses to all the demands of the majorities, therefore, we also see the debates with the sectors that speak of feminism as a fundamental issue, of radical changes and transformation, but refuse to put forward proposals that question the model. It is an ongoing process that does not end with the next election and the campaign has been a great boost to develop it. In any case, as I said before, we bet on this effort also having an expression in votes and organization, we know that it is difficult, but we are here to stay.
I.F: After the suspension of these elections, they will finally take place next weekend, what do you think about the final days of the campaign and what comes next?
Maura: Of course, first of all it is important to point out that this government has not guaranteed in the least measures that can alleviate the impact of the pandemic, both at the health and social level, therefore the elections will be held in a very complex scenario. Without going any further, the time and possibilities for campaigning in squares, fairs and different spaces have been greatly reduced. With all the care, we carried out many of these activities and we intend to continue carrying them out these last days that we have ahead of us. At the exit of the subway, in the squares of both districts, campaigning with the comrades who joined us from the independent command and gathering the solidarity and the support of workers, residents and young people. We made a flyer with our program and our proposals and we are also deploying various initiatives on social networks and participating in different forums and conversations to which we have been invited.
Along with this we have promoted and participate in solidarity initiatives with the people of Colombia who are leading a rebellion against the criminal Duque government, very similar to the process opened here in Chile in 2019, we are also supporting the femicide case of Lissette’s Ramos Vásquez, murdered on the street in broad daylight by someone who claimed to love her in 2017, since the trial against the femicide will take place on May 12 and we know that only by making our voice heard can we twist the hand of patriarchal justice.
Next Thursday the 13th at 9:00 p.m. we will carry out a closing rally of the common campaign of both candidacies with the participation of artists and comrades who have supported the candidacies.
C.P: As Maura says, we have a lot of campaign activities ahead of us and we expect the best result for the elections next weekend. At the same time, we consider it as one more step on the road to setting up a new, anti-capitalist political reference, because as we have already said, the “30 years” model is no longer valid and it is necessary to build something new. A feminist and dissident force that gathers the strength of women and youth who break with the old structures and fight to win more democratic and social rights. An ecosocialist force, because we are committed to building a new model where rights for workers are not achieved at the cost of the destruction of nature, the depredation of common goods, pollution and plendering. An internationalist force that helps us organize the common struggle that the majority throughout the continent and the world are putting up, as shown by the struggle they are waging in Colombia.
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We are going to fight until the last vote for these ideas and concepts and, of course, what comes next is to transform that force into a collective organization in the strengthening of Movimiento Anticapitalista. A force that will be available to advance in a great unity of the left that stands for deep transformations, of the social and labor movements that allows us to fight for a government of those who have never governed, the workers. Because we cannot forget that together with the constituent convention, the fundamental fight is to end the criminal government of Piñera and transform everything, as we have been pointing out in our campaign. It is about building a new left, about fighting for an alternative radically committed to the necessary changes, from below, with rebellion and without shaking hands with human rights violators. It is a task for everyone and the doors of Movimiento Anticapitalista are open for all people who want a country where workers, social majorities and socio-environmental rights are at the center of our policy.