Chile: Carrots, clubs, excuses and decisions in the new cabinet

zanahorias, garrotes, excusas y definiciones

After days of press “leaks”, various gossips and frictions in the parties of Apruebo Dignidad and its “new” allies, finally Boric presented his government team in front of the National Museum of Natural History in Quinta Normal. A formulation, according to Boric himself, “so that the elites lose their fear of his project” even if they do not agree on everything. We analyze here what the new government is showing and rehearse a proposal.

By Joaquín Araneda and Martín Miranda

After years and years of the same faces, politics was assaulted by new faces and coalitions. New forces, still unconsolidated, live in the Constitutional Convention and on the streets, and polarization was the protagonist in the last months with the irruption of Kast and the hard beating in the second round by the people, using the candidacy of Gabriel Boric as a tool and with a marked anti-Pinochet vote.

It is evident that many things have changed and will continue to change, as it is also evident that there are many things that remain the same and it is necessary to analyze reality beyond expectations and desires, appealing to the objectivity of those of us who left everything in the streets to change the Chile of the 30 years and are still engaged in that fight.

Carrots and sticks

Beyond the names, it is fundamental to be clear that the government of Gabriel Boric has launched a new coalition, which far from turning to the “left” has moved to the political center, insisting with forces and characters that have received popular condemnation in all the last electoral processes. At the moment of “widening the support base” of the government, they did not look for a greater participation of the social movements, of the popular forces, of the expressions that emerged after October. On the contrary, key parts of the new government structure come from the conservative forces, particularly in the economic field (engine of the rest of the gears). The incorporation of the PS with 4 ministries and other forces such as the PPD or the Radical Party (a scenario that takes us back to the discussions of failed pre-electoral fronts) is clearly a message to the economic powers of the country, a “here we do not come with red fevers” as the elected President declared to La Tercera.

This new configuration of the government coalition, then, starts from a fact that marks its origin, those who were pointed out in the streets as responsible for the disaster of the last 30 years, received electoral punishment and condemnation, but now return again to have in their hands nothing more and nothing less than the economic agenda, to begin with. At the very least it is undemocratic and an open mockery of the will of the people.

Just as an example of the above, Boric stated about the future Minister of Finance: “(…) I believe that in the case of Mario Marcel in particular, he has a trajectory and experience in the State, in the budget department, in the Central Bank and also abroad, in the World Bank, in the OECD, and that trajectory is unquestionable”.

His experience and trajectory is not only unquestionable, but a life of service under the wing of national and international economic powers, responsible for the catastrophe of our country and the region, should be strongly questioned and condemned, this is not the “experience” that will lead us to the end of the AFPs, this is not the experience that aims at free education and that it is once and for all, considered as an absolute right and not a market good (as this same ruling class shouted in the streets in 2011), to the improvement of the quality of life of the majorities. Although it is also evident the message generated by the future government in adding a neoliberal to the Treasury, coherent with a perspective that Ricardo Ffrench-Davis, Boric’s economic advisor, had already stated: “Closing the AFPs today would be foolish”. In other words, what is “rational” for the next government is to maintain a line of continuity, the rest is “nonsense”, the pillars of the neoliberal model imposed during the dictatorship, under this concept, will not be touched.

This is so clear that Boric himself points out: “I hope we can agree as a society, in the sense that there are long term goals that will not see results before the next elections and that, therefore, many of the decisions we make cannot be mediated by electoral anxiety and that there are fruits that I will not have to cut the ribbon” (idem 1). (idem 1)

With those who negotiate with our pension money, plunder our common goods, systematically violate human, social, cultural and environmental rights, and have done everything at the service of a privileged elite to the detriment of millions? It is difficult to reach an agreement, previous experiences in this regard, not only in Chile but throughout the continent (we could say throughout the world) indicate that there is no possible dialogue with the owners of everything that does not end in growing misery for the majorities.

Taking into account this reality, these declarations, the “progressive” of the new cabinet becomes before our eyes like an enormous “carrot”, a device that pretends to reflect the enormous changes of reality but not to give them impulse, but to annul them, to disarticulate them, to strip them of their content and to preserve their shiny shell. There are 14 women out of 10 men, illustrious relatives, academic titles that will clutter the walls of official offices, shines that amass illusion and promise disappointments.

In that sense, without showing off the whole cabinet, we can review some of the next ministries that have been in the publicity of Apruebo Dignidad. In education there will be the sexual dissident teacher and militant of RD, Antonio Avila, that the press and the sectors related to the FA-PC spread as an image of change, since unlike old cabinets, where the profession was far from the position, they waved “a teacher minister”, although it is also shown that it is not enough to have the title and hold the portfolio, as already exemplified by the DC Yasna Provoste and Mariana Aylwin, figures of the dismantling of public education in the hands of the Concertación. The important thing is to look at the political trajectory and in this case, the RD militant was the National Coordinator of Secondary Education under the Bachelet government and also worked in Educar Chile, a space linked to the State and the private entity Fundación Chile, main promoter of educational segregation in the country, whose partners are the transnational mining company BHP Billiton, which plunders and plunders the territory. These foundations are now promoting a popular initiative in the CC that maintains private financing in education, similar to the current situation.

Similar media perspective in the hands of the propaganda of “progressivism” was with the majority of women that the cabinet will have, a fact that undoubtedly shows a difference with the previous ones, although with the limitations of the project of continuity of “as far as possible”. Thus we can see the list that begins with the PS Maya Fernández in Defense; continues with Antonia Urrejola, close to the PS and former secretary of Insulza in the pro-imperialist organization of the OAS; the pediatrician and manager of the private Santa María Clinic, María Begona Yarza, who was part of the South Metropolitan Health Service, appointed by the government of Piñera, a place that confronted the health workers who today denounce her for the privatizing agenda that she commanded; In Social Development and Family we have the Minister Jeanette Vega of the PPD, whose trajectory maintains the case of corruption in the ISP during 2002; in Sports we have Alexandra Benado, soccer player, sexual dissident and linked to human rights, who also adds in her curriculum in a negative way the accusations for labor abuse of workers of the memory space Londres 38. The response to the feminist movement by Apruebo Dignidad came hand in hand with the arrival of the Concertación, who supported with characters such as Carlos Montes or the aforementioned neoliberal, Mario Marcel.

On the other hand, the faces of the student movement of 2011 will be part of the cabinet with Giorgio Jackson (RD) in the Ministry General Secretariat of the Government, as well as Camila Vallejos of the PC. The Communist Party will also be represented in the Ministry of Labor by Jeannette Jara.

Younger or more colorful faces, as the press has called them, mark the image of the cabinet, although with a political trajectory that began with the “30 years”, that is why a synthesis of such perspective was expressed by the future Minister of the Interior and Public Security and former president of the Medical Association, Izkia Siches, when declaring that: “As the new Minister of the Interior, it will be up to me to guarantee peace. I want to call on all social organizations. This program is deeply transforming, it will be good for Chile. It will be looking at the people who have been left behind, but we also need to guarantee [peace] (…) I do not want to fall into the cliché phrase of playing into the hands of the right wing, but obviously they make us fragile (…) The damage to public order, the damage to real estate, what has happened to the SMEs in zone zero is something that worries me”. In other words, carrots and sticks to define the future of the government.

Excuses and definitions

We will not waste much time with the excuses, which have been the central engine of the constitution of Boric’s government, which is “what is possible” but the most phenomenal excuse to paint the conservative as avant-garde, an imaginary but powerful line that is relentlessly propagandized “more is not possible”. 

More interesting, at least for those of us who live and struggle to make possible what is necessary, are the definitions of Boric himself and his entourage. Let us review them

1. New government coalition shifted to the center with liquefaction of the “left” wing and strengthening of the “ex-concertacionista” sectors.

2. “On the one hand, that the elites stop being afraid of us. I do not expect them to agree with me, but I do expect them to stop being afraid of us”, Boric stated to La Tercera and reflects, together with the above, his willingness to reassure the owners of Chile.

3. “The challenge we have as a government is to generate a new order” The proposal aims at rebuilding the “rule of law” in his own words, although knowing that it will not be possible to achieve “all the changes” a new order within the framework of capital.

These three definitions, the trajectory of the FA itself and its allies and the national and international context imply a contradiction that cannot be resolved with declarations. Every day more and more in the world, and it is clear that Chile is not an oasis, the tendency is for the powerful to cling to their privileges, and for freedoms and rights to be cut. Without going fully against that, strengthening the transforming forces, the spaces of mass decision, dismantling the State at the service of capital to give way not only to new forms, but a new content of social format, supported by the needs and decisions of the majorities precisely against the privileges of the minority, the process ends in failures and opens the way to disappointment.

This is, at least, our view. We know that this experience will be made in the streets and it is not enough to raise them, it will be a process that will require the reconstruction of the forces of the streets, the construction of a program and an organization to not be passive spectators of the experience, a path that must bet on jumping over the walls of the Constitutional Convention and add popular participation to ensure changes, the limits of the next government are beginning to be managed, in parallel there is a development of Popular Initiatives that must overcome parliamentary obstacles in the CC, which still and unfortunately, are not called to surround in large unified campaigns so that the proposals of the streets advance and do not end up being delegated the desire for change in a make-up of the old. For this reason, in addition to analyzing, we propose:

An independent political tool to act in the new reality

Expectations in the future government are still high, we respect those who, not only in the country but also in the region, are hopeful with the “progressive” signals of the government, but we do not share the course that is on the horizon. From our force we called to vote against Kast to stop the impulse of the decadent right wing, aware that the road was far from ending at that point.

The new moment imposes the construction of a pole from the consistent, grassroots left, with strong participation of the youth, the workers, the settlers, the feminist, socio-environmental and territorial movement. A force that knows how to fight for rights, confront the right wing and not delegate forces to false illusions. A path that can already begin to be constituted by adding social and political participation and promoting the program that was expressed in the rebellion that starts with the freedom of political prisoners; the trial of those politically responsible for yesterday and today’s human rights violations; the dissolution of the police; the end of the AFP; the recovery of all our common goods starting with water, copper and lithium under social control; for state, free, feminist, and quality health and education; for the whole integral agenda of the feminist movement; and for another democracy, of the peoples and the working class, without political-corporate castes, so that those who have never governed finally govern.

The new Chile for which we won the streets in October 2019 will not come quietly from the corridors of La Moneda, it will be fought for in every corner in the coming months and there we bet to find ourselves strengthening an alternative to transform everything.

Join us in the Anticapitalist Movement to make possible what is necessary.