Chile: The first month of Boric’s administration

By Joaquín Araneda, Movimiento Anticapitalista

In the midst of a growing inflationary trend that hits the majorities, one month of Boric’s administration has passed, the proposals of the FA-PC excuse themselves in the “fiscal responsibility” for a set of focused and insufficient economic measures from the announcement of “Chile supports” and a restrictive withdrawal of the AFP in favor of the banks. The shortage and precariousness are intensifying. The youth and the working class need an emergency plan so that the crisis is not paid by those of us who live from our work. At the same time, the signals of the government overshadow the main measures promoted by its triumph, that is why in order not to open space to the right it is necessary to set up a new left-wing reference. Here is a brief overview of Boric’s 30 days and our proposals.

The “Chile supports” plan and the 5th withdrawal of the AFP with restrictions or moderation in the midst of the inflation crisis.

On Thursday, April 7, the government announced the “Chile Supports” plan, which has 6 axes and 21 measures based on an investment of US$3.7 billion to face inflation and the economic reactivation after the worst moments of the pandemic. After the announcement, the logic of “moderation” advocated by Gabriel Boric starts to become clearer, since comparatively the IFE applied last year was close to US$3 billion per month, similar to the amount spent by the current government on an annual basis with “Chile Supports.”

Among the measures that stand out is the freezing of transportation, the only measure that attempts to cushion the inflationary effects, although this proposal does not regulate the increases in other goods and services that will be adjusted to the 10% inflation forecast by the Central Bank for the year according to the March Ipom.

Even the 15% increase in the minimum wage, from $350,000 to $400,000, an increase that will be divided in two rounds, is not readjusted in real terms of the cost of living, since taking into account the indicators, the minimum wage is calculated at an increase between 4% and 5% in relation to real inflation, far from responding to a concrete measure for the current scenario.

In the same vein, the response to the demand that reactivated the student mobilizations for the increase of the food scholarship (Baes), an amount stagnant for 10 years, was a 15% readjustment, that is, from $32,000 to $36,000, meaning an extra $260 per day. A real mockery, since the government calculates $1,840 per day to eat for 20 days, a figure that is insufficient to cover the cost of food and a healthy diet. At the same time, if inflation is taken into account, the readjustment should be around 40%, considering the historical stagnation of the amount, a far cry from the amount promoted by the FA-PC government.

The rest of the measures include a plan to extend the IFE Labor until September, the creation of 500 thousand jobs (250 thousand for women), a subsidy for children up to 4 years of age (which will cost $200,000 per month for mothers and fathers who are working), and a bonus for 30 thousand women workers and cultural workers. In addition to credit benefits for SMEs and a direct injection of US$20 million to contain the rise in fuel prices.

On the other hand, the refusal of the government of the Frente Amplio and the Communist Party to prevent the advance of the 5th withdrawal of 10% of the AFPs causes a strong social unrest, since in the absence of a real economic plan to face the crisis, the withdrawal provides a direct monetary transfer for a percentage of workers, the excuse by the government to oppose the initiative is that it causes higher inflation by encouraging consumption. It is evident that this is not a measure in accordance with the interests of the majorities since it is based on the pension savings themselves that counteract the consequences of the crisis, although far from being situated in this dimension, Boric and the government present an alternative of withdrawal from the AFPs that is restricted to the use of the pension funds for the payment of alimony, in other words, it promotes a withdrawal of direct transfer to the banks, only for credit payments and not for the free disposal of the owners (the workers) of the funds in a crisis scenario. Unusual. The government’s presentation of a withdrawal bill that proposes a direct transfer from the workers’ accounts to the banks’ accounts implies an ultra-liberal measure that was not approved in the last parliamentary session either.

On the other hand, global indicators point to the continuation of the economic deterioration despite the virtual recovery after the crudest moments of the pandemic, to this is added the war in Ukraine that accentuates this feature and in our country the lack of fundamental rights that make impossible a minimum social support to the inflationary trend we are going through. This situation from Boric and Marcel’s plan has no direct relation with the daily reality of the working class, on the contrary, one day after announcing “Chile supports”, the government welcomed the business sector, where the president of the Confederation of Production and Commerce, Juan Sutil, declared that “we are interested that the country has stability” and thus gives the approval to the government’s proposal, expressing stability for entrepreneurs and complete uncertainty for those who live from our work while prices are skyrocketing.

Human rights, pacos and the WallMapu

Undoubtedly, one of the main “readjustments” applied in the first 30 days of Gabriel Boric’s government was the definition of human rights and the support given by Izkia Siches to the carabineros in the middle of the commemoration of the Day of the Young Combatant, by stating that “It is very important for us as Ministry of the Interior and as Government to be accompanying them and wishing them to be able to fulfill their functions, in a prudent manner, maintaining the unrestricted respect for human rights, but also reiterating the support of our government to each of the functions”.  In this way he gave a new impetus to an institution that after the change of command continued to harshly repress mobilizations and even shot a student in the past protests for the increase of the Baes scholarships.

This gesture to defend the repressive institution was accompanied a few days later with the denial of the term Wallmapu, also by the same Minister of the Interior, who said after the claim of an Argentine politician: “If I have caused discomfort at national or trans-Andean level, I ask for all the corresponding excuses, it has never been in my interest (…) I also discussed it with our Chancellor and I hope that this does not continue to deepen nor to be used for purposes that are not national”.

In this way the government of Apruebo Dignidad changed the focus from the “unrestricted defense of human rights” and the “reform of the carabineros”, implying a search for a right-wing base to continue with the current situation of State of Exception in Mapuche territory and the maintenance of the criminal police, the counterpart is the continuity of the political imprisonment of the political prisoners of the revolt and of WallMapu.

Constitutional process, moderation and conservative reaction

The Constitutional Convention already has a starting date, September 4, and the polls, which have been far from the political reality of the last years, although they generate media content, give a triumph to the rejection in their last polls. The internal debates of the Convention and the government point to the lack of communicational strategy and also, to the more progressive proposals that Boric himself and the representatives of the FA-PC state that they must “moderate” in order to seek agreements.

The truth is that after the installation of the new government, its axes are far from the expectations deposited in it and in that sense, a wide sector that saw at electoral level in Boric and Apruebo Dignidad the rectification of the constitutional process is distancing itself from one of the processes that derived from the rebellion in a contradictory way. Then, the “communicational errors” on the one hand respond to the moderation of expectations of the government and on the other hand, to the vacuum of the people that the Convention is experiencing, in that space the conservative reaction acts, gains ground in a framework of social polarization and is able to mobilize without any response. That is where the right wing, through fakes news and communicational offensive, acts, gains space and positions itself as a voice.

It is not the intention of this article to deal in depth with the Constitutional Convention, although the 2/3 as a supra-majority quorum agreed in the Agreement for Peace and the New Constitution echo inside the corridors of the former Congress, activating moderation to obtain transversal support, thus increasingly limiting the most progressive proposals, a factor that takes away the will for transformations and allows reaction. That is why, beyond the vote in the plebiscite of September 4, it is essential to activate from now on a proactive way out where the streets take force to guarantee the changes, especially in a scenario of economic crisis that so far the measures of the Executive do not involve a plan to counteract the social consequences in an effective way. It will be fundamental to activate a path independent from the government that will take initiative in the last months of the CC to answer in a positive way for the majorities the questions of Who will pay? Who will decide? And how will it be guaranteed? The new definition of the country according to the draft of Article 1 of the New Constitution that determines that “Chile is a social and democratic State of law. It is plurinational, intercultural and ecological”, while initiatives such as the nationalization of large mining companies that plunder and loot our territory are stalled.

Retake initiative, a plan for the majorities and a political alternative to promote it.

The stage we are going through is crossed by the expectations of changes and the limits expressed by the government, at the same time, the deep economic crisis points to a deepening of the high cost of living that we are already living. To retake the streets and face the situation is a challenge of the present, promoting a plan for the majorities and building a unitary and broad space that presents itself as an alternative on the left in the polarization. That is why we propose a plan b, of the 99% so that the capitalists pay for the crisis:

– Confront inflation with an immediate price freeze, price control by a committee of workers and villagers.

– Wage increase according to the cost of living and inflation, not less than $650,000.

– Universal IFE to face the massive destruction of employment for all unemployed, without conditions.

– #NoMasAFP. Demand the fifth retirement as an emergency measure without restrictions, advance in a system that guarantees pensions according to the cost of living, $650,000 and a real social security.

– Against unemployment, reduce and distribute working hours without salary reduction. Prohibit layoffs and suspensions and, if a company defaults, nationalize it under workers’ control.

– No more crumbs for students, immediate increase of food scholarships and expansion for all, not less than $100,000, readjustable to real inflation.

– An end to CAE, cancellation of all student debt.

– No more impunity, disbanding of the police, freedom for all political prisoners of the rebellion and WallMapu. Prosecution of Piñera and the human rights violators of yesterday and today.

– For free and universal health, transportation, housing and education.

– Nationalization under the control of workers and mining communities.

– Against male violence and femicides, emergency budget for free comprehensive assistance, shelters and subsidies to women, with control of feminist organizations.

– Comprehensive sex education, with a gender and sexual diversity perspective. Free public health system.

– Legal, safe and free abortion in the health system without any restrictions. Free contraception.

– Stop the water crisis, water for life, not for mega-mining. Transition plan to abandon extractivism, under social control, from the current productive and energy model to another based on clean and renewable energies.

– Derogation of the water code, rights of nature, nationalization of water and all common goods under social control.

– That the crisis be paid by the capitalists, that fundamental and basic rights be financed by taxing the super rich.

With these proposals we are ready to dialogue with all those who share them, promoting a new political, independent and anti-capitalist reference so that the spirit of change is not diluted and ends up opening ground for the right wing. Our disposition is to generate spaces of unitary coordination as we have been developing together with the political and social organizations for the dissolution of the carabineros, at the same time promoting a dialogue to build in a broad way an alternative that will stand politically under a program so that the capitalists pay for the crisis. In this perspective we are from the Movimiento Anticapitalista, we invite you to strengthen these ideas together with us. Join us.