21/10/2019 by socialistfight
By Viriato Lusitania
As in Ecuador, price increases, particularly the increase in the price of Metro tickets, caused an explosion of anger that developed into a powder trail in several cities in Chile.
The government, after having decreed the “State of Emergency”, taken the military out on the streets for the first time after the dictatorship and introduced a curfew between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., has just postponed and “suspended” the increases.
The “Protests” began with the action of secondary students, a fringe that has been very mobilised for years against the iniquitous school system that has been in place since the Dictatorship and that has never been touched by “democratic” governments.
They occupied the Metro stations and forced the barriers and let people pass without paying, emphasizing the slogan “escape”, i.e., not paying the locomotion fees.
This motto spread like wildfire and everywhere the usual people began to put it into practice spontaneously and to attack the Metro’s facilities.
The government responded by leaving the control of the bombing repression to the Carabineros’ military police to call the armed forces and introduce the curfew, which was challenged from the beginning and, in conjunction with the rejection of all price increases, only amplified the movement in the provinces.
Thus, the movement developed in one day from the centre of Santiago to the whole city of 6 million inhabitants and immediately to Concepcion, Valparaiso, (the other two cities with more than one million inhabitants) Antofagasta, Temuco and other cities of the country.
The spark set fire to a meadow where the grass was too dry.
Faced with this situation which, despite the statements of the senior military leaders, did not impress the population who challenged them and continued the movement.
An excerpt from the newspaper “La Izquierda” gives an idea of the ambiance: the article, part of it, is entitled “Chile en llamas, un enorme desacato al toque de queda” (Chile in fire, enormous non-obedience to the curfew):
“General Javier Iturrieta then decreed a curfew in Santiago from 22:00 hrs. Today was a full day of pots and pans clacking and protests. And it didn’t end with the curfew.
The barricades were maintained in thousands of corners of the city. There were also massive pots and pans in places like Plaza Ñuñoa and Grecia con Salvador, in open contempt of curfew.
Regions responded in repudiation of the curfew in Santiago, and there were massive mobilizations throughout the country, with barricades and confrontations with the police. The government decreed a state of emergency in Valparaíso and Concepción to declare a curfew.
The fires in public buildings and hated companies increased. In Talca they set fire to Talca’s Banco de Chile, a symbol against Piñera. In Valparaíso they burned El Mercurio de Valparaíso, a hated right wing paper. “El Mercurio no longer lies”, it was virilised by nets. They also reported the fire in the municipality of Quilpué.
In Iquique, demonstrators took out an old war cannon that would belong to the Granaderos Regiment, located on Arturo Prat Avenue. There were also attacks to police stations and burned checkpoints.
At this time, the videos and images of the brutality of the repression begin to multiply. Including military gunfire, beating of demonstrators, shooting of pellets.
New night of fury. The Popular Rebellion Continues
On the other day, the government fearing an uncontrollable insurrection, by “suspending” the decree of house of the Metro ticket and “forming a Commission” (the old tactic of all governments to impose its will on workers and the population in general).
But no one is fooled by this and there is a good chance that the situation will develop further because Pandora’s box has been opened, the population no longer fears the military and hates them having very vivid memories of Pinochet’s time.
The times of revolt are already a reality. All over the world, and since the Yellow Vests and even before, the masses have been taking spontaneously to the streets in semi-insurrections, out of the sell-outs, traditional, unions and political parties.
Alas without own political conduction but with a very clear awareness of their interests and solutions. The need for a strong political organization is becoming even more of a pressing necessity.
The photo with the PTR’s statement on the “La Izquierda” net-paper Chile 2
The PCCH chief dirigent public statement
“If he (president Pinera) is resigning to govern, because to govern means to accept the demands of the citizens and to hide behind the military, if he does not have the capacity to govern, the best thing would be for him to resign and call new elections now,” said chief PC, Guillermo Teillier.
“To hide behind the military” is just a pearl that shows all the policy of the PCCH: a Chavez alternative.
The political social democratic front they are has stated that “they are with the people”.
Some MP that comes from the “penguin’s student” revolt” are on the streets denouncing the military.
Every minute is getting hotter… Here some photos 20 October
There are some dead people in fires of supermarkets. Some other dead not yet confirmed. This is falling on the head of Pinera, the President, as the comment tell.
Poor people attack supermarkets that in Chile take prime prices and are out of reach for the poorest.
There are shootings reported in province cities, but it is not clear coming from whom.
From here it seems a Government totally at lost and the armed chiefs not wanting still to fire on the population. Political conditions for that are not gathered at all and it could go no one knows where.
The Santiago airport is not working and there are calls to stop the country next week against the militaries.
The speakers of the government are saying “the more the “looting” goes on the more the militaries will stay on the streets” implying that they are willing to pull them back asap.
This because clear political reason and foremost is to avoid that the long work trying to better the military image goes bankrupt. The population is now very sensitive to this question, totally different that in the 7à’s when they look the armed forces as “the people with uniforms” as Allende said.
now they are Pinochet’s image and legacy that are abhorred by 95% of the people.
More this evening, because it is hard to follow so a lightning changing situation.
A video in the port of Valparaiso.
The paper is just another social democrat very soft even on this. But shows that a very large layer of the population, press also, are not willing at all to accept the military again.
Even paper’s as La Tercera, a right wing paper posing as “neutral” publishes articles and photos that are not in quite the government position. This could change very quickly as things get better (worse for them) but today it is as it is.
The Spark Ignited the Flame: Revolutionary Days, Checked Government and the Breakdown of the “Consensus”.
By Pablo Torres and Juan Valenzuela
As we close this article, the revolt set afire by massive evasions in the subway against a new rise of it price, became a real popular rebellion that has put the right-wing government of Sebastián Piñera in check and has left wounded the Chilean regime and the consensus of the “democratic transition”. The class struggle returns to the scene and in a violent way.
A True Popular Rebellion
Organized since the beginning of the week by multiple groups of secondary school students, especially from emblematic high schools such as the National Institute, who had been suffering brutal repression in previous months, the “evasions” (to pass through the payment controls) and concentrations in stations, the sit-ins on the subway platforms and the open up of the control passages, won the sympathy of millions of workers and popular sectors, who saw in this youth an example of decision and who expressed their feelings and discomfort with Chile and its inheritance from the dictatorship.
Friday was transformed directly into a social revolt against the government. It began with massive protests all day long occupying subway stations. The brutal repression against young people, women, old people, girls and boys, became massified and gave way to confrontations in more than 70 stations. The government’s closure of almost all subway lines led to chaos in Santiago, with the city’s main arteries blocked and the subway system not functioning as a result of the demonstrations. The strategy sought to repress the youth vanguard and at the same time turn the population against them, accusing them of being “vandals” and “organized groups” who had left a “chaos” in the city. But far from it, it ignited the prairie more. As the columnist Ascanio Cavallo correctly points out, “the Santiagazo has overflowed everything. The facts suggest that when the Metro lines were affected, the nervous system was touched, not of the city, but of the entire social body”.
The sympathy expressed in social networks became widespread discontent and, in the evening, after Piñera’s announcement to apply the dictatorship’s “law of internal security of the State”, all of Santiago rebelled, not only in the capital and in the outskirts of La Moneda, with pots and pans and barricades in most of the peripheral communes where popular anger exploded. In the commune of Maipú there was a real “battle” that forced the police to retreat, and so on in many other peripheral communes. Private company buildings, subway stations and public places were set on fire, and the carabineros (police organized militarly) were completely overwhelmed.
Piñera, who received massive repudiation for his attendance at a pizzeria for a family birthday in the midst of the revolt, decided at midnight to impose the “constitutional state of emergency” that placed the metropolitan region in command of the military, an authoritarian measure unprecedented in democracy and that brought back the imaginary of dictatorship measures. Nevertheless, it was like benzine in the bonfire, it was passed from the relation of forces and the revolt was transformed into popular rebellion on Saturday. All over Santiago hundreds of thousands came out in rallies, pots and pans, barricades and confrontations with the police and in some cases with the military, in an open challenge that put the government and the state of emergency itself in check. The videos of demonstrators shouting at the military with a morality that has not been seen for decades, viralized everywhere.
And beyond that, the “Santiagazo” became a national popular rebellion in all regions of the country. From large urban concentrations such as Valparaíso, Concepción or Antofagasta, solidarity against the state of emergency in Santiago nationalized the conflict to the most remote, small and remote localities, in some cases with enormous popular hatred. The whole country rebelled and exploited a social hatred as an expression of a deep social malaise of the “jaguar” or “oasis” of Latin America.
In an attempt to contain the escalation of the uprising, while Piñera announced the “suspension” of the tariff hike, the General in charge of the state of emergency announced the curfew, a measure not used since 1987 in military dictatorship. However, since the 22:00 hours that began to rule, was challenged with barricades, pots and pans, and above all a wave of anger, with dozens of buses burned, looting in hundreds of large commercial establishments such as Walmart, burning police booths and checkpoints, burning public establishments such as the municipality of Quilpué. “Symbols of power” such as the El Mercurio building in Valparaíso (historical newspaper of the Chilean reaction) was set on fire.
The government’s response has been to extend the state of emergency with military command in Valparaíso, Concepción, Coquimbo, Serena and Rancagua, with a curfew in Valparaíso, and several deaths in Santiago.
The older generations, workers, retired women, women who came to ask for an appointment at the doctor’s offices, and so on, show sympathy. “The rise did not touch the student’s bus fees, but there are the young people fighting for us”: that has been the general feeling. But not to remain watching from the TV box, but to accompany this struggle in the streets. The secondary youth has been a constant “cancer” of the Chilean regime that inherited pinochetism, as was shown by the “penguin rebellion” of 2006, then the massive struggle of 2011. The government and the regime told them to “gather hatred,” and hatred accumulated, and passed it on to a whole country of discontent. “Thanks to the young people for making us lose our fear,” was heard in old generations.
It is no longer a question of the rise of the Metro ticket but of a profound social malaise due to the legacies of the dictatorship that are still alive, in salaries and pensions of hunger, precarious jobs, high prices, indebtedness, and so on.
“People go to the doctor’s offices early to make social life”, “if they get up early to take locomotion, they will be able to save money”, “nobody claims when the tomatoes go up”: these were some of the phrases of a government at the service of the capitalists completely disconnected from the realities of the working people, and that lit the flame.
It is a spontaneous uprising that continues to escalate, without any political organization and without the most important organizations of the masses – trade unions or students – having taken the lead. For now, on the contrary, although they pronounce themselves in favor, they continue to look from afar. These are revolutionary days in which the government, the Carabineros and the army are identified as enemies, as well as various institutions of the regime, whose basis is social unrest and which has wounded the “social pact” of the transition to democracy. The fires, pots and pans, barricades, confrontations and looting, constitute an elementary expression of this hatred that has poured into the streets.
A situation with pre-revolutionary features and the deep wound of the “neoliberal consensus”.
Piñera took the military out into the streets and imposed a state of emergency with curfews for the “serious disturbance of public order. This is a leap in the “bonapartization” of the regime: its support, at this moment, is the military and police apparatus. As an editorial in El Mercurio says today, the “minimum consensus” of the transition to democracy was undermined: “the rule of law and the consequent respect for a framework of rules whose validity is recognized, independently of the legitimate right to disagree with them and want to make reforms within the framework of legality. The social pact of the “agreed transition” is broken, which is not the same thing that is going to fall necessarily, for which objectives and an adequate strategy are required.
The use of the army sought not only to repress when the police were overwhelmed, but also to frighten the population with the historic “the military comes back” and thus avoid the activation of the main reserves of the working class and the student movement and a scenario that calls into question their power. The forces of the working class, which have intervened in this rebellion but for now “diluted” in the masses and not with their organizations and methods of strike and mobilization, are strategic for a new leap in the situation and it is what the government seeks to prevent. The trade union bureaucracies and the parties of the reformist left refuse to call for an open and generalized struggle against the government, and act as a force of “containment” so that the situation becomes revolutionary.
This uprising is ongoing and open wherever it goes. The Port Union called to prepare the general strike, and during this Sunday there will be a series of assemblies and student plenary sessions. For tomorrow a “National Strike” is called by Confech (an organization of university students) and by organizations of secondary students and high schools. Different sectors of workers call and demand the “Paro” or “Huelga” (Strike). On Monday they threaten to ignite the struggle again, and that central battalions of the working class could enter, which would give a new course to the rebellion, as well as the youth in their high schools, colleges and universities. For the same reason, the government decreed the “suspension” of classes that seeks to get people off the streets in a virtually paralyzed country.
It is no longer just a question of the rise but of a struggle that threatens to take away a government that is literally “suspended” in the air, and seeks to reaffirm itself with the military or with the bourgeois “opposition” of the former Concertación. It is proposed that the working class intervene, that the movement be structured in workplaces, schools and universities, and that the general strike be developed that puts the defeat of the state of emergency and the fall of the government in the foreground, so that it takes a revolutionary course. There is a willingness to fight. The discussion that is opening now is what is the strategy to win.
Institutional way or revolutionary way?
The former New Majority (mild center-left opposition) has played a role favorable to Piñera’s government. First, key figures, such as José Miguel Insulza, repudiated evasions and supported police repression. After the state of emergency, they distanced themselves from the measure. However, yesterday, after the suspension of the hike while the curfew was installed in Santiago and then the state of emergency in Concepción and Valparaíso with a curfew in the latter city, the PPD, PS, PR and DC, all parties of the old Concertación and of the “transition” pact with the genocidaires, made a new turn accepting the “dialogue” with the government, and today they will meet with Piñera in La Moneda to find a way out of the rebellion. Regrettable was the right-wing position of RD Congressman Pablo Vidal, who, standing next to the government, went out to criminalize the protests for “violent”.
In doing so, they merely repeat their historical role of positioning themselves as “false friends of the people” to be the support of the regime that inherited the dictatorship. In this moment of a checkered government and an ongoing popular rebellion that has become national and continues in crescendo, they play the miserable role of being the support of a government that is isolated. However, “neoliberal” progressism is no longer what it used to be, and popular rejection reaches its main figures and parties, in frank decline.
The Communist Party and the Large Front (Frente Amplio), which have been gaining a lot of weight in the situation as a result of their social reformist agenda, quickly sought to place themselves on the side of the protests with passive support. Then, they called on the government to “listen” to the people, to cease repression and to “dialogue”. After the decree of the state of emergency with Piñera’s call for dialogue, they distanced themselves from this call, denounced the militarization and conditioned the dialogue at the end of the state of emergency. Both organizations yesterday joined the protests with their main referents, and even the mayor of Recoleta Daniel Jadue (PC) and the deputy Gabriel Boric (FA= Large Front) starred “rebuked” the military by telling them “outside”.
While tactically they condition the dialogue to the end of the state of emergency, strategically their exit is an “institutional way”, that is, through the old institutions of the old regime. In the case of the PC, as its president, Guillermo Teillier, pointed out: “If he is resigning to govern, because to govern means to accept the demands of the citizens and to hide behind the military, if he does not have the capacity to govern, it would be better if he resigned and called for new elections now. In the case of Beatriz Sánchez of the FA, she pointed out: “The government renounced democracy (…) the country today is asking us for a definition (…). As FA we say: we are clearly with the people”.
While the location of refusing to engage in dialogue with the government is correct in maintaining the state of emergency, it is a “minimal” position of someone on the left. But in this moment it is not a question of going after the facts and passively supporting them, but of providing them with superior objectives and a method and strategy that allows this rebellion to be transformed into a revolutionary mobilization to defeat the government and the political and social regime as a whole.
We are talking about a “passive support” and an “institutional” solution since they have a great political-parliamentary weight, with about 30 parliamentarians between the PC and the FA and mayors recognized as Jorge Sharp in Valparaíso, as well as their leading weight in the main mass organizations such as the Central Única de Trabajadores, No+AFP, the Colegio de Profesores, the miners and health, to name just a few examples, they are looking around the gallery without contributing to the fact that between the working class in an organized way to the battle with their strategic positions and the “reserves” of millions of workers, most of whom are disorganized (without unions or centers) and intervene in the rebellion but diluted and without their methods of combat.
The PC and the FA, which could play a central role in developing the situation in a revolutionary sense and which puts the perspective of the fall of government and regime into perspective, are not looking for this, but rather to “contain” precisely this higher challenge. While they talk about supporting and watching from the gallery with the mass organizations, they refuse to call for a strike and even less for a General Strike to defeat the state of emergency and the corporate government.
The institutional (or eventually electoralist, path of “early elections”) to “solve” social problems is completely impotent. It will not be this regime that will put an end to the increases, the pensions and starvation wages, the precarious jobs, the high rents, and the multiple inheritances that are at the base of social unrest. It will not be with any “social pact” or parliamentary dialogue that we will have better salaries and pensions, stable work, health and public education, etc. It will be through general strike and mobilization, with the working class intervening and on the ruins of this regime, that we will be able to conquer our aspirations and yearnings. However, it is not a question of the working class intervening with its organizations to “add” only its demands, but to put itself at the head of this struggle and take it in an open political struggle against the government, with a program that makes “hegemony” to conquer allies in all the classes oppressed by this regime.
The organizations like the CUT, No+AFP and other organizations have not even taken the call of organizations like the Port Union that called to prepare a “general strike” against the government. In the case of the CUT, its leadership shamefully continues to look around the gallery or calling for punctual concentrations that change nothing. As has been shown in recent years, the union bureaucracies of the ex-NM (New Majority, the popular front of ex- president Michelle Bachelet) and the PC, and now the alliance with the FA that coexists peacefully with them and is quickly assimilating their methods, transform the central government and the unions into completely conservative organizations in the face of the situation, in a moment of crisis where it is proposed that the workers movement enter the scene massively through strikes, strikes and radicalized mobilization leading a general strike. The institutional path of the “anti-neoliberal left” seeks for Piñera to retreat but remain in power, and to facilitate that through the same institutions hated by the population that has led this rebellion, the conflict is stirred up.
For the revolutionaries, on the other hand, it is a question of fighting for a program that, starting from the popular rebellion, develops the most advanced tendencies and proposes to defeat Piñera by means of a general strike with mobilization. To this end, the demand that the official leaderships make hundreds of thousands experience their role and force them to leave their comfortable offices is central.
However, this battle must be accompanied by a strategy that proposes to massively develop mass self-organization, that allows the fight to be unified, to democratically plan what program and strategy the movement endows itself to succeed, and to prevent a more reactionary attack or a way out of institutional “deviance. If massive assemblies of delegates or coordinators were to emerge, we would be on a much better footing for the emergence of democratic bodies of struggle of the masses for unity of action and with a program that wins the alliances of the oppressed classes. Until now, organisms of this style have not yet been developed, and it is one of the limits of the situation, although tendencies open up when meetings are called in plazas like Temuco, Valparaíso and Antofagasta, and since Monday Santiago has been called for meetings and assemblies in hundreds of high schools, universities and also in unions. There can be no “program of action” for the moment that does not contemplate developing these tendencies and that puts the objective in the emergence of self-organized organisms of struggle that seek to fight for another perspective for the movement.
This struggle has already made a leap, and it is not only the defense of democratic liberties against the Bonapartist attacks through the methods of class struggle (putting an end to the curfew and the state of emergency), but also to advance to the defeat of the government through the General Strike, and to impose a Free and Sovereign Constituent Assembly, with revocable representatives who earn the same as one worker and elected officials for every 20,000 voters, over the ruins of the neo-pinochetist regime and establish a favorable solution for the workers and the people.
Behind the institutional strategy, the aim is to contain rather than develop the movement, without touching the pillars of the regime and the “real powers” or power factors that govern Chile. To go all the way, it is a revolutionary way to turn over the government, the regime and question the pillars of Chilean capitalism, and to conquer a government of the workers that breaks with capitalism, for the integral and effective realization of our aspirations and demands.