Neither President Piñera’s state of siege — with the army and police in the streets, the 18 dead, and the hundreds of wounded and nearly 2,000 arrests — nor the announcement of social measures aimed at calming things down, have had the least effect in quelling the protests.
Pushed by the mobilisations from below, the platform called Unidad Social (Social Unity — which brings together hundreds of the country’s trade unions and social organisations, including the CUT / Workers’ United Central, the Coordinating Committee Against the No + AFP Pension Fund law, and the Colegio de Profesores, affiliated with CUT — issued a call for a general strike on 23 and 24 October.
The demands are the ones that the workers and youth have been chanting in the streets since the beginning of the social explosion: lifting of the state of emergency, withdrawal of the draft law that destroys workers’ rights to retirement pension, education, taxation, and the demand for a series of measures to meet the workers’ needs. They also include the demand for a Sovereign Constituent Assembly. Participation in the general strike was massive.
The explosion that is underway is the result of the policies of the governments of both the “left” and the right that have taken turns in office since the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship. These different governments refused to break with the dictates of the IMF, which were implemented since the first days of Pinochet’s dictatorship and were intensified after 1990. They also refused to break with the institutions of the dictatorship, whose Constitution (adopted in 1980) is still in effect and is the basis today for the state of emergency law decreed by Piñera.
This is what the workers and the people of Chile want to change with their demand for a Constituent Assembly. It is a demand that is addressed to the parties that claim to represent the workers.
But the only solution that has been proposed to address this on-going situation from a group of parliamentary representatives from the “opposition” — including those of the Socialist Party — has been to call on the U.N. and its High Commissioner of Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet (ex-president of Chile), for observers to be sent to Chile … without even asking for the lifting of the state of emergency! As for the parliamentary representatives of the Chilean Communist Party (PCC), along with the representatives of the Socialist Party, they have initiated a discussion on the means — in the framework of the Constitution of the dictatorship, which is still in effect — to start legal proceedings for the impeachment of President Piñera and his secretary of the interior, Andrés Chadwick.
For its part, the Frente Amplio (Broad Front), a coalition of parties and movements that claim to follow the example of the Podemos movement in Spain, has joined forces with the PCC, the Progressive Party (centre-left) and the Federación Regional Verde Social (environmentalists and regionalists), to demand a number of social measures — but they are all carefully avoiding to raise the issue of a Constituent Assembly.
Any and all manoeuvres have thus been launched in the attempt to preserve the institutions that have been rejected by the millions of workers and youth who are demonstrating and striking. The declaration by the Alliance of Workers and Students, which has been widely circulated, asserts and affirms that another way is possible: the election of a sovereign Constituent Assembly, designating a government whose mandate is to satisfy the needs of the workers and the population.
By our correspondents from the Alliance of Workers and Students