CHILE Democracy and Dictatorship Face to Face

On 11 December, the Chilean Senate passed a « constitutional accusation » against the former Minister of the Interior, Andrés Chadwick, following strong pressure to end impunity for murders, torture and imprisonment of demonstrators (some 30 dead, more than 300 seriously injured in the eyes, two of whom became blind, thousands of detainees). All members of the government ran to comfort Chadwick who, at the press conference, highlighted his « innocence », claiming to be the victim of a « political trial ». 

On 12 December, in the Chamber of Deputies, a « constitutional accusation » against President Piñera was rejected by 76 votes to 70, thanks to the votes of the Christian Democracy, the Radical Party and the « independents ». That said, this initiative launched by the Frente Amplio [1] and the Communist Party aimed above all to give the illusion that it was possible to get rid of Piñera « democratically »… within the framework of an antidemocratic Constitution [2], since such a procedure, if adopted by the Chamber, would then have to be validated by the Senate, where Piñera’s supporters control the majority of the votes. 

What is the significance of these two events from the point of view of the interests of the vast majority of the population, mobilised since mid-October? 

It is the clash between democracy, on the one hand, represented by the mobilisation of millions for their demands, for their rights, and who are the true people of Chile … and the dictatorship, on the other hand. This is a dictatorship that represents the 140 large families that rule the country and concentrate 30% of GDP in their hands, backed by mercenaries who are ready to do anything to keep Piñera in power, despite the fact that he is credited with a mere 4% support in the polls. 

It’s a dictatorship which, after Pinochet’s disappearance, donned a « democratic » mask, under the protection of 60,000 special riot police armed to the teeth. A police force whose only mission has been to repress all social mobilisation for past thirty years, and which, in the face of the revolutionary mobilisation of recent weeks, behaves no differently than the repressive force of the old dictatorship. 

In these conditions, the struggle of the people, students, workers, women and pensioners is making its way and drawing lessons. One of the first lessons is the need to move towards the establishment of an organisation that is independent of all parties that have served in Congress. 

This need is expressed in the accelerated crisis that is affecting all parties. The Frente Amplio is the most affected: four organisations that were members have left it, and others, under pressure from their own activists, are likely to follow them. This is because the Frente Amplio was the main salvation for Piñera by signing the « Agreement for Peace and a New Constitution » [3] while the traditional parties were cornered. 

Another lesson that is reinforced every day in the course of mobilisation is the need for a government that is able to implement the population’s demands. On this path, a discussion is taking place in popular organisations to move towards a Constituent Assembly. Of course, there are many obstacles, but to bring down the regime at the service of the 140 families, based on the repression and servility of the existing parties, it is necessary to impose the Constituent Assembly now, so that a government responsible to this Assembly is formed, composed of representatives of the exploited population. 

To do this, it is essential that workers’ committees be organised for the Constituent Assembly immediately. The fight for a government that breaks with the current economic, social and political regime is a necessary condition for establishing a true democracy.  

December 13, 2019
From our correspondents
at the Alliance of Workers and Students 

(1) The Frente Amplio (FA, Broad Front) is a coalition of groups formed in 2017 that presents itself as a leftwing alternative to the Socialist Party and the Communist Party. 

(2) The current Chilean Constitution is that of 1980, that is, that of the Pinochet dictatorship.

(3) This is an agreement signed on 16 November by the Frente Amplio, the PS and others, making a hypothetical cosmetic amendment to the Constitution conditional on a referendum in April 2020.