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Runoff in Chile: For Defeating Kast and the Right, without Confidence in Boric or His Project

Gabriel Boric’s wide margin of victory over José Antonio Kast in today’s Chilean presidential vote was a surprise. It was a rejection of the strengthening of the Right wing in the first round of the elections. Now that fight against the Right must move to the streets, where the demands from the October 2019 rebellion must be raised again.

La Izquierda Diario Chile

December 20, 2021
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President elect Gabriel Boric of the Social Convergence party and Republican Party candidate José Antonio Kast pose before a presidential debate in Santiago, Chile, on Dec. 13.
Photo: Elvis Gonzalez/Pool/Getty Images

We stand side by side with all workers, women, immigrants, Mapuche people, and young people who hate José Antonio Kast and want to defend against his threats to working and oppressed people. Our call is to defeat Kast and the Right with the strength and mobilization of the working class and oppressed, but without any confidence in Gabriel Boric or his project. We are promoting a broad campaign — independent of Boric’s campaign and Apruebo Dignidad — against Kast, the Right, and the big businessmen, one that will organize in our workplaces, schools, and all places where we have influence. We will make the pages of La Izquierda Diario available for this purpose.

Kast represents everything we fought in the October rebellion. He constitutes an attempt to reestablish “order” and increase repression against all those who mobilize to demand what the capitalists of Chile take from us. Kast represents the authoritarian reaction of the “old regime” against the demands of the uprising and in defense of the Pinochet constitution.

His first targets are women, LGBTQI people, the Mapuche people, immigrants, and the combative youth. One of the pillars of Kast’s campaign is his discourse around order and repressing what remains of the 2019 uprising, but his project aims at attacking the living conditions of the entire working class. His program is tailor-made for big business and multinational corporations: he wants to raise the retirement age and defend the AFP (private pension funds); maintain the precariousness of labor and the loss of union rights; lower taxes for millionaires and make a fiscal adjustment that will directly attack workers in the public sector, healthcare workers, and education workers. Even if he modifies the most extreme aspects of his program, these pillars make up the bulk of his plans. Kast is Sebastián Piñera, reloaded.

Because of the threat that Kast poses to the rights and livelihoods of the working class and poor, and the fact that he performed so well in the first round of elections, many people have decided to vote for Boric in the second round to prevent the Far Right from assuming power. Many will do so with their noses held, because they do not forget that it was Boric himself who worked with Chile’s traditional parties — whose policies meant a continuation of Pinochet’s legacy for 30 years — to negotiate the Peace Agreement and New Constitution after the 2019 uprising and to ultimately save Piñera’s government.

The Partido de Trabajadores Revolucionarios (Party of Revolutionary Workers, PTR) stands side by side with all the workers, women, youth, and LGBTQI people who hate Kast and want to challenge the rise of the Far Right. Our call is to defeat Kast and the Right with the strength and mobilization of the working class and popular sectors, but without any confidence in Boric and his project.

We are promoting a broad campaign — independent of Boric’s campaign and Apruebo Dignidad — against Kast, the Right, and big business, one that will organize in our workplaces, study places, and all places where we have influence. We will make the pages of La Izquierda Diario available for this purpose. We share this battle both with comrades who, aware of what Boric represents, are going to vote critically for him, as well as with those who want to confront the Right and will not vote because they know that Boric does not represent the demands of October.

We call on these sectors to promote this campaign in all spaces and in many forms, including the formation of committees that will organize against Kast and the Right, independently and not subordinated to Apruebo Dignidad. We must foster the unity and independent organization of the working class, the women’s movement, the student movement, and the movement of Mapuche people to defeat the Right and the capitalists who have benefited from the dictatorship of Pinochet and its legacy, embodied in the regime of the last 30 years.

Why No Confidence in Boric?

The Frente Amplio and the Communist Party directed the energy in the streets toward a supposed institutional change that has not given anything to the people. This policy allowed the Right to strengthen. Widespread disappointment with the Constitutional Convention, which was tied to the traditional capitalist parties and did not resolve popular demands, explains in great part why many will not vote in the elections, and why right-wing and neoliberal populist figures like Franco Parisi gained influence in parliament. Added to this was the disastrous role played by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (Workers’ United Center, CUT) and trade union leaders who did not mobilize or organize to confront the attacks of the Piñera government during the pandemic. The Communist Party voted for a law that legalized suspensions, which are essentially hidden layoffs. Frente Amplio supported the anti-barricades law in the wake of the uprising, which criminalized the construction of barricades and enabled the imprisonment of protesters.

Today, Gabriel Boric intends to reinforce that path. During the last few weeks we have seen how he has made a rapid rightward shift to appeal to moderate sectors. This is far from being a mere electoral tactic. At stake is the character of his government if he is elected. With the support of former president Ricardo Lagos and all the parties of the former Concertación coalition — which oversaw attacks on the working class for decades, despite its progressive veneer — Boric ensures that there will be an “adjustment in expectations” and a commitment to so-called “fiscal responsibility.” Boric has even stated that he will not pardon protesters who were imprisoned during the 2019 uprising; he has said that “more police” and a renewed security agenda are required.

Boric is reconsolidating an alliance with the old parties of the Concertación, the New Majority, which is composed of parties that enacted a ruthless neoliberal agenda for the past 30 years. This cannot mean anything other than liquidating the October agenda and its demands, instead preserving the hated institutions of the regime, such as the Carabineros, the special police force that was deployed to repress the 2019 protests and perpetrated countless human rights abuses.

Revitalizing the October Agenda and Paving the Way for Mobilization

Big business is attacking our living conditions in a context of economic stagnation, more inflation, and an increase in informal employment and precariousness. The political crisis remains in flux, and the social demands of the masses are still unresolved. Relying on keeping its alliances with the parties of the former Concertación, the National Congress will not allow any deep changes to pass.

Big business is betting on the restoration of law and order, and it is announcing an austerity plan that will dig into the pockets of working and poor people. This is what is behind the recent attacks on pensions and the end of programs like the Ingreso Familiar de Emergencia (Emergency Family Income, IFE), which provided aid — albeit inadequate — during the pandemic. Today the capitalists are betting on Kast, but they will push this agenda even if he loses. Boric today represents another type of restoration, that of the reconstruction of a center-left and a social-democratic path toward political stability.

This is why, beginning today, we must fight for the unity and mobilization of workers, unions, the feminist movement, social and indigenous rights organizations, advocates for political prisoners, and human rights organizations. We must promote the formation of assemblies and committees, developing democratic self-organization of the rank and file to defend all our basic rights and to finally win the demands for which millions of us went out to the streets and which are still more valid than ever.

Today the leaders of the unions and social movements remain passive. They call to vote for Boric to “confront fascism” but do not call assemblies, do not allow political discussion, and do not defend a program based on the unresolved October demands. The strategy of emptying the streets, as we have already seen, only strengthens the Right and big business. Confidence in the “institutional path,” subjugated to the parties of the 30 years after the dictatorship and intent on taking the struggle out of the streets, has led to the rise of Kast. Today it is more necessary than ever to return to the path of broad and united mobilization and organization for our demands.

Boric’s program does not respond to the demands of the great working and poor masses, nor does it respond to the demands expressed in the rebellion of 2019 and 2020. For this reason, it is necessary to put forward an alternative of the workers, with a program that confronts Kast, the Right, and all the parties of the past 30 years. Such an alternative must strive to strengthen self-organization and mobilization in order to win our demands and finally bury the legacy of the dictatorship, in the perspective of a workers’ government.

Such a program would start with a general wage increase, genuine work without precariousness, quality education and public healthcare in the service of the people, the end of the AFP, a salary and minimum pension of 600,000 pesos that is automatically adjusted to inflation, decent housing for all by putting an end to the business of banks and real estate. It would also include freedom for all political prisoners, the trial and punishment of the repressive forces, and the dissolution of the police. It would confront the government’s attempts to criminalize protest and organize broad campaigns for the demilitarization of the Wallmapu territory and ultimately for the return of ancestral lands to the Mapuche people. Such a program would fight for legal, free, and safe abortion. It would fight to put an end to the plundering of resources — nationalizing water, copper, and lithium under the management of workers and communities; and it would retake the privatized gas and electricity companies, offering utilities at cost price and putting those resources at the service of social need, not profit.

Originally published in Spanish on December 8 in La Izquierda Diario.

Translation by Madeleine Freeman

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La Izquierda Diario Chile

Our Chilean sister site, part of the international network of La Izquierda Diario


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