Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Third Friday of Protests in Chile: Masses Return to the Streets

Maintaining a state of emergency, the government of Sebastián Piñera has announced more repression. But last Friday, the streets responded with widespread rejection. We need a strategy to make the general strike effective and sustained until Piñera falls—and with him the inheritance of the dictatorship.

La Izquierda Diario Chile

November 12, 2019
Facebook Twitter Share

The government’s “social agenda” has failed to alleviate the open conflict in Chile. So Piñera has decided to ramp up the repression. This week he announced a series of new security measures to criminalize the protests, including new anti-mask and anti-barricade laws, more funding to the police, and the modernization of intelligence forces. These are direct attacks on the youth, women, indigineous peoples, and the working class. 

However, the continuation of the rebellion for the third Friday in a row has revealed a widespread rejection of the government’s proposals, leading to a mass mobilization in the streets and clashes with the police.

The continuing demonstrations show that there is still a strong desire to defeat the government, despite the enormous repression which has left more than 20 dead and hundreds injured. This is also despite the ongoing attempts by the center-left parties of the former Concertación coalition to channel the movement toward negotiations with Piñera. These parties, while currently in opposition to the right-wing government, have spent decades managing the regime inherited from the dictatorship. Rather than leading the rebellion forward, these parties have sought to end the crisis by negotiating about some minor concessions to the mass movement. 

For a Plan of Struggle to Topple the Government!

This Tuesday (November 12), a general strike has been called by the Social Unity Roundtable, which is composed of the the trade union federation CUT, the teachers’ and dockworkers’ unions, as well as social movements and students’ organizations. These organisations are dominated by the Communist Party and the Frente Amplio (Broad Front).

The call for a general strike is absolutely necessary and we must push it forward with all our strength. However, the Social Unity Roundtable does not raise the main demand echoing through the streets: “Out with Piñera!” By allowing this government to survive, they are helping to stabilize the regime inherited from the dictatorship which the whole world can see shaking. Instead of the united working class striking in unison, they are being led on by endless negotiations with a criminal government that uses democracy as a smokescreen while it murders its own people.

But the policy of the Frente Amplio and the CP has focused on finding an institutional solution to the crisis, with a plebiscite on a constituent assembly. This is despite the fact that the only guarantee that a constituent assembly could take place is by continuing the rebellion on the streets. It is quite naive to believe that a non-binding plebiscite could convince a government that has been completely deaf to the demands made by millions of people mobilized throughout the country.

This policy, which tries to appear combative but actually seeks solutions within the capitalist institutions, has already begun to generate friction and disagreements. Recently, the Coordinating Assembly of Secondary Students (ACES), decided to leave the Social Unity Roundtable because they “do not want to legitimize this government” particular after the 2011 student movement for free education was also diverted into the dead-end of parliament. 

We need an active general strike and a plan of struggle that prepares us to overcome the intransigence of the government. We must organize ourselves from the grassroots in order to achieve it, as the health workers of the Barros Luco hospital have been doing, together with the Cordón Centro that gathers and coordinates workers, artists, and students. On Saturday, they held an open assembly to fight for these demands.

The genuine desire of broad sectors of the population to get organized has generated various forms of self-organization, ranging from assemblies, coordinating and emergency committees and even first aid brigades. These spaces have a realistic understanding of the contradictions of the moment: the government does not want to deliver any structural change, every demand that was raised in the street will only be won through struggle, and for this strike to be successful production itself must be paralyzed.

The general strike must also demand the trial and punishment for the murderers of protesters, freedom for those imprisoned, and the right to demonstrate. But this will only be possible if we prepare a plan of struggle that seeks to extend and deepen the general strike through grassroots assemblies and coordinating committees. It is only then that will be able to implement the demand raised on the streets on Friday: “Pinera must fall!”

In this wayand in combination with the enormous strength of the mobilized workers—that we can forge the unity and strength to defeat not just Piñera, but the entire legacy of the dictatorship. We can do this by pushing past the conservatism of the bureaucratic leaders who have always sought to accept crumbs and minor reforms in order to keep the system intact. As they say in the streets, there is the possibility that Chile will be both the birthplace and grave of neoliberalism.

First published in Spanish on November 9 on La Izquierda Diario Chile.

Translation: Jordan Humphreys

Facebook Twitter Share

La Izquierda Diario Chile

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

Latin America

The Fight against Javier Milei Has Set The Stage For a Whole New Wave of Struggle

The defeat of the Omnibus Law is a key victory for the movement against Javier Milei’s austerity plan and attacks on democratic rights. It shows that the working class and oppressed have the power to fight against the advance of the Far Right in Argentina and across the world.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

February 9, 2024

Defying Repression: Socialist Electeds in Argentina Show Us What Revolutionary Parliamentarism Looks Like

Workers in Argentina are defying police repression and fighting back against the far-right government’s shock therapy. Trotskyist members of congress are not just protesting inside the chamber — they are on the front lines of the demonstrations, getting pepper sprayed and shot with rubber bullets.

Nathaniel Flakin

February 9, 2024

Crisis for Javier Milei as Austerity Bill Is Defeated 

After a national strike and days of mobilizations, the movement in the streets has defeated far-right president Javier Milei’s anti-worker Omnibus Bill.

Otto Fors

February 7, 2024

“Internationalism is About What We’re Doing Here”: Speech Outside the Argentinian Consulate in NYC

Left Voice member Luigi Morris highlights the rise of the Far Right in Argentina, its connection to Zionism and U.S. imperialism, the role of Peronism in creating space for the Right, and how the revolutionary Left is fighting back.

Luigi Morris

February 1, 2024

MOST RECENT

Black UAW workers, a black-and-white image, holding signs that say "UAW ON STRIKE."

To Achieve Black Liberation, Class Independence Is Key

A united, working-class party fighting oppression is our only hope for Black liberation.

Tristan Taylor

February 29, 2024
A banner reads "Real Wages Or We Strike" at a rally for CUNY, which is experiencing cuts from Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul.

CUNY Faculty and Staff Have Gone One Year Without a Contract — It’s Time to Strike

CUNY workers have been without a new contract for a full year and the university has yet to make any economic offers. It's time to take action.

Olivia Wood

February 29, 2024
Aaron Bushnell, who self-immolated in protest of the genocide in Palestine.

Aaron Bushnell’s Cry of Despair in the Face of Genocide

The media and international community was profoundly affected by the self-immolation of U.S. soldier Aaron Bushnell in protest against the genocide in Gaza. His death and desperate act of protest starkly shows the cruelty and brutality of U.S. Imperialism and Zionism.

Enzo Tresso

February 28, 2024
Florida governor Ron DeSantis stands at a podium that reds "Higher Education Reform"

U.S. Higher Education Is Being Gutted, but We Can Fight Back

Across the United States, higher education is being gutted through program eliminations and budget cuts. We must prepare to fight these attacks with everything we have.

Olivia Wood

February 28, 2024