Chile – how to defeat fascism

Image: Michel Paz


Boric's victory is the most decisive step towards resuming the thread of history in Chile, interrupted by the brutal coup of September 11, 1973.

“Who would have thought we'd make it this far!” wrote Congresswoman Camila Vallejo in a post on her Instagram following Gabriel Boric's triumph in Chile's presidential elections on December 19. In the photo, Camila poses with four female leaders who have presided over the Federation of Students of the University of Chile (FECh) in recent years. And she highlights: “the only thing missing was Gabriel Boric”. As well as the deputy, who will assume important functions in the new government, the president-elect of Chile was president of FECh in 2012, having run for reelection of Camila herself, who became his deputy.

Both had the responsibility of directing the entity during the massive student protests of 2011 and 2012, the biggest post-dictatorship demonstrations up to that moment, precisely in the first term of Sebastián Piñera. Chile's current president will share power with students who took to the streets against neoliberal educational policies a decade ago and against the Constitution of the Pinochet dictatorship.

Boric's victory is the most decisive step towards resuming the thread of history in Chile, interrupted by the brutal coup of September 11, 1973, which ousted Salvador Allende, the socialist and democratically elected “fellow president”. It is also a primordial step in the search for the realization of a full transitional justice, which has been unfolding over the last thirty years in an incomplete way in the Andean country. The day after the great victory, when visiting the Palace of La Moneda to meet with the current president, Boric posted his photo on instagram in front of the bust of Allende and wrote: “when I was in front of the bust of Salvador Allende I thought of the who, like him, came before us. Your dreams of a better Chile are the ones we are going to continue building together with all of you”.

More than an ordinary presidential election, the December 19 election marked a true memorial battle in Chile, in which the nation projects of the two opponents represented antagonistic countries. With Boric's victory, even Inti Illimani's chant in 1970 gained new relevance: “this time it is not about changing a president, it will be the people who build a very different Chile”. If before, the candidates who reached the second round were always linked, albeit in different intensities, to the commitment to maintain the Chilean neoliberal model and the 1980 Constitution, this time a candidate with full backing from a popular process reached the second round. of constitutional transformation already underway. On the other hand, José Antonio Kast, admirer of Pinochet, contrary to the rights of indigenous peoples, women and sexual minorities, defender of the repression of opposition activists, admirer of unbridled capitalism, of an anti-popular State at the service of big business; in short, the continuity and resurgence of the so-called “Chilean model”.

Despite the controversies surrounding Gabriel Boric, rejected by the popular camp after individually signing the agreement for social peace on November 15, 2019 without consulting the streets, the elections articulated a necessary suspension of the divergences of the Chilean lefts in the name of popular unity. This is how 1,3 million absent voters in the first round appeared in the second, to protect the new Constitution threatened by Kast. And they gave victory to the youngest elected president in Latin America, supported by workers and retirees, residents of poblaciones, feminists, ecological movements, sexual and gender dissidences, native peoples, students and teachers, relatives of dictatorship victims and former political prisoners, victims of repression against social outbreak. Most Chilean workers, who have suffered for decades from the generalization of temporary contracts and the absence of labor rights, identify in the New Constitution a process of profound changes “until dignity becomes a custom”. The victory of the left was historic. As the Chilean writer wrote Alexander Zambra: “Gabriel Boric's generation, of our smaller brothers, killed their father. They formed their own parties and refused to accept our traumas. They deserve our admiration, our affection and our gratitude”.

The action of social movements and popular pressure on the streets is still essential to articulate the new government's agenda to the popular constituent process. The next Chilean Congress will be very divided, with no bloc forming a majority. The new president will be led to make agreements with center-left parties, but the support of the population will be essential to press for profound changes and guarantee that the Plebiscite to leave the new Constitution will not be sabotaged by the reactionary forces that seek to maintain the status quo. Chile is experiencing a unique moment towards an independent and sovereign future, it has become an inspiring country for all of Latin America: after all, if neoliberalism was born there, it could also die there. In the struggle for minds and hearts, Chileans have given us a lesson in how to defeat fascism. May the words of the communist poet Pablo Neruda echo throughout our Latin America: “My heart is in this fight. My people will win. All peoples will win, one by one.”

*Luan Aiuá is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of São Paulo (USP).

* Joana Salem Vasconcelos she holds a PhD in history from USP. Author of Agrarian history of the Cuban revolution: dilemmas of socialism in the periphery (Avenue).

Originally published on the website Other words.


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