At least 195 demonstrators were arrested at rallies on Tuesday, October 18 commemorating the third anniversary of the social explosion that shook Chile in 2019.
The police-state methods were carried out despite the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of the gatherings. The same repressive measures used repeatedly under the previous right-wing administration of billionaire president Sebastian Piñera, are today normalized by the increasingly unpopular pseudo-left government headed by President Gabriel Boric.
“Mr. Boric, a former left-wing student leader, came to power in the aftermath of the protests, having proposed a constitutional referendum as a way of channeling public discontent with the system,” wrote the Brazilian Report. “But his approval ratings stand at a meager 27 percent only six months after taking office, a Cadem poll showed on October 17. The rate sits six points below the previous reading on October 10, the previous record low.”
Boric’s crackdown also resulted in another 30 people being injured by the notorious Carabineros Special Forces, who provocatively targeted marchers with live tear gas canisters as water cannon vehicles drenched crowds with contaminated water causing skin ulcerations.
With extraordinary cynicism, Daniel Jadue the Stalinist mayor of the municipality of Recoleta tweeted “Three years on, the repression is still intact. Shocking and incomprehensible. Finally nothing has changed! How to explain Minister @Carolina_Toha that they use the same practices of Piñera?” The Stalinists hold two cabinet posts, and Camila Vallejo as Secretary General of Government is spokesperson for the Boric administration.
In the sweep, the militarized cops also arrested Carolina Trejo, a Sputnik and Interferencia correspondent, who was held incommunicado for 24 hrs. The president of the Federation of Journalists of Latin America and the Caribbean, Fabian Cardozo, told Sputnik: “We view with concern the arrest of this colleague who was doing her job. We repudiate the action of the police (and) demand her immediate release.”
Cardozo warned of an ever-growing threat to journalists from the Chilean state apparatus. Only last May Day, Señal 3 la Victoria reporter, Francisca Sandoval, was fatally wounded and two other journalists were shot by right-wing elements as Carabineros watched on.
Without a doubt Trejo was specifically singled out. Last August, Interferencia reported that police investigations had been carrying out surveillance of several journalists who had interviewed leaders of the Mapuche guerrilla organization, Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco. Trejo was subjected to wiretapping and was being shadowed for more than two years.
Undersecretary of the Interior Manuel Monsalve (Socialist Party-PS) reported on Monday that 25,000 officers were deployed “in a preventive manner to avoid disturbances to public order, public safety and acts of violence.”
The overwhelming police mobilization was designed to intimidate the population and to brutalize the protestors. Some social media sites urged people not to attend due to the danger of state-orchestrated violence, or cautioned participants to be conscious of the infamous “intramarchas,” infiltrated cops deployed in the hundreds during the 2019 demonstrations to commit crimes and incite violence and vandalism to tarnish the protestors and to provide a pretext for the violent repression that followed.
In the lead up to the third anniversary, Amnesty International revealed that while 10,813 complaints of human rights violations had been lodged at the Prosecutor’s Office in 2019, only 14 cases had resulted in convictions against state agents. Another report, submitted by the Childhood Ombudsman's Office, found that more than 3,470 children and adolescents had suffered human rights violations between 2019 and 2020. Of these cases, 74 percent corresponded to unlawful coercion committed by Carabineros—only one percent of the cases have been closed and only two cases have resulted in convictions.
Yet a week before Tuesday’s commemorations, Boric ratified the incumbent general director of the Carabineros, Ricardo Yañez, who faces charges of human rights violations including a lawsuit for his possible responsibility for the murder of journalist Francisca Sandoval. Also keeping his post is the head of the Carabineros Police Intelligence Directorate, Luigi Lopresti, a founder of the “intramarchas” units.
Following the overwhelming rejection in September of a redrafted constitution to replace the charter from the era of the Pinochet dictatorship, Boric invited to post-plebiscite discussions the centre-left, which won only 25 seats, and the right and fascistic right parties, which combined won only 37 seats in the 155-seat constitutional convention last year.
These moves are a nod to finance capital to indicate that irrespective of earlier electoral promises and the ultimate replacement of the authoritarian constitution, Boric’s administration will pursue a de-facto national unity government committed to a tight monetary policy, cutting spending and imposing “law and order”. Boric has, along with his “Pink Tide” counterparts in Peru and Colombia, also aligned Chile more closely with the Biden administration in its war drive against Russia and the pursuit of US imperialism’s hegemonic interests in the Western Hemisphere.
Boric also stacked his cabinet with members of the deeply hated centre-left coalition. Monsalve (PS), Interior Minister Carolina Tohá (Party for Democracy), Defense Minister Maya Fernández Allende (PS), Finance Minister Mario Marcel (PS-ind), Secretary General of the Presidency Ana Lya Uriarte (PS) and others are long-time operatives of a political caste, financed by the National Endowment for Democracy and other US and European imperialist think-tanks, created to save capitalism amid the sharp economic and political crisis of the Pinochet dictatorship in the 1980s.
Once in office, the bourgeois centre-left coalition imposed savage free-market policies during 24 of the last 30 years of civilian rule that helped create the fertile ground for the unprecedented anti-capitalist demonstrations that shook the Chilean ruling class to its foundations and opened up a revolutionary period characterized by the bourgeoisie’s profound crisis of rule.
That the working class was not able to take advantage of this crisis of rule was because of the role played by the pseudo-left Frente Amplio coalition, the bourgeois Socialist Party, the Stalinist Communist Party, the trade unions and the myriad Pabloite organizations that orbit them in subordinating the mass struggles to the maintenance of the bourgeois state and capitalist profit interests.
Breaking the grip of these bankrupt and anti-working class organization requires a thorough-going rejection of the reactionary national reformist and class collaborationist program that they promote— like the possibility of democratizing the capitalist state, or redrafting the constitution to resolve social inequality, or reforming the repressive institutions. The capitalist state exists solely to safeguard the interests of its master, the capitalist class.
A revolutionary period has opened up has opened up in Chile and throughout Latin America precisely because the mechanisms that have previously kept world capitalism in equilibrium are collapsing.
The economic and political crisis has become all the more acute in the nearly three years since global capitalism imposed its “let it rip” policy in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coupled with the injection by central banks of trillions of dollars to save the parasitic financial oligarchy at the expense of the broad mass of the population, and the American and European imperialist war against Russia via their Ukrainian puppets, these objective expressions of capitalist breakdown have sparked an international supply chain crisis, precipitated rampant inflation and ushered in a resurgence of the class struggle.
As the Carabineros were preparing their brutal repression on October 18, Boric gave a televised address to the nation in which he unwittingly revealed the terror that gripped the entire political caste three years ago. Almost as a way of calming the nerves of the ruling elite, Boric began by specifically denying the anti-capitalist character of the popular demands and the revolutionary nature of the period.
“The Outburst was not an anti-capitalist revolution,” Boric said. Only minutes later he implored that “A rupture of this magnitude must challenge our views and push us to look at what we do not want to see…. I insist, once again, in Chile we face the problems of society with more democracy and not with less. And this has to be a lesson that we all have to learn together so that our differences are solved without ever again reaching the fracture that exploded three years ago today.”
The main thrust of his speech was to invite the right into a de-facto national unity coalition to prevent at all costs the emergence of another revolutionary situation.
“I want you to know that it is in the will of our government to build those bridges and not to dynamite them, with political sectors that do not think as we do and also with society.”