A Road to Victory for Chile

Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein
https://i0.wp.com/c.files.bbci.co.uk/9B6A/production/_115068793_hi064021633.jpgRecent political events in Latin America have given rise to a new subject that takes the lead in events based on novel behaviors that were not always understood by their predecessors. Now, it is the youth, women, environmentalists and indigenous peoples, among others, who are setting the course and pace of the social struggle.

It is not viable to establish generalizations for all countries. Each one has its own history, idiosyncrasy, organizational practice and experience in popular struggles that make it useless to copy models and methods of action. The peoples, on the basis of their own exercise, will point out the path that the road to liberation should follow.

The democratic, progressive and revolutionary forces (which are not the same) forged coalitions at the end of the last century that brought to the government popular leaders who in almost all cases did not come from the traditional parties. The organizations and militants that survived the struggles of the second half of the 20th century were incorporated as the backbone of these overwhelming processes that erupted in the region after the electoral triumph of Comandante Hugo Chávez in 1998.

The left in government in several Latin American countries during the first fifteen years of this century produced profound political, economic and social mutations that contributed to the improvement of the living conditions of millions of citizens…but they did not gain access to power.  However, there is no doubt that the balance of these three decades is highly positive in terms of democratic advances, more equitable income redistribution, defense of sovereignty, inclusion and social participation.

Nevertheless, they were not able to overcome some of capitalism’s cultural encrusted scourges in the psyche and conscience of many who, upon reaching public office, did not establish clear differentiations with the past. Bureaucracy, administrative inefficiency, nepotism, governmental mediocrity in some cases and above all corruption, permeated and minimized the great transforming work they did in each country, and as a whole gave Latin America and the Caribbean the possibility of being a leading actor present and active in the international dynamics for the first time in history.

It should not be forgotten that, faced with the impossibility of competing on equal terms with the right because of its overwhelming economic, military and institutional power, the most powerful weapon wielded by the left for decades is its unequalled ethical disposition, its moral superiority and its high political conscience that allows it to make extraordinary sacrifices without asking for anything material in return. When these virtues are lost, we are disarmed.

I do not underestimate the work of the United States and the powers that be, but it cannot be assumed that it is possible to carry out a process of transformation of society with imperial approval. That would even be dangerous. In its DNA, the United States has a vocation for interference and interventionism. Those who take up the cause of the peoples in the face of the system of domination must know that they will face the brutal reaction of those who seek to maintain the system of predominance and control at any cost.

In recent months, the libertarian sentiment of the peoples has erupted once again, a new democratizing, popular and anti-neoliberal wave is crossing all the latitudes of Our America. It would be a mistake to characterize current events based on values and categories of the past.

All youth is essentially transformative. Salvador Allende said it categorically:

“To be young and not be revolutionary is a contradiction, even a biological one”.

To that extent, young people are eternally and naturally misunderstood when they assume – in their own way – the leadership of social processes. It has always been like this, the difference with what is happening today is that the profound and accelerated evolution and innovation of communications and technologies has made this distance more overwhelming.

It is not a matter of approaching the emancipatory struggle in generational terms, nor of falling into the extremes of discarding the elders or, what is worse, of being a veteran who promotes the young while despising other equals. Whoever is truly revolutionary fights for their space and will prevail if their ideas are just, and if their analysis of the concrete situation is correct. It is normal that the archaic resists change and that the new wants to overwhelm everything that confronts it, but worse is immobility, paralysis in action and accommodating lethargy to hold better positions of power.

The complicated part is finding the right balance between one thing and the other. Asian countries and native peoples in our region make daily practice of this apparent contradiction. Although it is the young people who make the decisions, they never discard the old people because they consider them to be the bearers of the ancestral knowledge and wisdom so necessary for correct decision making.

A few days ago, I listened to an interesting interview made by the Argentinean radio station FM de la Azotea de Mar del Plata to the Chilean presidential pre-candidate Daniel Jadue, current mayor of the commune of Recoleta in the capital of that country. This interview was added to others where I have listened to Jadue attentively, being positively surprised to discover in his discourse answers to several of the concerns expressed above.

Although Jadue is now over 50 years old, I perceived in him a fresh expression of discourse, meticulously answering the journalist’s questions with surgical precision, without evading any of them. That would not be so relevant if it were not for the fact that I discovered a dialectic perspective on issues that go beyond the strict margins of Chile and its vicissitudes.

In the first place, and in the face of the evident successes of his municipal management, Jadue avoids the self-praise so typical of “professional” bureaucrats. He repeatedly assumes himself as part of a collective with a high political level and professional and technical capacity that has managed to build a popular and anti-neoliberal development model, which was thought to be impossible in Chile. In the same tone, rejecting individual protagonisms and leaders of any kind, he attributes the merit of the political moment of flux that his country is going through to the Chilean people, its popular and social organizations. I do not think I am confused, having many years not being able to distinguish the populist charlatan from the one who -like Jadue- with arguments in favor of the true sense of the popular in the daily work of politics.

On another level, referring to the current reality. Daniel Jadue rejects the idea of an “outburst” and that everything started on October 18, 2019 when students jumped the turnstile of the public subway transportation to demonstrate their rejection to the increase of such service. He explains with many historical details and with passionate vehemence that these events came to make clear a long process of accumulation of forces that begins after the civil-military fascist coup of 1973. Through this, he interprets the sentiments of those who fought and struggled in different ways against the dictatorship, those who resisted the neoliberal and anti-popular offensive during the 30 years of governments of the two right-wing governments of the duopoly of power that sheltered and sustained the model created by Pinochet and his clique and, of course, those who today face the fiercest expression of that model and who, being in government or in the opposition, aspire to its continuity.

In this sense, and perhaps unintentionally, Jadue becomes a hinge that connects the struggle of different generations that have dissimilar views on the future of probable events. He does not close himself to anyone’s participation, he grants a leading role to the social movements, giving precise answers to the journalist’s questions about the measures that a government of a different orientation would have to take in order to give viability to an alternative model for this Chile that was presented as the summit of neoliberal success.

And here is revealed another very interesting facet that emerges from his strange professional formation that integrates his architectural and sociological background. The current mayor of Recoleta displays a high theoretical level in terms of the modern management of science and technology placed at the service of public administration. Thus, he groups under the same vision the scientific and technical aspects in terms of their necessary linkage with the social.

Finally, another aspect that I find comforting when studying Jadue’s speech, is discovering a politician of his time, but also one who links yesterday with today in order to project tomorrow by exposing the aspects of politics at all levels. In response to questions from the journalist, Jadue deepened the knowledge of his local administration as he explained in detail the way in which he plans to expand that knowledge successfully throughout the country – if he is elected president – without resorting to convoluted formulas that are incomprehensible, or worse, unrealistic. With plain language, he demonstrates the feasibility of demolishing the neoliberal model to make Chile a democratic and supportive country once again.

At the regional and global level, the candidate -without ambiguity- assumed the flags of the left, without doubts, without questioning, with a critical spirit but respectful of previous experiences, but with a firmness that denotes his will to place Chile -again- on the path of integration with its Latin American peers, assuming the principles of non-interference, non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries and respect for sovereignty and the right to self-determination.

Ten years ago, when I started writing articles on a regular basis, my first article was entitled “‘By reason or force’, Chile is alive”, in the light of what was happening in Chile at that time. I began by saying: “Without any electoral record, Pinochet fraudulently imposed the Constitution that legalized his authoritarian political model of neoliberal market economy. Pinochet’s constitution chained together an anti-democratic legal framework that consecrated a gatopardian model in which everything had to change so that everything would remain the same”.

In conclusion: “Today, young people are in the streets and are fighting for their rights. They have begun to make valid the motto of the Chilean coat of arms, “For reason or force”. All the strength of the Chilean youth in favor of their struggle together with the people. Chile is alive”. How happy I am to testify that such conviction of a decade ago, points today to a path of victory.

Translation by Internationalist 360°