HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Places » International » Latin America (Group) » Revolt in Chile: Life Aga...

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 01:43 AM

Revolt in Chile: Life Against Capital


Pierina Ferretti and Mia Dragnic February 13, 2020
PDF

At the beginning of October 2019, a $0.04 increase in the subway fare went into effect in the city of Santiago. A few days later, high school students began organizing days of direct action, calling on people to evade paying the ticket as a sign of protest against the measure imposed by the government. The act of jumping over turnstiles in metro stations spread rapidly and student organizations called for a day of massive evasion on Friday, October 18, under the slogan “Evade, don’t pay, another form of struggle.” The population massively responded to the call and protests took place in the city’s main metro stations that were met with brutal repression by the Carabineros of Chile (an armed police force under the Ministry of the Interior) and the suspension of public transportation in several central points of the Santiago. This situation led to chaos at rush hour, as millions of residents were returning home from work. At nightfall, the population, indignant at the police action and the government’s reaction, spilled out onto the streets, banging their pots and pans. Barricades went up all over the city, and in a matter of hours, the largest social uprising in the country had begun, going from a reaction to the fare increase to a general challenge to the living conditions imposed over more than forty years of orthodox neoliberalism.

Only a few days before the beginning of the popular revolt, Sebastián Piñera, the multimillionaire businessman who is serving his second term as president, described Chile as an “oasis of peace” in the midst of a Latin America in turmoil. His words coincided with the image that the country had exported to the rest of the work for decades: a stable democracy, favorable macroeconomic indexes, a reduction in poverty, increase in per capita income, high levels of access to consumer goods, among other characteristics that made Chile the exceptional case of successful neoliberalism in a region traversed by political instability and popular resistance to the application of monetary recipes. However, the revolt that has launched and maintained the country in its most important social and political crisis since the end of the dictatorship has also caused this appearance to collapse and exposed the foundation of inequality holding up a system that, since it was established through blood and fire by the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and the Chicago Boys, has been deepened and perfected in democracy, both by the governments of the former Concertación (a coalition of center-left parties that led the transition to democracy) and the two right-wing governments led by Piñera.

The commodification of all spheres of social life – including elements such as water, health care, education, and pensions – and the constitution of a type of state that is at the service of corporate accumulation through subsidies to private providers of social services, which guarantees them high profit levels, have been the basis of Creole neoliberalism in Chile for four and a half decades. These two tendencies have resulted in a continuous increase in inequality and the accumulation of large levels of social discontent in increasingly larger segments of the population.1 We can use some data to outline this situation in broad strokes: the top 1% of the population concentrates 26% of the GDP, while the 50% of households with lower incomes only holds 2.1% of the country’s wealth,2 which makes Chile the most unequal country in the OECD and one of the thirty with the worst income distribution at a global level.3 Fifty percent of workers earn around $4604 a month and pension payments average $340,5 numbers that are absolutely insufficient to pay for life and that keep a much greater percentage of the population in poverty than that recognized by official statistics.6 This situation largely explains the population’s high levels of debt, which, according to recent data from the Central Bank, in the last trimester of 2019 reached record levels that represent 75% of the disposable income of Chilean households.7
Under these conditions, which are only a sample, there is a growing sense of exhaustion and awareness of living in an unjust country, where common citizens have to make enormous efforts to make ends meet while large corporations benefit from a system designed for them. The repeated cases of price collusion for basic goods, tax evasion, fiscal fraud by the military and carabineros, among other cases of business and state corruption have exhausted the patience of those who feel the weight of those abuses. “It is not 30 pesos, it is 30 years” was one of the first slogans that emerged from this revolt and one of those that best summarizes its meaning. The Chilean people have accumulated rage, indignation, and frustrations for decades, until the increase in subway fare was the detonator of a social earthquake that, among other things, has marked the end of a neoliberal consensus in a country that was its birthplace and, up until a few weeks ago, an exemplary model.

The Emergence of a New Social Composition and the Limits of the Lefts
Beyond the blind spot of the élite who have insisted on the unexpected and inexplicable nature of this crisis, the signs of exhaustion of the legitimacy of neoliberalism have been felt in a sustained and growing manner in Chile since the beginning of the 2000s. Countless social conflicts, with different impacts, have developed in relation to the dispossession of natural resources and social services. The struggles against water privatization and its theft by agricultural companies, the struggles of communities against mega-mining, and the contamination of so-called “zones of sacrifice,” the struggles of precarious workers in the public and private sector, the massive mobilizations for the right to education and for a new pension system, the mass emergence of a feminism with an anti-neoliberal content and the sustained resistance of the Mapuche people against the colonial character of the state, the dispossession of its communities and the militarization of its territories – a constant feature during the entire post-dictatorship period – are some of the threads that show that Chilean society not only has been accumulating discontent but also that, at the same time, new social actors have been shaped that are capable of questioning the model and opening new political horizons.

More:
https://www.viewpointmag.com/2020/02/13/revolt-in-chile-life-against-capital/

2 replies, 194 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 2 replies Author Time Post
Reply Revolt in Chile: Life Against Capital (Original post)
Judi Lynn Friday OP
mr_lebowski Friday #1
DanieRains Friday #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 01:47 AM

1. Holy wall-of-text ... nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Feb 14, 2020, 02:37 AM

2. Neoliberalism Great For The 1%

The rest of the world. Meh.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread