A Path to Victory for Chile

By Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein on June 4, 2021

Foto: Cortesía

The recent political events in Latin America have generated a new subject that takes the lead in the events from novel behaviors 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 caboose of these overwhelming processes that burst into 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.

But 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 differences 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 that the left has wielded 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 that, 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 dismissing the elders or, what is worse, being a veteran who promotes the young while despising other equals. Whoever is truly revolutionary fights for his space and will impose himself if his ideas are just, and his 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 tricky thing is to find the right balance between one thing and the other. Asian countries and the 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 is added to others in which I have listened to Jadue with attention, being positively surprised to discover in his speech answers to several of the concerns expressed above.

Although Jadue is already over 50 years old, I perceived in him a fresh rhetoric that shreds with surgical meticulousness the journalist’s questions without avoiding any of them. That would not be so relevant if it were not for the fact that I found a dialectic look in front of subjects 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. Again and again he assumes himself as part of a collective of high political level and high professional and technical capacity that has managed to build a model of popular and anti-neoliberal development, which was thought impossible in Chile. In the same tone, rejecting individual protagonisms and caudillisms of any kind, he attributes the merit of the political moment of flux that his country is living to the Chilean people, its popular and social organizations. I do not think I am confused, I have many years to not be able to distinguish the populist charlatan from the one who -like Jadue- with arguments contributes 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 “outburst” and that everything started on October 18, 2019 when students jumped the turnstile of the subway public transport 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. With this, he interprets the feelings 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 that, being in government or in the opposition, aspire to give it continuity.

In this sense, and perhaps unintentionally, Jadue becomes a hinge that articulates 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 imbricates his condition of architect and sociologist. The current mayor of Recoleta exhibits 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 look the scientific and technical aspects in terms of their necessary link with the social.

Finally, another aspect that I find comforting when studying Jadue’s speech, is to find a politician of his time, but also one who links yesterday with today to project tomorrow by exposing the aspects of politics at all levels. In response to questions from the journalist, Jadue deepened his knowledge of local administration, which, however, did not prevent him from explaining in detail how he plans to extend such successful learning to the whole country – if he is elected president – without resorting to convoluted formulas that are incomprehensible, or worse, unfeasible. 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 put 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 periodically, my first article was entitled “‘By reason or force’, Chile is alive”. 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 catopardian model in which everything had to change so that everything would remain the same”.

And he concluded: “Today, young people are in the streets and 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.

Source: La Pupila Insomne, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English