First Santiago Socialism event organised by CWI in Chile

Over Easter weekend 18-20 April, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Chile) organised Socialism 2014, a weekend of discussion and debate on socialist ideas and a key forum for activists from diverse struggles and movements to discuss the way forward. Over 80 people attended the event, the first of its kind, over 3 days: a significant achievement taking into account the difficulties in organising an even over Easter and the fact that many Santiago activists were engaged in the aid effort in the nearby city of Valparaiso, victim to terrible forest fires.

Following the election of the new Bachelet government, on the basis of radical promises and gestures fundamentally aimed at pacifying the important movements which have developed over the last years, the event provided an important opportunity to discuss how the workers’ movement, student movement and genuine left must respond in this context. Discussions were held on Socialism and the struggle for Socialism today, the struggle for a Constituent Assembly, the tasks of the Trade Union movement, the struggle of the Mapuche people, and the Student movement.

On Friday, the event was opened with a forum on the struggle for Socialism, which was introduced by a panel of 4 speakers: Sergio Gres, a well known left wing academic from Santiago University, Carlos Moya from the "Socialistas Allendistas" movement, Luis Mesina, General Secretary of the bank workers’ union federation, and Danny Byrne from the CWI. The discussion focussed on the need to put socialist ideas at the forefront of the class and social battles of the next period, and to distinguish the ideas of genuine socialism from the experience of Stalinism.

The discussion on the Consituent Assembly also featured Eduardo Gutierrez, leader of the Independent Left Movement, Patricio Guzman from Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI) and Esteban Silva of Socialistas Allendistas. This reflected an ongoing process of the coming together of different left and socialist organisations in a front to fight for a break with the Pinochet era consitution and a Consituent Assembly to begin a process of social transformation in Chile.

On Sunday in the forum on the trade union movement, Nino Mundaca, General Secretary of the CCU union which organises Heineken brewery workers spoke alongside Vilma Alvarez from Socialismo Revolucionario and Patricio Guzman, Economics officer for the bank workers’ confederation. This discussion featured a lively debate on the state of the union movement, and the struggle for a combative union confederation which can break with the collaborationism of the CUT leaders.

Celso Calfullan, from Socialismo Revolucionario along with Guillermo Lincolau, former leader of the MAPU movement and Carlos Pilquil discussed the fight against the national oppression suffered by the Mapuche people and the link with the struggle against world capitalism.

The event closed on Saturday with a discussion on the student movement which was opened by Luciano Barboza from LSR (CWI in Brasil) who spoke on the struggles of workers and young people in Brasil as well as the situation of the student and education workers’ movement there, alongside Lucas Gillis from SR and Patricio Altamirano from the independent left movement.

In the context of an absurd over-fragmentation of the forces of the radical left in Chile, the event was also a useful exercise in terms of serving as a forum for activists from different organisations and traditions to come together and discuss how joint work in the future can provide a basis for the development of a new political voice for workers and young people. Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Chile) will play a key role in such a process, organising workers and young people around the need for a new mass party on a socialist programme.

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