On Sunday 21 August, another enormous day of protest marches, in opposition to the AFP (the compulsory private pension system) took place all around Chile. Over 400,000 marched in Santiago, with up to 2 million marching around the country. This represents a huge increase on the 1 million who marched in the historic protests of 24 July.
It represents a new pinnacle of mass anger and protest in a country which has been rocked by waves of a militant student movement over the last decade. Sunday’s protests, with the young and old participating in large numbers, represents the beginnings of a new unity of students, workers and youth in struggle.
The marches were called by the “No + AFP” campaign, which brings together activists and leaders of the Chilean Bank workers’ federation, the national health workers’ union, and other smaller unions. Members of Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Chile), who play an important role in the bank workers’ federation have played a leading role in building this campaign over the last years. Patricio Guzman, an economist and leading Socialismo Revolucionario member, has made numerous national media appearances. A video of one such interview (in Spanish) can be seen here).
If the government refuses to rectify and go beyond the meagre concessions offered thus far, the next step which has been announced by the movement is the building of a national general strike on 4 November. While the government-controlled CUT (the historically main union confederation) until recently supported the government’s pension policy, key militant unions such as the copper workers and dockers’ unions, could play a leading role in such a stoppage.
Such a stoppage, organised over the heads of the country’s pro-government union bureaucracy would be a very significant step in the building of a new, militant mass movement of the working class in Chile, both industrially and politically. Socialismo Revolucionario aims to play a central role in this, struggling for the building of a new mass social and political alternative, armed with a revolutionary socialist programme.