Chile: Piñera’s government unleashes brutal repression against May Day gathering

Socialism Revolucionario (CWI in Chile) supporters on the streets of Santiago

Using the covid-19 pandemic as an excuse, the criminal Chilean government, led by Sebastian Piñera, gave a blank cheque to the police – carabineros – to brutally repress a protest of the working class on the 1 May 2020.

More than 200 carabineros used the pretext that more than fifty people could not gather together, and proceeded to beat and arrest workers who arrived at the Plaza de Dignidad, in Santiago, last Friday, on May Day – international workers’ day. The repression against protesters had all of the features of revenge by the government, and the police, for everything that had happened following the social uprising in Chile that began on 18 October 2019.

The police targeted the press, in particular, even the official press, which has not exactly been known for reporting in favour of workers. This attack against the journalists was orchestrated action by the La Moneda Presidential palace. It was carried out to the letter by the carabineros, to intimidate and silence the press, even more.

The justification given for this attack is no more than a crude excuse given that the government is promoting the idea that workers should return to their workplaces.  Together with their plan to reopen shopping malls, this is what the government calls a “safe return”! How can you have a safe return when people have to be transported on buses and metro cars, where people are packed like sardines into a can? Under no conditions can this be classified as a safe return.

It is clear that Piñera and the right-wing want to use the excuse of the pandemic to crush the social revolt that began in October 2019. The last thing they are concerned about is the health of wage earners.

Pinera government unnerved

Up to now, Piñera and the right-wing did feel that their positions were relatively safe during the covid-19 health crisis. They hoped that through this crisis, Piñera will be able to complete his term in office, which ends in March 2022. They also hoped they can avoid facing another mass social rebellion. However, as demonstrated by events in Plaza de Dignidad, on 1 May, it is only on a fragile pause.

Piñera and the government of the bosses are terrified of a new round of protests and a return to struggles on the streets. The government’s concerns drove it to increase the levels of state repression. But this display of violence is not a show of strength. It is exactly the opposite. It reveals how afraid the government is of a renewed upsurge of struggle that goes back onto the streets, which is possible.

The Piñera’s government recognizes that with the arrival of the deep economic crisis, which is developing internationally, the social situation will become even more unmanageable for them. The only response they have is more repression.

The prospects are not very positive for the capitalist class and their governments, which were already weakened before the onset of this crisis.

It is clear that capitalism is incapable of giving a response to the fundamental problems that exist in society. What is necessary is for the working class to deliver the knock-out blow to this system of injustice, inequality, and abuse.


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May 2020