Chile  – The new government of Boric – high expectations dashed.

A month has passed since the installation of the new government in Chile and the new President, Gabriel Boric. Yet the political, economic and social instability continue to be the main characteristic of the current period. There has been no honeymoon.

We must remember that Boric and his coalition came to power with aroused expectations of the mass of the population. People hoped that it would respond to social demands for profound changes in society and put an end to the institutions inherited from the dictatorship. The October 2019 mass rebellion and the massive social movements which followed not only checked the Piñera government but also the entire former regime. Without a political leadership that would give a revolutionary way out of the crisis, the movement went into a lower-ebb and the energy was channeled into electoral institutional channels: the plebiscite, elections to a constitutional Convention and the general elections.

Boric and the Broad Front (Frente Amplio) were the main advocates of the institutional exit and the so-called “Agreement for Social Peace and the New Constitution” that was signed by the political caste in November 2019. Following that same line, the new government continues to advocate agreements with the business sector and the old regime, increasingly watering down their reform program so as not to “scare the markets or investors”.

At the time of the appointment of the new cabinet, we already pointed out that this should be an alarm for workers and youth. The incorporation of the parties of the former coalition (except for the DC) into the government in key positions was clearly a response to pressure from the business elite which was afraid of possible radical changes that would affect their millionaires profits.

Facts more than symbols or words

Beyond the expectations that many had and still have in the symbolic gestures or announcements of the new government, the population must judge by the facts. In practice, the government coalition has become a rebranding of the former coalition, New Majority, (Nueva Mayororia) but without the Christian Democrats (DC). Back again are the old politicians and parties (the Party for Democracy (PPD), the Socialist Party (PSCh) and the Radicals). All parties that legitimized Pinochet’s constitution for years and that attacked the interests of the workers and that were corrupted by the corporate financing of politics.

Boric at the time rightly criticized the Catholic Church for covering up child abuse; but he keeps conveniently silent about the corrupt past of his new government allies, simply to get more votes in Congress. It is a return to the old political practices that were criticized at the time by him.

In terms of public security and respect for human rights, no progress has been made in the alleged restructuring of the Carabineros – police. The proposals for profound changes in these militarized institutions have remained as announcements, with a few cosmetic changes. That is why we continue to see the brutal actions of the police in the face of mobilizations or protests.

In relation to the historic demands of the Mapuche people, the government repeats the same mistakes of the past. Without coordinating with the communities and lacking any serious proposals on which to advance, they attempted a failed meeting in Temucuicui.

You can not serve to two lords

The political and social crisis that opened in October 2019 continues on its course. None of the fundamental demands raised by the population have been answered. We are in the midst of a deep global crisis of capitalism, exacerbated by war, food and ecological catastrophe. In this context, a massive part of the population continues to be impoverished, while a small group of families continues to obtain multimillion-dollar profits. Thus, a government that plans to make profound changes for the benefit of the vast majority cannot at the same time protect the millionaire businesses of transnationals and of a few families.

An example of the above has been the appointment of Máximo Pacheco as Chairman of the Codelco board of directors – oil company. The government disregarded the complaints made by the National Federation of Oil Workers, in relation to the irregular bids and corruption that occurred while Pacheco was president of Enap.

On the other hand, the Minister of Mining, Marcela Hernando (Radical Party), in relation to the discussion of the mining royalties and the debate in the Convention, has indicated that: “we are not interested in raising the tax burden much and, in this way, losing the possibility of investment from other countries and even from companies that are ours.” In addition, he stressed that “it is not in President Boric’s program to nationalize, expropriate or scare away investment.”

It is quite clear that if the millionaire profits of the transnationals are not touched and the nationalization of natural resources is not fought for; it will be impossible to respond to the enormous needs of the population and take a leap in development.

Tensions and crisis of expectations

The government is already under enormous tension, both within the coalition; as well as opposition attacks. The government’s current opposition to a fifth withdrawal of the AFPs, without giving families an alternative to help, is opening cracks in the governing coalition. These tensions can lead to ruptures and divisions in the future.

The government proposals on the demand for a 5th withdrawal from the pension funds which workers have paid into is a total fraude and are aimed at preventing people withdrawing large amounts. It, in most cases only allows people to withdraw a fifth of what they previously withdrew. It also only allows withdrawals for specific issues like payments of debts. It is aimed at protecting the finance system. This issue has already caused a lot of discontent. Protests were organised. Including by the dock workers in Valparíso. The Communist Party which supported the proposals has entered a crisis as a result of it supporting the proposal.

There have also been tensions within the Constitutional Convention, where sections related to the former agreement and the current government have combined to stop the most radical reforms proposed by the commissions.

Undoubtedly, there are high expectations from broad sectors of the population regarding what this government can do. But this will decline along with its support if they do not see concrete measures that improve the standard of living.

The same can happen with the Convention and the new constitutional when it emerges. This will be fueled by the campaign of permanent attacks by the most conservative sectors of the country.

If there is no response and no way out, the crisis that opened in October will inevitably deepen. The alternative we have as workers and youth is to build our own independent and class organizations and parties of struggle. The need for a genuine program of revolutionary socialist transformations in the interest of the great majority and not of a few is essential to resolve the continuing crisis.


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April 2022