Friday, August 26, 2011

Chile Rebirth

One million chanting "The people united will never be defeated"

These are the awe inspiring scenes of mass mobilisation in Chile. The acute trigger is the privatisation of the education system, the underlying trigger is relentless and ever widening social and financial inequality. If the population of any country in the world knows about neoliberal poilicies it is the Chileans. Indeed probably the most influential critique of capitalism of our generation; Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine essentially rewrites the history of neoliberalism and it began not with Thatcher and Reagan but rather with Friedman, the Chicago boys and economic shock therapy and Chile. The most brutal and murderous of regimes was required in order to repress the people from uprising against the loss of their hopes and freedoms. The model was a success for the cold heart of capital accumulation and 'free' markets. Appropriately weighted corporate media, the IMF, CIA led embedding of dictatorships, autocrats or just right wing imperial friendly governments, both overtly and covertly became the apparatus that enabled the neoliberal march to global domination.

In Chile it is clear that enough is enough and amongst many others a new leader is born. Camila Vallejo Dowling a 23 year old, geography student at the University of Chile and president of the Student Federation has as one reporter writes "... has become the most popular and inspiring leader of the current and massive student movement that have brought to its knees, for the last 3 months, Sebastián Piñera’s right wing government. Even opinion polls carried out by media supporters of the current government can’t ignore the truth; Camilla is the most popular activist/politician in Chile with nearly 70% approval. Clearly she is not the only leader that fights for the cause of education in Chile, as it is really a whole generation of eloquent, savvy and dedicated youth, but Camila has become the most visible face of this, thus far, peaceful rebellion"

Camila is daughter of Communist Party members who fought against Pinochet;s repressive regime, the regime that the CIA installed after murdering Salvador Allende, the first democratically elected socialist leader in Latin America. Allende intended to address inequality and redistribute wealth and opportunity by nationalizing industries and actioning land and agricultural reforms with many small and cooperatively owned farms.

Camila has risen to the fore and as one writer reports: "attracted international media attention for her youth, her beauty and eloquence, but more importantly for the clarity and accessibility of her policy proposals and the strong resistance to the counter proposals driven by the government that have failed to illicit support from the public" and "Her voice and attitude reveals a measured, unhurried and very charismatic personality that has a deep understanding, unlike many of her elders, of the power of the media and social networks, Camilla seems undeterred even in the face of repeated death threats received, some even clumsily sent via Twitter and issued by government officials aligned with the Piñera government"

In an attempt to discredit Camila, other prominent activists and the protests in general, Chile's corporate media seem only to be fanning the flames as the above video showing the most remarkable scenes of solidarity demonstrates. The AlJazeera report below reveals that the protesters are not interested in compromise, and government officials will have to find real solutions if they want to restore relative calm. In the face of ongoing hunger strikes and a call by the largest worker’s group in the country for a general strike it seems fitting that with the neoliberalism that was first imposed in Chile, that it is these great people that are now bravely showing the rest of us the meaning of people power and with all sincerity and hope that together we can change the system, the system that after all is meant to represent us all and not the interests of the wealthy few. It is also clear that president Allende's final words have been far from forgotten and as he himself has said that his 'sacrifice will not be in vain'

Salvador Allende's Last Words to the Nation

My friends,

Surely this will be the last opportunity for me to address you. The Air Force has bombed the towers of Radio Portales and Radio Corporación.

My words do not have bitterness but disappointment. May they be a moral punishment for those who have betrayed their oath: soldiers of Chile, titular commanders in chief, Admiral Merino, who has designated himself Commander of the Navy, and Mr. Mendoza, the despicable general who only yesterday pledged his fidelity and loyalty to the Government, and who also has appointed himself Chief of the Carabineros [national police].

Given these facts, the only thing left for me is to say to workers: I am not going to resign!

Placed in a historic transition, I will pay for loyalty to the people with my life. And I say to them that I am certain that the seed which we have planted in the good conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shriveled forever.

They have strength and will be able to dominate us, but social processes can be arrested neither by crime nor force. History is ours, and people make history.

Workers of my country: I want to thank you for the loyalty that you always had, the confidence that you deposited in a man who was only an interpreter of great yearnings for justice, who gave his word that he would respect the Constitution and the law and did just that. At this definitive moment, the last moment when I can address you, I wish you to take advantage of the lesson: foreign capital, imperialism, together with the reaction, created the climate in which the Armed Forces broke their tradition, the tradition taught by General Schneider and reaffirmed by Commander Araya, victims of the same social sector which will today be in their homes hoping, with foreign assistance, to retake power to continue defending their profits and their privileges.

I address, above all, the modest woman of our land, the campesina who believed in us, the worker who labored more, the mother who knew our concern for children. I address professionals of Chile, patriotic professionals, those who days ago continued working against the sedition sponsored by professional associations, class-based associations that also defended the advantages which a capitalist society grants to a few.

I address the youth, those who sang and gave us their joy and their spirit of struggle. I address the man of Chile, the worker, the farmer, the intellectual, those who will be persecuted, because in our country fascism has been already present for many hours -- in terrorist attacks, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railroad tracks, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to protect them. They were committed. History will judge them.

Surely Radio Magallanes will be silenced, and the calm metal instrument of my voice will no longer reach you. It does not matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be next to you. At least my memory will be that of a man of dignity who was loyal to [inaudible] the workers.

The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves. The people must not let themselves be destroyed or riddled with bullets, but they cannot be humiliated either.

Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open again where free men will walk to build a better society.

Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!

These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I am certain that, at the very least, it will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice, and treason.

Santiago de Chile, 11 September 1973

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