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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

Ongoing Protests in Chile

Updated: May 31, 2020

Typically mainstream news reporting on the ongoing civil protests throughout Chile claim that the latter were in response to a 30 peso increase Santiago Metro's subway fares. What never gets talked about much is how all of this was foreseeable given the economic reality in Chile for the past 30 years. Chile has been the sacrifice zone for extreme neoliberal policies--which has meant deregulating and privatizing everything--education, healthcare, transportation, housing--massively enriching a small portion of the population and impoverishing the majority of Chileans.

Immediately following the 1970 election of the first Marxist President in Chile, Salvador Allende, Henry Kissinger discussed with CIA director Richard Helm the possibility of a preemptive coup in Chile. The World Bank, the IMF the CIA, the US State Department and Chile’s economic elites were salivating at the prospect of turning Chile into a 'neoliberal experiment' in austerity. The neoliberal offensive had its inaugural moment on another infamous September 11th--September 11th 1973, when General Augusto Pinochet, with full US backing led a bloody coup d’e ́tat against Allende's government.

The Chilean junta’s free market policies, their hatred of socialism and rank hostility toward any state welfare functions were informed and guided by the Chicago school of economic neoliberal thugs led by economist Milton Friedman with Henry Kissinger as the Go-Between. They called it Operacio ́n Co ́ndor – a secret multinational effort aimed at eliminating left-wing and popular opposition.

The present constitution which legalized the neoliberal regime was written in 1980 during the reign of Augusto Pinochet. It is still in place.

If there is a solution to the current crisis it will not be found in the present constitution. What many in Chile are calling for is a new foundational document that completely repudiates neoliberalism and creates a new charter through a constituent assembly with the participation of diverse social groups.

Short of a revolution that is an unlikely outcome. Whether the present demonstrations will continue is an open question--eventually people have to go back to work and a desire to return things to normal--as bad as it is--will take hold. The hope is that the all too quiet left will actually step up and help build a wide ranging anti-government movement

It is clear that neoliberalism in Chile will continue as far as the present leadership is concerned. Today the billionaire president, Sebastián Piñera continues to protect himself and respond to protests through lockdowns and armed security forces that are just fine with violating human rights--7000 arrested, 4000 disappeared 36 people killed, thousands injured as of February 2020.

It is also clear that Piñera and his ministers don't belong in government.

They belong in prison.

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