Class Struggle in Chile: President Piñera At War With His Own People

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1917 ... October 25, 2019
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Class Struggle in Chile: President Piñera At War With His Own People

Euan Gibb

Chile has been held up for decades as South America’s clearest example of the stability possible when neoliberal policies are adopted and implemented as if they were religious tenets. The country is now in a situation of open rebellion. This revolt has exploded in Chile exactly as a result of the consequences of those same policies.

President Sebastián Piñera and the Chilean government’s brutally violent repression has led to at least 18 deaths. More than 5000 people have been detained or arrested. There are literally hundreds of videos of frighteningly vicious military and police actions against the Chilean population circulating on social media. The increasingly desperate tactics of curfews, a state of emergency, repression, public denigration of demonstrators as criminals and unashamed violence are bringing more people into the streets every day. Each intensification of repression causes the streets to fill with even more energy the next day. And that energy is already incredible.

Yesterday, more than 20 ports... were shut down by dock workers. Today and tomorrow trade unions across the country have called for and are actively organizing a general strike.

How could all of this possibly be a response to a 30 peso (about 4 cents USD) public transport fare hike? Of course it is not. But transport is expensive. A minimum wage worker in Santiago pays as much as 15 per cent of their wage on public transportation if they take a bus or metro twice a day. In a country where more than half the population earns less than the official minimum wage. But of course, any rebellion of this depth and scale requires much more fuel.

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