[CHILE] There is No Way to Defeat Neoliberalism Without Defeating the Piñera Regime

The following is an interview of Compañera María Rivera, member of the IWL section in Chile, the International Workers’ Movement (Movimiento Internacional de los Trabajadores), and public defender. Since the beginning of the anti-government protests in October, Compañera María has become one of the faces of Chile’s revolutionary movement thanks to her principled and consistent defense of militants facing off with police and paramilitaries at demonstrations, as well as her work to release political prisoners as a public defender. Here we present an English translation of an interview conducted by a member of PST Colombia, with additional edits for clarity.
Interviewer: Hello, I’m here with María Rivera, militant of the International Workers’ Movement of Chile (IMT), activist, and public defender. María, I’d like to ask you to tell us, the broader socialist public, a bit of what’s been going on in Chile.
María: Hello, thank you for conducting this interview. I’d like to talk a bit about Chile: on the 18th of October, the country entered a revolutionary process. This didn’t come out of nowhere, but rather has its origins in the resistance against the politics of the years of the Pinochet dictatorship, during which the neoliberal mode of governance was first applied. The entire economy was privatized, all of the social services as well, leaving the working class without medical care, without education, without resources: all power has been concentrated in the hands of private ownership. This is a political project that began in the 1980s, and today we can see the disasters that it has caused, as well as the seeds of revolution that it has planted in Chile.
I: Many people agree with this anti-neoliberal analysis, but there seems to be disagreement on the ground about how to exit this crisis situation. How can Chile move on from this situation? Is the task at hand simply to change and reform neoliberalism, or is the only way out from here the total defeat of the Piñera government in Chile (Ed: Sebastián Piñera is the current president of Chile.)
M: Well, what those of us in the MIT believe is that there is essentially no way to defeat this model of neoliberalism without defeating the Piñera regime and its corrupt parliament, and in doing so deepening the revolutionary struggle in order to not only defeat neoliberalism but the rest of the capitalist system along with it.
I: We’ve seen mass demonstrations with strong popular momentum from October until December 2019. Since then, at least according to the media, things seemed to have calmed down during January. But now, in this last month we’re seeing once again street fighting between militants and the police, and we can clearly see that the movement hasn’t gone away. Now that we’re entering March, what is your opinion of the current situation?
M: What we have to say is that the movement has not been shut down. Every revolutionary process has its ups and downs: sometimes many people pour into the streets, sometimes not so many. But what we have seen here is that the Piñera government has no solutions for this situation other than to use more repression against the masses. They have done nothing to solve the actual problems faced by the people. The masses of Chile have made an explosive break and declared that this isn’t an issue of just 30 pesos (Ed: the original protests in October were directly sparked by an attempt to raise metro fares by 30 pesos, roughly 3¢ USD) but rather an issue of 30 years. It all has to do with the capitalist system. The people’s mobilization continues, and people can see clearly the central role that the police play in oppressing the working class with brutal repression.
I: Speaking of repression, on one hand we know that there’s been a massive international solidarity movement standing alongside the victims of state repression in Chile. We’ve seen reports of the horrifying numbers of protestors that have been wounded or raped, with many of them losing their vision in one or both eyes as a result of police brutality. We are aware that many of the protestors have been charged with sedition, and that the MIT has thus considered it a core point of its political line to condemn the actions of the Chilean police against the public.
M: We have seen a sharp increase in the level of repression in Chile. Although we’ve had other recent cases of torture and human rights abuses, such as in 2006, it’s only been since the 18th of October that these abusues have become the constant mode of operation for the Chilean state. We in the MIT have issued statements directed at the police and the military, insisting that they stop oppressing their own people, because in reality it’s the same policemen’s friends and families that are marching in the streets right now. We tell the police that their families also deserve rights, and we are asking them to come join our side, to grow the struggle of the people united against the government. Nevertheless, we have had almost three thousand people imprisoned, more than 400 have been partially or completely blinded by the police, many have been raped, and we’ve also seen tons of other crimes perpetrated by the police. We are anticipating a massive expansion of the number of participants in demonstrations; since March 2nd, there have been mass marches and strikes organized around the demands of the resignation of the government, an end to repression, and freedom for political prisoners.
I: In the past, we’ve seen that what happens in Chile travels through the rest of the world as well. In Colombia, since November 21st we’ve seen the beginning of an important battle, and for those of us in Colombia, Chile’s example has played an important role. We have a saying in Colombia that “Colombia has woken up just like Chile”, and you can see in the Colombian marches that Chilean flags are flown alongside the Colombian ones. Could you say a few words to the people protesting in Colombia, who have risen up alongside Chile in this moment of struggle?
M: Well, really I should say that there’s been a revolutionary wave across the world, in Chile and Colombia but also in France, Hong Kong, etc. These uprisings have different objectives and methods, but what’s common across these countries is that the workers of the world are standing up and fighting. We see the ravages of decadent imperialism, capitalist systems applied by various governments that don’t have answers for the problems of the masses because the capitalist class does not care about these problems. They don’t care that refugees are dying in the Mediterranean Sea, and we can plainly see the barbarity of this system. In particular in Latin America, we’ve had a tradition of struggle against the machinations of imperialism, and thus my message to the people of Colombia is that the entire global proletariat needs to take up the objective of defeating capitalism, and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that we can do it, we the united workers and peasants of the world. We need to advance the project of socialist revolution, because it is the only political movement that can defeat capitalism’s savagery. We must continue to follow this path to revolution and a better world.
I: Thank you very much Compañera María. This is a reminder to the people of Colombia and the international working class, to the working women of the world, that this March is our opportunity to continue the struggle of working women. And I’d ask everyone to continue to stand in solidarity with Compañera Maria Rivera, to support her as she continues her work despite the threats that she has faced from the police and paramilitaries, because these threats that she faces in Chile are the same ones that we face in Colombia.

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