Statement by the International Workers’ Movement (MIT) Chile, translated to English by Tara
Although more than a year has passed since the start of the revolution in October 2019, we have seen that our most fundamental problems have yet to be resolved. Moreover, political and business elites are as corrupt as ever and only look to benefit themselves: the AFP Habitat pension scandal in which Piñera was involved, the barriers to recuperating the second 10% of the AFP pension funds when that money belongs to us, etc… In the meantime, the protests against Piñera are continued by healthcare workers demanding better and safer working conditions, by street vendors etc… Clearly this reality will only change because of our mobilization, but it must be a mobilization that makes strides because its organized and joins a worker’s movement that paralyzes production.
Today, the government and political and business elites tell us that all of these problems will be solved by the Constituent Process, or by trusting in our institutions and their democracy. But after 30 years of democracy by the rich we have seen that nothing has changed in our favor. And today, the Constituent Process has a lot of traps and pitfalls to guarantee that few things will change.
In the context of continued calls to organize our struggle and to maintain our presence in the streets and, it is important to participate in the Constituent Process with revolutionary and independent candidates. It is crucial to have candidates who represent the revolution and who refuse to sell false promises, but rather are clear in saying that the only way we can change our lives is through struggle. That is why we believe that the activists involved in the territorial assemblies, community kitchens, the first line for self-defense, among others, should make their own nominations for candidates who are independent of the same old parties and who have a project to engage in struggle. If this isn’t possible, then it is necessary to demand legal spaces within parties who say they defend the struggle (Broad Front; Humanist Party, Revolutionary Workers’ Party) without any political or financial conditions. In MIT we are nominating María Rivera as an independent candidate to the constituent assembly for district eight.
María is one of the female representatives of Dignity Plaza, a lawyer for those on the front lines, a defender of political prisoners, and one of those who lodged a formal complaint against Piñera for the human rights violations that were committed after October 18. Moreover, María has denounced the tricks of political parties and other elites including the Broad Front and the Communist Party of Chile.
A History of Struggle
Maria was born January 28, 1958, at barely twelve years old she began her political life as an activist in Salvador Allende’s campaign with Unidad Popular (Popular Unity), a candidate who had captured the revolutionary hope of activists and young people. Some years later in 1972, she became a high school activist in the Frente de Estudiantes Revolucionarios (FER) (Revolutionary Student Front) linked to MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionario) (Revolutionary Left Movement).
In 1980 she was imprisoned by the CNI (National Information Center), the state intelligence service during the Pinochet dictatorship. She was placed in the Borgoño barracks, one of the largest detention and torture centers of the dictatorship. She is a survivor of that time and place.
In 1983, Maria was exiled with her children to Argentina, where she joined MAS (Movement for Socialism). She militated in the party and elsewhere including in the working class neighborhoods of Lánus for seven years. In 1990 she was finally able to return to Chile to join the section of the International League of Workers (MIT in Chile) where she has been ever since.
In 2004 she was recognized as a survivor of political imprisonment and torture by the Pinochet regime in the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture Report, better known as the “Valech Report.” When working an activist for human rights, she decided to use her reparations scholarship to study law. In 2008 she was a founder of the Defensoría Popular (today called Defensa Popular, or Popular Defense), an organization of lawyers who represent victims of police and state repression free of charge. In 2020 she graduated from law school and has since become one of the principle figures and defenders of political prisoners and victims of repression.
What María Rivera and MIT Propose
Maria’s actions and discourse are rooted in the defense of the collective and revolutionary project: the building of the International Movement of Workers (MIT). As a candidate, María is working to fight against the antidemocratic traps of the constituent process, and calls for ongoing mobilizations for the following demands:
- Out with Piñera and all the rest!
- The immediate release of all political prisoners, and the defense of the front line so they can return to the streets and participate in the Constituent Process.
- Prosecution and punishment for all those responsible for the violation of human rights. Prison for Piñera, Rozas, and the interior ministers!
- The extension of the registration deadline to March for candidates
- Time off for assemblies to be held in the work place so the working class can discuss the Constituent Process and what kind of society they want to build
- The immediate delivery of the forms used to collect signatures in support of independent candidates.
- The reduction of the number of signatures needed for independent candidates to 0.1% of all voters in the last election, and in the case of joint lists the reduction should be 0.25% of all voters in the last election.
- The elimination of the certification of signatures.
- That each candidate is given equal air time on television during the campaign.
- The right for young people fourteen years-old and over to vote and participate
- The right for union and grassroots social leaders to participate without renouncing their positions.
- A minimum of 13% of seats in the constituent assembly for the Mapuche people
- The possibility for independent candidates to make pacts with one another with the same legal rights as other parties
- The elimination of the d’Hont system for proportional representation with direct elections of candidates
- Lower the two-thirds quorum to a simple majority
- The power and authority of delegates—and the Chilean working class—to undertake other tasks beyond the writing of a new constitution, including the forcing the resignation of government officials
- The return of not 10%, but rather 100% of all of our funds in the private pension system, this theft must end now
- Down with subcontracting, labor flexibilization, and the Labor Code. Permanent employment for all! The right to negotiate by sector!
- Defense of the Mapuche people. The demilitarization of Wallmapu and the return of indigenous lands. The right to self-determination!
- The end of misogynist violence, homophobia and transphobia, racism, xenophobia, and all types of oppression. For the unity of the working class and oppressed peoples to fight against elites.
- Renationalization of copper and other natural resources under the control of the working class.
- Free healthcare, education, and housing guaranteed by the State.
- To finance the above we need to fight to recuperate what the Luksic, Piñera, Matte, Angelini, and the other six richest families in this country have plundered over the last thirty years. We must expropriate their wealth and put it under working class control and therefore guarantee basic human necessities.
- Free and sovereign Constituent Assembly, without Piñera and all the rest
- Bring the working class to power through the revolution. Zero confidence in the parliament financed by big business. We will push to create new democratic working class organizations that will sustain a popular worker’s government,
- For the right and necessity of self-defense to advance our struggle.
As a part of LIT-CI, Maria’s candidacy defends the struggle for the rights of the working class on the international level. For this reason, we support the recent rebellions in the United States, Colombia, Peru, Libya, etc. The only way for these struggles to advance is if workers take power, but in order to organize this we have to build a collective tool, which is why María is working to build MIT and the LIT-CI.
The original version of this article can be found in Spanish here