By MST, the Chilean section of the IWU-FI
20 July 2022.
On 4 September, the exit referendum will take place, a mandatory vote to define whether we want to continue with the Pinochet-Lagos constitution or change it for the new constitutional proposal. Undoubtedly, a transcendent political event for those who fought in the streets during the popular rebellion of 2019-20 and know what is at stake that day. As MST, we have decided to call to “Approve the proposal against Pinochet’s constitution”. In this statement, we want to explain the reasons for this decision and invite you to take part in our campaign.
What is really at stake this 4 September?
The country that exploded during the 2019/20 rebellion expressed the massive and deep discontent with the corruption, injustices and social inequality imposed over the “30 years” period. The 1980s constitution, imposed in blood and fire by the Pinochet dictatorship, resulted in a brutally exploitative economic model, which left the working class at the service of the rapacity of US imperialism and multinationals, as well as the big Chilean economic groups.
With the full support of the former Concertacion (Concertation), they privatised social services, criminally repressed protests, and liquidated the dignified life of an entire people. The result was the emergence of enormous fortunes in the hands of a few families among the richest on the planet. That is why today, a wide range of corrupt and plunderers will vote rejection, from the far-right wing of Kast and the right of former presidents like Frei, together with obscure characters from the former Concertacion, openly led by big business.
In the MST, we believe it is crucial to keep the popular rebellion alive. We must end the Pinochet-Lagos constitution, and the nefarious legacy it has imprinted on the country against the welfare of millions of working families, women, sexual dissidence, native peoples and student and worker youth. The concrete task is to fight against rejection in the referendum.
The rejection is based on the lie that the country has been managed “responsibly and successfully” during the last decades, criminalising popular rebellion and mobilisations, imposing the deception that the Pinochet-Lagos constitution “only needs touching up”, and on top of that, that these reforms are made by the corrupt parliament, silencing the demands we are making in the streets.
So why approve?
We say approve, but we want to explain to you with total honesty and clarity our position on the Constitutional Convention, the new constitution and those sectors that lead the approval campaign, starting with the government and its parties. This explanation will help to understand how we went from 80 per cent support in the first referendum to the difficulties we are facing in the current campaign.
In the MST, we are aware of this since the “Peace Agreement”, which started the constituent process. The agreement, and its conditions, were imposed behind the backs of the people and the working class between the main political forces of the country (right-wing, former Concertacion and Frente Amplio) to avoid the fall of Piñera as a result of the massive mobilisations that radicalised in mid-November 2019.
Then, once the constituent process had begun, we continued to denounce that the convention would not impose the necessary changes and it would be controlled by the country’s big businessmen, through their parties and some fake “independents”. And so it was. Together with the former Concertacion and the Frente Amplio (Broad Front), the right-wing killed off any necessary and profound changes to the country in the new text. The Communist Party, which announced that it would “surround the convention” with mobilisations, did not lift a finger to call for massive demonstrations to demand solutions from the CC.
A year and months later, the constitutional convention gave birth to a text that does not touch any of the pillars of the economic model and the political regime imposed by the dictatorship. In fact, it resolves none of the urgent demands expressed in the popular rebellion. This text is a long way from ending inequality, corruption and injustice, and this is how millions of working men and women, along with other sectors, feel. This is the basis for strengthening the rejection.
We do not deny partial advances in the new text, proposals that seem necessary and legitimate. But it is not enough to say that this text is better than Pinochet’s but to read it in the light of the interests of the working class and popular sectors. The MST does not support this new text, which maintains capitalism in Chile intact; our support is solely and exclusively against Pinochet’s legacy.
In this sense, we are not represented by the official Apruebo (Approved) campaign, much less by the current government and its parties. Boric keeps the military in Wallmapu, represses student protests, defends the Carabineros (police), and refuses to take measures against businessmen in favour of millions of working families amid one of the worst economic crises we have ever suffered. He tells us that it is enough to approve to solve all our problems. It’s a lie.
The urgent changes today are to address the desperation of families who can no longer live with rising prices and miserable salaries, including the growing unemployment, the femicides and hate crimes against sexual dissidence, or the brutal situation of the Mapuche nation in Wallmapu, without solving the terrible situation of the student body or repressing them with police and militia. To say that you can campaign for approval with promises for the future, without resolving the immediate demands, is paving the way for an easy victory from the right wing. We refuse to support those who, with left-wing discourse, has been governing in the same way as the right and the former Concertacion.
A campaign for approval based on the demands of the popular rebellion.
We approve against Pinochetism and taking inheritance, but taking up the demands of the massive struggles of the popular rebellion. We say:
We approve and demand freedom for the Chilean and Mapuche political prisoners.
We approve and demand price controls now, an end to the inflation caused by the employers, minimum wages equal to the true cost of living, and a ban on dismissals and suspensions.
We approve and say for immediate laws against sexist violence against women and sexual dissidence. For the recognition of all their rights and demands now.
We approve and say Education, health and housing state, quality and free of charge now.
We approve and say an end to the state of exception in Wallmapu. Out with the militias and the forestry companies. For the self-determination of the Mapuche nation in their territory.
We approve and say that all natural resources should be handed over to the state under workers’ control now.
We approve and say dissolution of the Carabineros, trial and punishment of all military and civilian repressors, starting with Piñera and the high command of the Armed Forces and Carabineros, guilty of the atrocities during the popular rebellion.
Our approval is a call not only to organise a commando against the rejection but also to organise ourselves to confront the current economic crisis by mobilising in the streets, demanding an emergency plan to make the rich pay and not the working families. To show solidarity with all the struggles, and to promote all the demands in a national petition that unites us all.