[Marxism] Chile Awakes - Eyewitness Report from Santiago, Chile

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Fri Aug 26 11:25:36 MDT 2011

Chile Awakes - Eyewitness Report from Santiago, Chile

by Dan Morgan

Published by Portside

Santiago, Chile 24 August 2011.

Chile has really woken from its long, anesthetized, 'centre-

left' induced slumber. Dozens of university faculties and

secondary schools have been on strike now for 3 months,

often combined with sit-in occupations.

The market model of education is being actively rejected by

virtually all organizations of students, teachers and


On August 4th, the government decreed 'enough was enough'

and banned two planned marches in Santiago. The result -

chaos, and literally hundreds of tear gas bombs choking the

center of the city. Then, that night, the first of weekly

'cacerolazos', protest banging of pots and pans, heard in

working class and middle class neighborhoods on a massive


Since then, more massive marches, last week on one of the

few wet days of the year. About a hundred thousand marched

and also blocked the anarchist minority who usually give the

TV images of violent behavior, which muddy the message. Big

marches also in almost all provincial capitals.

On Sunday 21st, a march to a concert in Santiago's biggest

park, close to a million people, and popular artists. August

24th and 25th, the Trade Union Confederation CUT called for

a general strike, for labor, social and economic reforms. As

usual, the danger of dismissal meant relatively low support

in the private sector. This year, there was also a campaign

of terror by the government to public sector workers but

they supported it by a large majority.

The call for free, quality public education is the key

demand of the moment, and in 4 huge marches in Santiago, and

again almost all cities, the response was overwhelming.

Hundreds of thousands jammed the main street (and not a

policeman in sight until well after the crowds had gone).

Far from fading, the movement just continues to grow.

Linked to the demand for an end to the market system of

education, other demands are gaining support:

               * Re-nationalization of copper (the state Copper

               Corporation was never privatized but giving new

               deposits to BHP etc. means that 70% of production is

               now private).

               * A thorough tax reform, to change Chile's

               incredibly regressive tax regime.

               * A plebiscite to decide on free education.

               * A constituent assembly, to plan a new


Even many politicians from the Concertación coalition which

managed the neo-liberal model for 20 years, are re-

discovering some radical principles and supporting the

growing tide of discontent.

Last week the government announced its third package of

measures to try to stop the protests. Some money has been

found, to reduce the interest rate paid on student loans to

2% (from 5.6%), and give scholarships to more poor students.

Totally inadequate, say the university, and secondary

students' federations.

The pro-market forces show signs of desperation in their

statements and actions. The main newspapers, of course,

print articles with ever more spurious arguments for the

present model.

The President of one of the two government parties has said

"we must not give way to a load of useless subversives ..."

An ex-military, pro-fascist mayor of a well-heeled suburb

described Camila Vallejo, the popular President of the

University of Chile Students as having "a demonized face",

and the Teachers' College President as "pollerudo", an

insulting term like 'mummy's boy', for a man who allows

himself to be led by a woman.

Victory may not come this year but Chile is awake, and all

the elements of the 'Chicago Boys' model, imposed with blood

and iron, are under attack.

More information about the Marxism mailing list