Exclusive: Why Chile could soon return to the ‘Allende’ days of socialism

CHILE could return to a radical political environment not seen since the days of Salvador Allende, a leading academic and campaigner told Redaction Politics.

The protests started in November after a train fare hike which turned into a wider protest against neoliberalism and the state.

Millions of demonstrators are now seeking constitutional reform, the resignation of President Sebastian Pinera and an overhaul of free-market politics.

Redaction Politics spoke exclusively to Professor Marie-Christine Doran, who was stattoned in Chile alongside the Canadian Human Rights Observation Mission.

Speaking of the pluralistic nature and sheer size of the protests, she said: “Some experts have qualified this as a revolution because of the huge convergence of many different social and political sectors that have been pushing for a new constution via a constituent assembly.

“This will be settled by a vote in April.

“The constitution still in place in Chile is the one inherited from Pinochet. It is very much authoritarian.”

The group observed several human rights violations during the protests, including sexual violence, beatings and tear gas.

They have raised concerns that the police are deliberately aiming at protestors’ eyes, while journalists have been shot at.

Chile’s National Institute of Human Rights confirmed today that almost 10,000 people have been arrested since the inception of the protests.

Professor Doran claimed the repression of the democratic protests have not put off the protestors, who continue to turn out every Friday to put pressure on the state.

Credit: Marie-Christine Doran

She added: “Something happened in Chile as soon after the return of democracy – there was a centre-left coalition which included the Socialist Party and centrists.

“They kept political and economic stability and upheld the amnesty given to those from the Pinochet regime.

“Perseverance from grassroots groups eventually led to the detention of Pinochet in the UK.

“This was proof that there was something very wrong with the Chilean government.

“This was a trigger for a new form of social movements, such as the 2003 General Strike and the desire for a constituent assembly.”

Credit: Mark Scott Johnson

Michelle Bachelet, elected in 2006, made concessions to the Chilean population which pacified any revolutionary fervour.

But the election of Mr Pinera in 2010, and then 2018, was a trigger for new left-wing coalitions to form in resistance to the state.

Professor Doran said: “There is a real desire to bring about the constituent assembly.

“The government has an approval rate of just 3 percent.

“There is a shift in international support against the Chilean government due to this repression, such as the European Union’s denunciation.

“The political parties are not so hegemonic in this process. This is a feminist revolution, a grassroots revolution, an indigenous revolution, men and women alike wearing the purple feminist flag.

Credit: Marie-Christine Doran

“I have never seen anything like this in Chile. I was not alive for the Allende revolution but this is definitely comparable.”

Listen to the full interview with Marie-Christine Doran by becoming a Patron here: https://www.patreon.com/RedactionPolitics

Marie-Christine Doran is a Professor at the School of Political Studies at University of Ottawa and a Director of the Observatory on Violence, criminalization of protest and democracy.


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