Sunday, March 16, 2008

The following is the second installment of Larry Gambone's writings(see the Porkupine Blog for the original and further installments) on his recent visit to Chile. The first installment was presented earlier on this blog, and it dealt with the present anarchist movement in Chile. This article deals with the general political situation in Chile, relating to the government and its main opposition.
Chile Today Part 2 The Social Neoliberals
Chile has been governed by a coalition of Christian Democrats (DC) and social democrats (Socialist Party and Popular Democrats) since the return to so-called democracy. Back in the days of the Unidad Popular, the DC was old style social democratic and the SP was more radical than the Communist Party. Today, all these parties are economically neo-liberal, lock stock and barrel, ironically (or perhaps not so ironically) adopting the underlying ideology of their old torturer and murderer, Augusto Pinochet.

When a socialist or social democratic party tosses aside its basic principles, it announces to the world that it is corrupted in spirit. Thus, it comes as no surprise when such a party becomes corrupted in practice. True to form the Concertacion, (the name given to the DC-SP-PD coalition) is now mired in scandal. The Alianza (the Pinochetista opposition coalition or Los Momios) is making hay out of this situation, an amusing situation where the corrupt are calling the corrupted to account!

The scandals relate directly to the neo-liberal methods adopted by the Concertacion. Rather than instituting a proper state or community-run system of education – like in Canada or Europe – they chose to funnel government money to private concerns. Naturally, along the way some officials also dipped their hands in this pig trough. Then there is the hideous mess that is Santiago transit. Pinocho had destroyed the previous public system, handing transit over to scores of private concerns, resulting in a kind of Wild West in the streets. Rather than rectifying this disaster by creating a public transit system – like every other large city in the world – the Concertacion shovelled money into the hands of 10 or so capitalist transit corporations, and the result, as one might expect, is chaos. (Remember, I am talking about a city with six million inhabitants, not some one horse town)

Then there is that favorite of brown shirts the world over – the crime problem. And it does exist – people get ripped off all the time by pick pockets, muggers and burglars. The mass media, if anything even more vile than our own, spare no effort in reminding the readers of this situation. But then what do you expect in a society without any social welfare and a great mass of unemployed and under-employed people, some of whom are still living in tin shacks on dried up river beds or beside highway overpasses? And even if you have a job, 75% of Chileans earn less than $420 a month in a land where most prices are about as high as in Canada. There is a lot of petty crime. Gee, I wonder why? The Alianza blame the Concertacion for being soft on crime and drag out the no brainer of harsher punishment.

There is an election coming and it is quite possible the Pinocho crowd may gain the upper hand. I look upon this with some trepidation, for as bad as the Concertacion is, they have refused to be a stooge for the US in relation to the growing popular movements in Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia. The Gringostate already has death squad and narcotrafficante-run Columbia as its stalking horse. I would hate to see Chile as part of this criminal endeavor.

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