Thursday, March 20, 2008

The folowing is Part 3 of Larry Gambone's report on the present political situation in the country of Chile. See The Porkupine Blog for previous installments and for still more in the next few days.
Chile Today Part 3 - The Radical Left
I have already written about the Chilean anarchist movement and will say no more about it here, other than to say it is an important part of the opposition to neoliberalism and the corporate state.

The Communist Party. Like other Communist Parties I have observed, the Chilean party seems to have benefitted in the long run, ideologically and in practice, from the collapse of the USSR. Freed from having to give support to the policies of an ever-more conservative Soviet bureaucracy, these parties now adapt to their own national situations. (It must be remembered that during the Unidad Popular days, the CP was a conservative force in that alliance.) These reformed CP's now attempt to become a voice for the trade unions and social movements and do not seem to engage in the sectarian practices of yore. They are now willing to unite with other forces more radical than themselves. Their actual politics are left-social democratic, making them far more radical than the contemporary socialist and social democratic parties, which, as we have seen, have been corrupted by neoliberalism. However, while more militant than before, the CP is still on the "moderate" wing of the radical left.

While visiting Chile the only large circulation newspaper I could find that was worth reading was El Siglo, the CP weekly. There may have been other socialist weeklies but I never found any, and El Siglo was sold at most kiosks.

The party plays a major role in the CUT, the main trade union federation. (There is much criticism of the CUT by anarchists and other radicals. For an example of a more militant labour federation see CGT Mosicam.) Graffitti evidence of the Young Communists abounds. The CP gets about 5% of the vote and due to the restrictive nature of the voting system has no seats in either the Senate or Chamber of Deputies. They do have a fairly large number of municipal councellors, however.

The MIR. During the UP years the MIR was the most promising revolutionary force. It had thousands of members and was involved in land and factory occupations as well as the occasional armed action. For this it won the implacable hatred of the Pinochetistas and many members were tortured and murdered. The party broke apart in the 1980's and more or less dissolved by 1989. It reformed in 1990 and gave up armed struggle in 1997. Its original policies were supposedly Castroist, however, from what I read now the group seems to have adopted a Bolivarian approach. (See below.) I think the group is rather small and only saw one MIR graffitti. MIR has united with a host of other parties and groups in a broad anti-neo-liberal front called Junto PODEMOS Mas .

Junto PODEMOS Mas unites most of the non-anarchist left – including the Communist Party. Its policies are Bolivarian or left-wing populist i.e., broadly anti-neoliberal, favoring direct democracy, return of national resources, social reforms, trade union rights, Latin American unity, and opposition to racism and sexism. (I should add that I find this desire for unity a very positive direction.) PODEMOS got about 7% in the election to the Chamber of Deputies, but as in the case of the CP did not get any seats. The following groups belong to this front:
Partido Humanista
Partido Comunista de Chile
Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR)
Movimiento Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez
Izquierda Socialista
Movimiento Por el Socialismo
Identidad Rodriguista
Movimiento Fuerza Ciudadana
Partido Comunista Chileno Acción Proletaria
Izquierda Cristiana
Partido Alternativa Socialista
Cambio Democrático
Comité de Defensa y Recuperación del Cobre
Frente Amplio de Profesionales de Izquierda
Asambleas Populares
Comité de Defensa de Derechos Humanos y Sindicales
Coordinadora Metropolitana de Usuarios de la Salud Publica
Corporación Urracas de Emaus, and 36 other social, trade union and environmental groups.

Partido Ecologista. In the early 1980's there was a reasonably strong Green tendency in Chile. I don't know what happened to it, but there are a number of ecological groups. And judging by the millions of plastic bags polluting the countryside, the air pollution and the clear cuts, they cannot be all that effective. Just recently, Chilean Greens came together to form the Partido Ecologista and will be running in the up-coming election.

Trotskyists. I saw no overt evidence of Trotskyism in Chile. I know that a Trotskyist party, the PRT does belong to PODEMOS. But it is not one of the major groupings of the tendency, and is a split-off from the horrible Healyite WRP! Indeed, there does not seem to be any Mandelist, ISO or IMT organizations in Chile. Of course, compared with Argentina, Peru or Bolivia, Trotskyism has been weak here. I think it might be due to the fact that strong movements to the left of the Communist Party have always existed in Chile and people who would otherwise become Trotskyists join these organizations instead.

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