Sun Feb 05, 2023
February 05, 2023

Chile | A new top-down agreement to break the people’s will

Leaders of the political parties of the 30 years [1] launched a Manifesto on 11 August. The aim of the Manifesto is to make “clarifications and amendments” to the new Constitution that will be submitted to a referendum on September 4.

By MIT-Chile

The leaders of the PC (Communist Party), Convergencia Social (FA), Revolución Democrática (FA), PPD, PR, FRVS, Liberal Party, A. Humanista and Movimiento Unir signed it. All of their parties are under the umbrella of the Boric government.

The parties of the 30 years seek to definitively break the people’s will, established in the referendum that called for a Constituent Convention and the drafting of a new Constitution without the participation of the repudiated parliament. It is a continuation of the agreement by the parties of the regime on 15 November 2019 that limited the sovereignty of the Constituent Convention imposing a quorum of ⅔ [which meant a veto power of the right-wing minority] and the respect for the institutions of the 1980 Constitution. That Peace Agreement severely restricted the powers of the new Constituent Convention: it prevented it from ousting President Piñera, from touching the Free Trade Agreements, and from having the power to release political prisoners, among other things. That agreement, which the Communist Party initially did not support, was applauded the next day by its president Guillermo Tellier. Now the CP is one of the first to sign this new agreement. Would they, taking part in the Boris government, be prone to surrendering to big business and the right-wing? Would they, once again, be willing to show their face as agents of capitalism among the people, as they did when they were part of the Bachelet government?

This is consistent with the agreement with the UDI to reduce the quorum for the reform of the new Constitution in parliament to 4/7, something that in numbers translates into a reduction of the quorum to 89 deputies, from 103, and to 29 senators, from 33. The right-wing will take advantage of this lowered quorum acting as a bloc.

The new agreement is another step to bring the new Constitution under the reins of the parliament (although it is established that many points in it will be submitted to Congress, “the law”), where any change depends on the will of the RN, UDI, Evópoli and PDG. They all forget that 79% of the voters opted to leave the congressmen out of the Constituent Convention, as the “mixed” option was rejected in the starting referendum.

The Agreement signed by the pro-government parties touches on 5 points: Plurinationality; Social Rights; Security; Political System; and Judiciary. We cannot deceive ourselves by saying that it is a resounding change to what was announced in the new Constitution. It just proposes “clarifications and amendments” that make totally explicit issues that are just implicit in the new Constitution but which left some degree of uncertainty for big business. That is why the MIT, although calling to vote for Approve to ensure some rights that achieved constitutional recognition (abortion, health, housing, education, collective agreement, right to strike, etc.), call at the same time to prepare a sustained organisation and struggle, led by the workers, to turn these rights into reality by nationalising copper to fund them; to stop the plunder imposed by the 10 richest families in this country; to defend ourselves from the repressive apparatus that this new Constitution will maintain and to confront president Boric and his attacks. In its first months, the government maintains the militarisation of Wallmapu, hasn’t brought Piñera, Rozas and Yañez to account, and continues the plunder of our natural wealth, the trampling of labour rights and the damaging of sacrifice zones such as Quintero and Ventanas.

The issues covered by the new Agreement

Plurinationality: The recognition of indigenous peoples is explicitly left under the tutelage of the judiciary and the Supreme Court, i.e. subjected to the justice of the rich that has defended the interests of the forestry companies for decades. It also establishes further limitations on indigenous consultation and territorial “autonomy.”

Social Rights: It makes it explicit that the AFPs (private pension funds) and their theft will continue to exist. This agreement makes explicit what the new constitution does not deny: it will not put an end to the AFPs. Regarding the National Health System, it also makes it explicit that private health and its business for profit will be maintained (the new Constitution does not say that it would put an end to it either). The same on Education, it makes explicit that subsidised private education will be maintained, that is, there will be public funding to private schools business.

Security: To appease big business, it strengthens repression substituting a “State of Emergency due to serious alteration of public security” for the State of Exception, authorising the military to intervene just as they did under the Piñera government in 2019.

Political System: It further restricts Congress’s powers and concentrates them on the President. For example, the power to present parliamentary motions that directly involve state spending is eliminated and it limits spending by territorial entities.

Judicial Power: It proposes replacing the term “Justice System” with “Judicial Power” and makes it explicit that the qualification of judges for the Council of Justice will not consider the content of their rulings.

We see that this is clearly a yielding to the cries of big business and to the impetus that the rejection campaign has taken on behalf of lies and inventions, which is also based on a real and fully justified discontent with the Boric government and the Constitutional Convention, which fell short of satisfying the key needs of the working people. All this is another way of kowtowing to big businessmen, against whom we rise up on 18 October 2019.

However, the traditional parties forget that the working class took to the streets against that “kitchen” on October 18, against the “spicy dishes” cooked up by the parties of the 30 years, including the CP, which was part of the New Majority, all in defence of the capitalists and the 10 richest families of this country: Luksic, Piñera, Angelini, Matte, Ponce Lerou, etc. Once again, they mock the popular will expressed in years of mobilisation, and once again they show that despite calling themselves “communists” or “pro-people”, they are on the side of the capitalist class.

But what else could we expect from a government that has repressed striking workers? What could we expect from Boric, who said Piñera would pay for his crimes, yet today he enjoys complete impunity? Not to mention Micco, former director of the National Institute of Human Rights. What could we expect from a government that, after taking office, meets with the copper multinational owners allowing them to continue plundering our resources? What could we expect from a candidate who campaigned for the political prisoners but in government continues to file lawsuits to imprison them? Clearly, from Boric, the Frente Amplio and the CP, we can only expect more betrayals of the workers.

The only way out is the working-class independent fight. We call on all trade unions, social movements, and even the independent constituents to prepare the struggle from now on to guarantee the minimum gains achieved in the new Constitution (right to strike, collective agreement, right to abortion, Mapuche lands, some social rights, etc.), and to repudiate this new “kitchen” agreement. They have already undermined us enough with the Peace Agreement just to impose more limits again. Only mobilisation and independent organisation will bring us and guarantee us new achievements.

However, the MIT and comrade María Rivera, a former Convention member, make it clear: these institutions are at the service of the rich, and the new Constitution maintains their plunder. That is why we proposed and will continue to defend the dissolution of all state powers to replace them with a Plurinational Assembly of the Workers and the Peoples, based on workers’ democracy and their mechanisms of self-defence against the attacks of big business.

Notes:

[1] – The parties that have ruled the country over the last 30 years after Pinochet’s ousting.

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