August 18, 2021

by the Executive Committee of the MIT and constitutional constituent María Rivera, translated to English by Rita Brown

Last week we were surprised by the split that occurred within the List of the People in which two sectors of the executive committee exchanged public accusations. This break occurred after an internal election had announced Cristian Cuevas as the presidential candidate for the List of the People. A few days later, a sector of the executive committee questioned and invalidated the decision, which is what apparently led to the split. Following that, the sector that continued in leadership presented three “pre” presidential candidates who would participate in a sort of “primary” where they would present supporter’s signatures to the Electoral Service. The candidate able to gather 33,000 signatures by August 23 will be proclaimed the candidate for the List of the People.

MIT (Moviemiento Internacional de Trabajadores, International Workers’ Movement) and our comrade and constituent María Rivera were not present in this deliberation process because in the months following the List of the People Congress (Congreso de la Lista) held after the election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention, we saw that the path taken by the List of the People was not going to offer a true alternative for working people. As a result we decided to stop participating in the internal spaces which were becoming more bureaucratic and less directed by popular participation. We have continued to work with the elected independent constituents in ways that don’t affect our independence both inside and outside the Convention. Nevertheless, it is our obligation to make our position known in light of this rupture.

What has caused the rupture in the  List of the People?

The List of the People and the independents involved in the elections this past May 16, 2021 had a major impact on politics. At the time we wrote “The List of the People has become an important electoral alternative to counter the obstacles that institutionalism imposes on independent candidates. We recognize that it is an important space of unity for activists and that it has grown out of social mobilizations with the purpose of presenting proposals in the Constituent Assembly elections to fight to get independent people’s candidates into the future Constitutional Convention.”

Nevertheless in the months that followed, the List of the People increasingly became an electoral apparatus. We had already noted that the List of the People was moving in that direction in the last statement we published before the Convention elections: “In this context, the List of the People will hold a two-day Congress (24-25 of April). The topic proposed doesn’t focus on the country’s political situation but rather electoral topics and the formation of a new organization, the People’s Assembly, that in our opinion is on the path to forming a political party with a program and an organization that is very similar to already existing parties. We are not against political parties because we too are a political organization, but the most important thing is the program that a political organization stands for, and the interests they defend within society”.

After the Constituent Elections, the List of the People moved towards negotiations for parliamentary, CORE (regional councils) and presidential elections. We don’t see that as a problem in and of itself. The problem is that after the important victory at the Constituent Elections, the List of the People failed to use this platform of 27 independent elected officials to create a political alternative distinct from traditional parties, with a clear program for change that questions the limitations of the present Convention restricted by Law 21.200 (the Peace Agreement), and that supports itself by organizing the people in order to deepen the current social movement. Instead, the List of the People continued on its electoral path. The People’s Assemblies, which at first glance appeared to be a good space for organizing the base, unfortunately became a space where the principal goal was to discuss who the parliamentary and CORE candidates would be. The List of the People’s leadership lost the potential to organize workers and young people and to strengthen the struggle for real social change that had been created by its enormous electoral victory.

This is the case because within the List of the People there was never clarity about the fact that it wasn’t sufficient to speak out against “political parties” if they themselves did not present a different program and real democratic organizing from below. The People’s List criticized the traditional parties so much that it ended up becoming one of them.

The lack of a truly democratic organization from below caused the constituents elected by the List of the People to distance themselves from it because the List increasingly came to represent the leadership’s opinions and was incapable of building a truly popular organization. This is also a danger for the List of the People constituents themselves since many of them don’t have a real base and aren’t controlled by workers, residents, and young people. This makes them an easy target for traditional political parties and economic power. For this reason many of them are already entering into the parliamentary logic of “making it happen” by prioritizing pacts, negotiations, etc…

Today there has been an internal split in the List of the People. The question that remains is this: What are the political differences that exist? How can workers that do not participate in the political space of the List of the People, but still expect change from it, share their opinion on what is happening? What we see from the outside is a fight around positions and offices, not around different proposals for the country and the people’s struggle.

Is the problem the nomination or the project?

Everything indicates that the differences within the List of the People came to a head around the nomination of a presidential candidate. There were sectors that defended certain mechanisms for the elections of presidential pre-candidates.

In the List of the People’s internal meetings, which had very low popular participation, it was decided that Cristian Cuevas, who had been campaigning for Daniel Jadue of the Communist Party a month prior, should be the presidential candidate. After that, other assemblies reversed that decision and proposed a primary election. We don’t have any other details about the process, since there are different statements with conflicting accusations.

We are not participating in these internal primaries and have our doubts about the extent to which there are real political differences between these different positions. From the start we have said that the program presented by the People’s List doesn’t have any major discrepancies from the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) or the Communist Party. The proof is that the List of the People’s constituents have programs that are very close to those of the Communist Party or Broad Front’s constituents, although at times there are difference with respect to some issues. An example of this “unity” was the statement about political prisoners approved by the Convention that brought together the Broad Front, Socialists, Communist Party and independents. If there is no popular mobilization that pressures the constituents, this mechanism of reaching agreements will become the main activity of the Constitutional Convention.

We regret that those disagreements and the split in the List of the People occurred just 15 days before the deadline to gather signatures for the independent candidates. The democratic process for a citizen’s primary should have been organized long before, with political debates between the different pre-candidates. It should not have occurred now when there is only one week left to gather 30,000 signatures. The rupture in the List of the People comes at a terrible time and shows that this group is failing to establish itself as a real alternative for workers and young people.

MIT and our comrade and constituent María Rivera have already distanced ourselves from those internal spaces within the List of the People because of the problems described earlier. We believe that the program for the List of the People and their practices don’t correspond to the organizational needs of working people and young people. Unfortunately because of bureaucratic infighting, we have lost the possibility of presenting a united candidate that could mark a different path than those represented by Gabriel Boric, Yasna Provoste and Sebastián Sichel. However, we will leave prejudice aside and keep fighting together–for the people–with those who want to do the same: in the streets, at workplaces, in the territories, and at the Constitutional Convention. We want to publicly reaffirm our independence with respect to the List of the People and to formally make known our exit from that organizational space. Although we are no longer a part of the List of the Peole, we invite everyone to support the candidacies of those fighters in the social struggle who remain on the People’s List including Rafael Montecinos (District 12), Carlos Astudillo (District 8), Gloria Pinto (District 9) y Fabiola Campillai (Senatorial District 7) with the objective of having the minimum democratic right to present themselves as candidates.

We continue to maintain that to achieve the dignity that we most desire we have to end the domination of Chile by the country’s ten richest families and transnational companies, and we need to recuperate all of the wealth that belongs to working people. To do this we need to build a revolutionary political organization that can be a tool to guide working people and youth in the struggle towards taking economic and political power. We want to invite all activists who had or still have hope in the List of the People to discuss with us a revolutionary and social project for Chile and the world, a project that can go beyond disputes about offices or candidacies. We invite you to get to know us and join the International Workers’ Movement.

The original Spanish version of this article can be found here.