In the previous edition of Avanzada Socialista [Argentina’s PSTU’s newspaper] we published a note on who is María Rivera and why she is being persecuted by the government and police forces in Chile. In this edition, we had the chance to interview her and dig deeper into the Chilean revolution.
By: PSTU-Argentina 03/12/2020
AS: Four months into the revolutionary process, what is the current situation in the workers’ class and the women’s movement?
María: The process continues fully open and the mobilizations, that haven’t been halted even with the strong repression there has been, continue; we’ve surpassed 2500 apprehended.
Beginning January, the second multinational women’s meeting took place. It had high attendance, there were over five thousand women inscribed. It doubled the number of the first encounter. There was a very good discussion and concluded with important resolutions like the call to strike on March 9th and mobilizations on the 8th.
We hope the strike is strong, profound and prolonged. To this moment, the worker class has not participated with their organisms. They participate individually though, with their families. Many of the political prisoners are workers, even the ones on the front line.
Women’s participation has been imperative. We already know of the intervention by Las Tesis, the performance of “El violador eres tú” [or “A rapist in your path” as is commonly known] and implemented in several countries across the world. The women are very present, including in the front lines. They participate next to male peers in every line because there is a division of labor in the movements that is very important. Men and women who prepare meals, who work in the alternative health organisms that have been created in this revolution, bringing water, collecting clothing, etc.
AS: How is the strike for March 9th being prepared? Which associations are participating?
María: To this moment, there is the National Association of Fiscal Employees or ANEF (Asociación Nacional de Empleados Fiscales) that is preparing to strike. The private sector is very divided. The Labor Code in Chile allows as many unions as an industry can fit because you can form a union with just 8 workers. The bureaucracy is very strong and the workers have not yet broken that barrier. An important sector of the port workers and the private mining sector in the north of Chile participated in the November 12 strike. Hopefully they’ll join this strike as well as more workers.
AS: Earlier you mentioned there are more than 2500 political prisoners. What is the status on the persecution of these activists?
María: Indeed the government has taken two paths, two politics. One which is repression. Strengthening the criminal laws and another by reaching a “peace agreement”, that was signed in November to start a constituent process. The repression rises in all mobilizations, every week there are new political prisoners. We’ve confirmed that many kids have been detained because there are infiltrators in the mobilizations. There are young kids, as young as 14 and 15 years of age that are living extremely tough prison situations.
In one of my interventions in Dignidad Plaza, I called for the Carabineros (Chilean police) troupe to stop shooting and hitting the people, to turn their rifles in and move to the side of the struggle instead. Because their families, girlfriends, brothers and children are in this fight as well. That caused the Carabineros to file the “Improper Sedition” complaint against me.
There is a complaint presented by the Popular Defense due to the threats I’ve been receiving. If I am subpoenaed to declare due to the complaint, I will have no problem, as I am defending my freedom of expression and I will keep on defending it. I insist, the Carabineros troupe are the sons of the workers of this country and the only thing I ask of them is to stop attacking their people, and that to me is no crime.
AS: The process that is happening in Chile, had its repercussions in Argentina. Workers and students have shown their solidarity. What message do you have for them, how can we show our support from here to the Chilean revolution? Also, if you’d like to tell us what you’ve been doing in Buenos Aires these days.
María: First off, convene the students, workers, popular organizations and activists to take in their hands, the defense of almost 3 thousand young Chileans who are in preventive prison. To take into their hands the complaint against Piñera and take it to every media outlet you can because in Chile, human rights are being violated.
In the last couple of weeks I was in Brazil and Argentina making this complaint, asking for solidarity for the freedom of these prisoners. It went very well, I received a lot of support for this struggle. The Brazilian people, in the places I went to, were very open and receptive to knowing about what is happening in Chile and very supportive. Here in Argentina as well. I visited the PSTU, affiliated party with the MIT in Chile and welcomed me with a wonderful reception. Yesterday I was in the plenary meeting of Memoria, Verdad y Justicia (Memory, Truth and Justice), I also had a significant reception from the fellow partners that were there and I was able to show what is happening, and we took pictures expressing solidarity with the prisoners and with me. Today I had the honor of going to the round of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of Plaza de Mayo) who are a milestone in the struggle for human rights. I was with Norita Cortiña and they yelled “¡Fuera Piñera!” (“Piñera out!”) and “Those who don’t jump are pigs (cops)!” it was wonderful. On another note, I was in the Congress annex next to a series of personalities exposing the situation and I also received a lot of support there. So I leave full of new energies to take to the kids in jail. To tell them they are not anonymous, that everyone knows what is going on and that all of us together will be able to get Piñera out of office and build a future full of justice in Chile.
Translation by: Anastasia Ransewak