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Chile: the future is open

Chile: the future is open

From Santiago

In Chile, with the presidential triumph of Gabriel Boric (Photo), it has been ratified that an intense political process has been going on since October 2019. The social rebellion and its effects are coexisting, the institutional channeling of it in the Constitutional Convention and now the presidency that expresses the orientation of the left out of the crisis of the neoliberal model.

It is important to add that the recent election of the board of directors of the Convention has shown that it will not be at the service of the new government and that, recognizing it as an ally, it will have a debate with autonomy and highly influenced by the independent sectors linked to social movements.

Promising future

In this context it is important to understand that the future is open and promising, but not assured. The electoral victory against the far-right candidate José Antonio Kast shows the people’s capacity for social and political reaction and the weak democratic commitment of important sectors of the right, but it also indicates the capacity on the part of the Wide Front Y I approve of Dignity to interpret the dangers and to lead a broad block of forces, with a project that breathes with the wishes of the majority of society.

On another level, electoral victory occurs in a larger context, such as the constituent process, the center of the strategic conflict over how the country’s institutions will be organized. Will the new Constitution be able to assume and outline the profound changes that have occurred in the world and in Chile? The Convention was achieved by the sustained mobilization of the people and by the ability to achieve that in a victory.

Democratic commitment

This model has two aspects that are worth highlighting. On the one hand, it shows a commitment to democratic institutions, however imperfect, since it is understood that democracy is constitutive of any project of the left and, on the other hand, that the new government will have, among its fundamental objectives, to serve the success of the Convention and manage the first steps in the installation of a truly democratic Constitution.

Boric, with the decision to sign the agreement for a new constitution, expressed a type of political thought that links the transformative project with reality and the will for change and with respect for the democratic institutional order, however limited it may be. The recriminations of the field itself about the signing of the agreement that opened the way to the Constitutional Convention, show the diversity of the left in conceptions and strategies regarding how to achieve structural transformations that overcome neoliberalism, consolidated field not only in the economic structure but also in the subjectivities of the Chileans. In this sense, the success was marked by the conviction to promote a way out of the October crisis in the institutional framework, precisely to end it.


A third factor in the situation, and perhaps the most determining one for the future of current and future generations, is that of long-term lessons. In this Chilean process will be at stake the idea of ​​overcoming the causes of the defeats and frustrations of a Latin American left that requires transformation to be able to transform reality.

The Chilean left, or the left, had, in the last 30 years, three basic references: European liberal socialism, which resisted and later led the moderate neoliberal transformation in that continent, reflecting in Chile in a policy of collusion and acceptance of neoliberal hegemony in the long transition, applying public policies that cushion inequalities. On the other hand, the Communist PartyBy rejecting the transitional agreements, it was articulated in an extra-parliamentary policy, which reiterated the line of mass rebellion, to fight against neoliberalism. Another left, more diffuse and diverse, was established in universities, as well as in territories and anti-discrimination causes, generating social dynamics, mobilizations and new ideas, in a country undergoing cultural and economic transformation, but with an evident institutional and political backwardness.

During the ’90s and until the end of the first decade of the 2000s, Latin American experiences such as “The socialism of the XXI century”, of Chavez-Maduro or the “Sandinismo of Ortega-Murillo”, hit the common sense of the people and contemporary subjectivity by showing devalued left, authoritarian style with a single party, which, controlling the powers of the State, they culminated in corrupt regimes, human rights violators, and economic disasters, beyond the well-known interventionist game of the United States. At the same time, the old generation of revolutionary projects of the ’60s, such as the Uruguayan Tupamaros, sealed a commitment to democracy early in the 1980s and so did the guerrilla movements of El Salvador and Guatemala, through peace processes, mediated by the UN.

Plural left

The plural left on the continent, had its moment to the beginning of the 21st century in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia, grouped in what were called the “progressive governments”. These reached power through electoral channels and governed with redistributive public policies, dignifying millions of families in their countries. But nevertheless, its cycle was closed together with the fall in the prices of raw materials, by not having promoted structural transformations in development strategies (Bolivia is the exception, precisely for this reason).

The nascent left of the Boric government has a unique opportunity in this field as well. Being able to solve concrete problems with a strategy to overcome neoliberalism and deepen the link of the left with social justice, freedoms and fraternity. This left, now government alliance, is born committed to human rights as the foundation of its identity and it promotes it as the engine of changes because it understands that these are not only a legal framework but also the legal expression of the demands, mobilizations and triumphs of populations overwhelmed by various forms of oppression.

*Executive Director of La Casa Común Foundation


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