More than a month! This is how long the splendid rebellion of the Chilean youth has lasted. They are the workers and poor peasants’ children who are standing up struggling for the right to study, to recover the free, public education that was destroyed and privatized by Pinochet’s dictatorship which has been extended and deepened by successive “concertacionista” governments.
On Tuesday, May 30, during the first national student strike, more than 800,000 youth went onto the streets of the cities and towns all over Chile, confronting the ferocious repression ordered by Bachelet, and the “pacos” (1) arrested more than 1,200 protesters nationwide. On June 5, hundreds of thousands of students again shook Chile from the North to the South and from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean with their second national strike.
But the policy of the pro-bourgeois and reformist student movement leadership – who decided not to mobilize the students, but told them to remain calm “reflecting on current events” inside the occupied schools – prevented the rebellious youth from taking to the streets again. The leaders were worried that the students would go on masse to the factories and the rest of the workplaces, to the hospitals, etc., to call on the workers – their parents – to join the struggle.
These treacherous leaders knew that hundreds of fighting students were willing to do that, to get all the working class to join them, because they knew how to interpret the youth’s chants:
“Copper flying in the sky, education laying on the soil!”; “Education, first to the workers’ children; only then, to the bourgeois’ ones”.
[The price of copper is sky high, education stays on the ground; fund workers’ education first, bosses’ profits from what is left]
- No negotiation or conciliation with the government of Bachelet!
- No to a cave in of the struggle for the free, public education!
The youth and students in their hundreds of thousands stood up in struggle, they suffered a ferocious repression and hundreds of arrests and imprisonment, they fought in La Alameda (2) and in the streets all over Chile, not to get scraps.
Millions of workers and peasants are encouraging and supporting the struggle of their children. The national general strike is the only way that the gigantic political mass struggle of the youth that is stirring the whole of Chile can break through to the rest of the working class. But the pro-bourgeois and reformist student movement’s leaderships, colluding with the union bureaucracy of the CUT, made every effort to frustrate such a workers-students alliance. Such an alliance won in the streets would have been a sure step towards the national general strike. These leaders, lackeys of the civil-military regime and of Bachelet are scared that the spark of the student movement will “set fire to the prairie”, opening a “French May” (3) that could shatter Chile to its foundation.
After the May 30 strike, Bachelet tried to curb the struggle of the youth by offering a few small concessions. But the student movement rejected those crumbs because it’s minimum demand is for a free, public education at all levels.
The splendid student strikes on May 30 and June 5 showed that it is necessary to fight for everything; that to achieve a victory in this struggle means winning free, public, education for everybody. It is clear that to meet the needs of the working class and all exploited people, it is necessary to make a national general strike of workers, students and poor peasants that continues until the downfall of the civil-military regime and its Pinochetista Constitution of the ‘80s.
The eyes of the class-conscious workers and of the revolutionary youth in Latin America and the world are watching very closely the great struggle of the Chilean students, a twin struggle to the recent heroic rebellion of the young workers of France confronting the imperialist regime of the 5th Republic.
The Chilean youth are today the vanguard of the struggle against the regimes and governments in Latin America which try to hide behind a “socialist” or “nationalist” disguise – as Bachelet does – that they are really the servants and partners of imperialism. That is why the struggle of the Chilean youth belongs to the working class in Latin America as well as the worldwide working class.
No private charity will replace the education we demand!
The Pinochetista dictatorship destroyed free, public education in Chile by means of the repressive 1980 Constitution (sanctioned by the military dictatorship but agreed to by all the concertacionista politicians). By means of the LOCE (see footnotes 4 and 5) that the infamous Constitution of the ‘80s consecrates, education ceases to be a responsibility of the state. Education was put in the hands of the municipalities and then privatized and transformed into a “service” to be bought and sold. (6)
Any one that wants to, if they have enough money, can open a school or a college, collect fees, and also ask the state for a helping hand in the form of a subsidy which is added to the money from the fees to constitute a profitable business. If you can pay, you study. If you cannot, you don’t study.
Privatization is prevalent, from the kindergarten to the university. Besides, the selective entrance to the university (7) has been ratified by the PSU (Prueba de Selección Universitaria, or Exam for the Selective entrance to the University), which is also a paid service. Other means of “selection” are the fixed number of places in the different colleges, fees, etc. This has been retained and implemented more widely by the successive governments of the “Concertacion” from 1990 on. A worker has to pay no less than a 15% of his/her miserable salary to ensure even the most elementary education for his/her children!
The ‘80s Constitution and the civil-military regime that supports it have already made working families suffer the worst deprivations. Public, free education has been destroyed; the working class has been transformed into miserable wage-slaves; the small peasants have been robbed of his/her land; and Chile has been chained to imperialism by two rounds of FTA ‘agreements’. The hundreds of thousands of students whose struggle is being supported by millions of exploited in Chile, have understood the character of their struggle and what is actually at stake in it.
The concertacionista “Bushelet” (8) government has also understood. It is ready to concede on some partial, secondary demands, handing out some crumbs, and putting in place a commission that could conciliate with the reformist and pro-bourgeois currents active within the student movement. The government speaks about reforming the LOCE to deceive the hundreds of thousands that are protesting, in the same way that they tried to deceive the striking contract workers that were struggling against the Subcontracting Law.
The government of Bushelet and its agents within the student movement are trying to disarm and break up the great political mass protest of the Chilean youth. With a fraudulent and devious plan they want to prevent the spark of the insurgent youth from setting fire to the prairie of the exploited masses in Chile, that could jump the fence of the notorious civil military concertacionista regime and turn it to ashes.
The magnificent rebellion of the youth, in their struggle for education has shown clearly that on one side of the barricade there are the militant students together with the workers and the poor peasants, and on the other side, the Pinochetista-concertacionista regime, its government, its parties, and their agents, the union bureaucracy and the pro-bourgeois and reformist leaderships of the student movement. The heroic and massive struggle of the Chilean youth must not be sacrificed to the class interests of this infamous regime.
- A free, public education at all levels: that is not negotiable! Down with the LOCE (4) !
- Down with the Constitution of the ‘80s (5) that consecrates the LOCE!
Down with the class collaborationist leadership of the student movement!
Our enemies have stolen our education, our jobs, our wages and our land: Let them not steal our struggle! The gigantic political protest of the rebellious youth must not be surrendered to Bachelet through negotiation in her “Consultant Council for Education”. There they will only discuss the handing out of miserable crumbs and cosmetic reforms for keeping in place the substance of the private and elitist education that the bosses and the imperialist monopolies demand for Chile.
After the second great student walkout, “Bushelet” set a devious trap for expropriating the heroic struggle that is being fought for free, secular, public education. She has rallied support of the pro-bourgeois and reformist leadership of the student movement for the “Presidential Consultant Council for Education” by announcing that she will appoint to it 6 high school student leaders and 6 university student leaders. There in the headquarters of power of the murderous civil-military regime, she will try to sacrifice the heroic struggle of the Chilean youth.
We are then before a new trap designed to finish the privatization of education as a lucrative business for the imperialist monopolies and the Chilean bosses. It is a trap to get the students out of the streets and prevent them from joining with the workers movement for a great national general political strike which could defeat the ‘80s Constitution, the regime and the government, and win free, public education and all the demands of the exploited. Therefore anybody that defends this devious negotiation – like the leaderships of the CUT, the CP, the pro-bourgeois and reformist leadership of the student movement – proves they are the agents of this repressive ‘Bushelet’ regime.
- Down with the “Consultant Council for Education”!
- For a national student congress, with mandated, recallable rank and file delegates, elected by the assemblies of militant high school, university and technical college students!
Down with the trap of the negotiations and the “Consultant Council”
No to any meeting, negotiation or conciliation with the government, which goes to Washington to lick Bush’s boots while receiving in its backrooms the leaders of the “Concertacionista” parties’ youth, including those of the CP’s, and violently represses youth in the streets with the murderous “pacos”, jailing the students, and at the same time keeps locked up the Mapuche comuneros (9) and the rest of the political prisoners!
On Friday, June 9, the pro-bourgeois and reformist leadership of the student movement that dominates the ACES (Asamblea Coordinadora de Estudiantes Secundarios, or Coordinating Assembly for High School Students) (10) announced that they were calling off the walkouts and the sit-ins, and that the struggle had ended because they were going to meet Bachelet and the regime’s parties within that “Council”. But to be able to call off the struggle, they had first to destroy every direct democracy organism born in the heat of the struggle of the rebellious youth.
These class collaborationist leaderships are nothing less than the agents of the Pinochetista-concertacionista regime’s parties – the Christian Democrats, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and also the Pinochetista parties as the UDI (11) or RN (12) – within the student movement. The ACES, a completely bureaucratic and unrepresentative organization that they have put in place, is a miscarriage produced by the defeat of the great student struggles of 2004 and 2005, which were also unashamedly betrayed by these leaderships.
These agents of the regime within the student movement and their ACES are supported and backed by all the reformists: the CP, the Castroite and Anarchist organizations, the MPMR (13) and also by the ex-Trotskyists, as Clase contra Clase (14) that praises this student leadership that has just openly betrayed the greatest struggle of the Chilean youth in the last few decades.
- Get the unrepresentative student delegation out of the negotiation board with the repressive government that is starving the Chilean people!
To continue struggling, to win, the militant students need the widest direct democracy in order to create their own organizations to coordinate and centralize the struggle.
- For a national student congress, with delegates mandated and elected by the rank and file who create a truly representative CES (Coordinadora de Estudiantes Secundarios, or High School Students’ Coordinating body) in each town and city, coordinated and centralized regionally and nationally!
- For General assemblies at each College, Department and University to achieve truly representative bodies of delegates in every Chilean university, coordinated nationally by a great national student congress of rank and file delegates who should have a mandate and be recallable!
- Only representatives that are mandated by a broad, direct democracy among those that are struggling can truly represent the rebellious and heroic Chilean youth.
- To win and achieve all the demands of the exploited, the only way is to organize and deepen the struggle for a national general strike.
- For a national congress of delegates of the rank and file of the workers, the students and the poor peasants to obtain it!
We have to fight for the heroic student movement to attain a higher level of organization through direct democracy.
They didn’t take to the streets for more than a month, nor struggle in La Alameda, Valparaiso (15), Arica, Temuco (16), etc., to end in this treacherous negotiation, this sell-out “Council”!
If the student movement breaks this trap, it could converge again with the workers movement, the Mapuche people and the poor peasants, and prepare a decisive struggle that could end in victory. But the union bureaucracies, as well as the class collaborationist leadership of the student movement, want the Chilean masses to believe that the demands of the different sectors are different and so the struggle and the negotiations must be done separately.
That’s a lie! Stop deceiving and isolating those who are struggling! Stop negotiating separately, stop weakening and strangling the struggles! For one demand, by one, united movement of students, workers and poor peasants!
- Down with the Organic constitutional Law on Education created by the ‘80s Constitution! For a public (state), free and secular education at all levels!
- Down with private education: immediate statization (17) without pay of all the private schools, colleges and universities, under control by the students, the teachers and the worker organizations!
- Down with the PSU! Free (unrestricted) entrance to university!
- Public, free education must be financed through the rejecting of the external debt, heavy taxes on the big bourgeoisie and the banks and the reduction of 80% in the military budget (this budget today finances the mercenary Chilean Armed Forces that work in the service of Her Majesty the Queen of England and the mass murderer Bush)!
- Stop robbing the workers’ miserable wages and the poor peasants’ empty pockets by making them finance the education of their children!
- The huge copper profits must be used for the workers and their children’s health, education, decent jobs and living wages!
- For the complete renationalization (18) of copper, without compensation and under worker control, breaking with all the FTAs that help the imperialist monopolies to plunder our nation.
- Down with the barbaric law on subcontracting devised by the slave bosses and “Bushelet’s” government! Equal pay and labor conditions for equal work. Everybody on the normal payroll, and working under collective bargaining agreements!
- The Mapuche nation-people must be have their land returned; land for the poor peasants, through the expropriation of the big landowners and the imperialist monopolies!
- Immediate freedom for the student and Mapuche movement fighters imprisoned, and for the rest of the political prisoners! For the dissolution of the murderous police of Pinochet-Bachelet!
- For worker-student self-defense committees to defend ourselves from repression by the “pacos” and from the fascist gangs of neo-nazi thugs harboured in the municipalities, the police stations, the military headquarters and the ANI (Agencia Nacional de Inteligencia, or National intelligence Agency)!
Any struggle for the most elemental demands of the Chilean students, workers and exploited – for education, for land, for decent jobs and wages, against the imperialist rule – will inevitably confront the civil-military regime, and these demands would only be achieved by defeating this regime, that is, demolishing every part of the government and its Constitution.
By fighting in the streets, the student movement has won the right and has the authority to call the Chilean working class and exploited people to work together to prepare and make a national general strike.
The general strike must be voted in assemblies in all the factories, the ports, the schools, colleges and universities, in all the fighting organizations of the Mapuche and the poor peasants!
The spark of the struggle was begun in San Antonio, where the students, health workers, teachers and lecturers, unemployed, etc., created a united organization of struggle, the MASA (Movimiento de Acción Social por San Antonio, or Social Action Movement for San Antonio) which coordinated the demands, and united the marches where everybody marched hand in hand in the streets to the port in that city.
In Concepcion (19) , the massive mobilizations in the streets, the demands of the workers, the high school and university students, converged. This is the method that has to be generalized and deepened: from the student assemblies and the sit-ins of the schools and colleges, it is necessary to march on the factories, the workplaces, to go to the workers, and to vote together for the national general strike and for a national congress of workers, students and poor peasants!
The union bureaucracy of the CUT has betrayed the students’ struggle, by refusing to call for a general strike that remains until it is victorious. The pro-bourgeois and reformist leadership of the student movement also betrayed it handing it over to “Bushelet” and Co., through the deceitful negoatiations and “Council”. All of them have proved once more to be faithful servants to the civil-military regime and its government.
- Enough of union bureaucrats that surrender all the struggles of the workers, supporting the Pinochetista regime and its government, and preventing the students and workers from uniting to win!
- Enough of class collaborationist student leaderships, that give in the heroic youth rebellion!
- We have to impose a national congress of the Chilean workers, students and peasants of rank and file delegates, to attain the national general strike, in order to triumph!
The only true solidarity and support is that the working class take in their own hands their children’s struggle! Because to win it is necessary to attack the interests and the property of the exploiters who support and benefit from this iniquitous regime against the Chilean youth! And this can only be done by the working class with their class methods, as the leader of all the exploited, by means of the national general strike against the regime and the government of the FTA, that starves the workers and the common people and plunders the Chilean nation.
- Let the spark of the student rebellion set on fire the prairie of the class struggle together with the workers and all the exploited! Let’s go on an indefinite general strike!
- National Congress of workers, students and peasants, to put again in place the glorious “Cordones Industriales” (workers’ revolutionary councils) of 1973!
- Long live worker and peasant Chile, with its upsurging students and youth!
- In the heat of the Chilean youth’s rebellion and of the militant struggles the Chilean working class is fighting, let’s set up a new, internationalist, revolutionary workers party in Chile!
The heroic rebellion by the Chilean youth is another episode, a link in the chain of revolutionary struggles by the workers and exploited in Latin America, which has had its sharpest episodes in the last few years in Ecuador, Argentina and in the great Bolivian revolution. All the reformist leaderships of the CUT and the student movement have shown once more that they are servants to this infamous civil-military regime, which is as bad at exploiting and repressing workers to allow the plunder of the nation’s resources as the mineowner regime and Goni’s lackey government in Bolivia – the government that was defeated by an mass insurrection in 2003.
With their conciliations and negotiations, the servants of the civil-military regime aim to stop Chile from becoming a new revolutionary Bolivia with the workers and exploited getting rid of the pro-imperialist and repressive governments.
The coordinated action of the treacherous leaderships in the continent, united in the World Social Forum, has so far succeeded in strangling the Revolution in Argentina, and in containing it in Ecuador and Bolivia.
Today these leaderships are determined to prevent the Chilean workers from entering the same road opened by our worker and peasant sisters and brothers in 2003 in Bolivia. But despite their actions, the Latin American revolution has revived, each time more vigorously, in the splendid struggle of the Chilean youth, in the opening of the Mexican mine, steel and educational workers, and above all, in the struggle of the Latino immigrant workers in their millions that in US –the heart of the imperialist beast!
These WSF leaderships are guarding the pockets of the bankers and the corporations that reap millions thanks to the privatized education in Chile and steal this country’s copper, natural resources and produce. None of these concertacionista leaderships, nor any of the union bureaucracies that lead one of the most exploited worker movements in the world, could lead or even support the heroic revolutionary struggle of the rebellious Chilean youth. Nor could they lead or support the heroic struggle of the thousands of the miners in the subcontracting copper companies, or that of the poor peasants and the Mapuche people for their land.
Against those that divide the fighting masses, against those that sell-out all the efforts and energies of the militant workers to kneel at the feet of the Pinochetista Constitution and the “sacred” FTA of Bush and Bachelet’s, we should set up – from the barricades of El Teniente in Rancagua and La Andina in Los Andes mines (20); from the struggle of the thousands of dockworkers and sailors in the Chilean ports, from the revolts in the factories against slavery; from the barricades of the students’ struggle today – a new revolutionary leadership of the Chilean exploited masses capable of victory.
The working class and the rebellious youth need a new, revolutionary workers party.
The forces achieve that are already there. The Partido Obrero Internacionalista (CI) (Internationalist Worker Party (FI) of Chile, a member of the Fraccion Leninista Trotskista (Leninist Trotskyist Fraction) looks forward to converging with those forces, because the only thing that prevents the struggle the Chilean exploited from winning are the treacherous leaderships. They divide our struggles and betray our demands.
Therefore we call the student youth from the high schools, the universities, the technical institutes that are struggling, we call the old and young workers that do not negotiate crumbs, we call every one of them that truly want to enter the fight to win, to build together a winning strategy. We call them to organize together, hand in hand in the same struggle, to set up that new, revolutionary party that the Chilean working class and its vanguard – the youth – need and deserve today in order to win. A party that from now on, in the current struggles, tells the truth to the rebellious students, to the workers and the poor peasants: if the workers and the poor people are to live, the civic-military regime, its ‘80s’ Constitution and all its lackeys must be defeated.
Only our own government, a revolutionary worker and peasant government based on the mass organizations built through direct democracy and armed militias, will allow us to achieve our goals. Only a government won and built on the ruins of this infamous regime that make us slaves and surrenders the nation to imperialism will be able to achieve the break with the FTA; guarantee the re-nationalization without compensation and under workers control of copper; give land to the poor peasants, decent jobs and living wages to the workers; free and quality education and health for all the exploited.
- Public, free education must not be negotiated!
- The wages and the jobs of millions of workers and exploited must not be negotiated!
- The blood that has drenched our country must not be negotiated!
This is the exact moment to conquer a new revolutionary regroupment of the combative worker and student vanguard. Hundreds of thousands of workers and youth are ready and eager to enter the combat and to deepen the struggle.
The POI (CI) of Chile, a member of the LTF, puts itself in the frontline alongside the other revolutionary fighters to prevent our misleaders from selling out our demands to this repressive regime.
Against the treacherous negotiation, let’s set up a great National Student Congress to prepare a great struggle. Against the divisions imposed by the lackey union bureaucracies, let’s set up a great national congress of workers, students and peasants. It is necessary to prepare a new and powerful assault by the masses, only thus we could see the beginning of the fall for this murderous civic-military Pinochetista regime.
- Down with the negotiations!
- The only solution for winning the struggle is to prepare and organize the indefinite general strike.
LENINIST TROTSKIYST FRACTION
Partido Obrero Internacionalista (CI) of Chile
Liga Obrera Internacionalista (CI)-Democracia Obrera of Argentina
Liga Trotskista Internacionalista (LTI) of Peru
Octubre Rojo Internacionalista (ORI) of Bolivia
Fraçao Trotskista (FT) of Brazil
Communist Worker Group (CWG) of New Zealand
(1) Popular and derogatory name given to the police in Chile.
(2) Santiago de Chile’s main avenue. It is lined with poplars (“Alamos” in Spanish).
(3) Remember Paris, 1968!
(4) The Constitutional Organic Law of Education set in the Constitution of the ‘80s.
(5) The privatization of education was established by the dictatorship and consecrated in the constitution approved through a consensus (“concertación”) between the pinochetista parties and the so called “democratic” (indeed “concertacionista”) ones, the Christian-Democratic Party and the Socialist Party, with the acquiescence of the powerful Communist Party (which dominates the unions and all the popular organizations). This constitution has set the shape of the Concertacionista regime, granting a soft transition between the dictatorship and the “democratic” (actually, thoroughly Bonapartist) governments, and the perpetuation of the anti popular and anti working class changes introduced by the dictatorship to comply with the orders of imperialism.
(6) Latin American countries, and especially some of them, like Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, etc., have a long and strong tradition of excellent public education at all levels, completely free, funded by the state at national and provincial level with a large part of their budgets. This funding was reduced during the second half of the Twentieth Century, particularly where dictatorships were established. Privatization, however, was insignificant, but began in earnest when the state began to increasingly fund the military and cut the education budget. Following the historic defeats of the masses in the ‘70s, public education collapsed and its privatization, with some differences country by country, became the norm. The first step was generally to ‘devolve’ schools and/or universities from the national or provincial budget to the municipal budget. When the cities and towns could not afford to fund education at all levels, resulting in a declining standard of education, or the closure of schools, this opened the opportunity for the private sector. In some countries education is still partially in the hands of the state (for example, in Argentina) but the governments do all they can to make the students pay for their public education, or to transfer public education into the hands of the corporations which “generously” fund some schools (especially technical schools) or universities so that public education comes tio openly serve private profits. In Chile all the kindergartens, elementary and high schools, and most of the universities, are in private hands, and the few public schools and universities are not free. The loans the poor students must pay back if they want to study – funded by the big, imperialist Banks – transforms youth into life-long slaves of the corporations.
(7) The free (gratuitous), public education was complemented with a free (without a selective exam) entrance into the university, as it was supposed that those who had approved their high-school studies had the ability to do tertiary study.
(8) Bachelet’s family name has been distorted to link it to Bush’s by the students’ creative genius, making it “Bushelet” in chants and placards.
(9) “comuneros”, people that live in a community, being an ethnic community or that of poor peasants or rural workers.
(10) A bureaucratic organization where only 4 high school delegates for each Region (province) and 4 for Santiago are allowed… while there have been hundreds of thousand fighting students, who have elected thousands of delegates in the assemblies and the sit-ins of the schools, in the universities, etc.!
(11) Union Democrática Independiente, Union of Democratic Independents.
(12) Renovacion Nacional (National Renewal).
(13) Movimiento Popular Manuel Rodriguez, a loud speaking, theatrically leftist-populist organization, heir to a guerrilla movement of the ‘80s that helped to abort the workers uprising of those years by forming the vanguard that isolated and contained the strikes and all kinds of working class actions from the masses, neutralising the struggles. It had its origins in the CP.
(14) Class against Class or CcC; this is the fraternal organization to the Argentinean PTS. It is a member of the leftist coalition headed by the CP, the PODEMOS! (“We can!”).
(15) An important port near Santiago de Chile.
(16) Arica and Temuco, are the main Chilean cities and ports in the north, having important working class concentrations (fishermen, dockworkers, sailors, industrial workers, etc.). They have been epicenters of two of the most combative students rebellions.
(17) In Spanish there us a difference between “statization” where the state takes charge of an enterprise, land, etc., and “nationalization” which could mean a foreign company taken over by a national, yet private company.
(18) Today copper is formally in Chilean hands, through the Coldelco, the state copper company. But really copper concessions go to a few imperialist companies to super-exploitation. These companies pay a relatively small royalty while taking the lions share of the copper profits without regard to the people of Chiles interests.
(19) One of the most important ports in Chile.
(20) The most combative mines in the recent struggle of the subcontract miners. El Teniente in itself has a long tradition of working class combats over the whole 20th century and the start of the 21st century too, having suffered cruel repressions in the past.