This month, rural women, indigenous communities, and farmers in Chile found themselves on the winning end of a long-fought battle against a bill that had come to be known by many in this country as simply, the “Monsanto Law.” The bill, which would have given multinational agribusiness corporations the right to patent seeds they discover, develop or modify, was withdrawn by the Chilean government now controlled by newly elected members of the center-left coalition known as the New Majority, amid concerns that the law would bring harm to the country’s small and mid-sized farmers. In making the announcement on March 17, new Secretary General Ximena Rincón pledged that the Chilean government will “analyze all that is known in our country and internationally about this issue in order to protect the rights of agricultural communities, small and medium-sized farmers, and the heritage of seeds in our country.”
There seems to be some confusion among Americans including some of those involved in people-powered movements in the United States. Some differentiate among street protests that challenge government and recognize some are consistent with our ideals of people-powered governments and see that other protests actually undermine democracy and are not social movements for economic, environmental and social justice. In the case of Ukraine, discussed in the article below, the situation is particularly complicated because the government of President Viktor Yanukovych was distasteful. Despite our dislike for Yanukovych and our admiration for the Ukrainian people we do not applaud this coup of a democratic government. Frankly, we did not find either side advocating for the economic, environmental and social justice that is needed. Even though these can be complicated situations we urge people to be cautious and not assume that just because there are people in the street that the US social movement should support those efforts.
Chilean Socialist senator, Isabel Allende, the daughter of toppled former president Salvador Allende, was appointed head of the Chilean senate on Thursday, making her the first woman to occupy the post. Almost half a century after her father was killed in a violent 1973 coup d’état, the daughter of Salvador Allende is set to become the leader of the Chilean senate following a decision on Thursday by the country’s new centre-left coalition government, which won power in November last year. “My father, as we know, served as senate leader for three years, and for me, it comes as an immense honour and with great pride to be the first woman [leader] in the history of the senate,” Allende told major Chilean radio station, Radio Cooperativa.
Michelle Bachelet has promised major tax and education reforms to help ease Chile’s social divisions after sweeping back to power with a huge majority in presidential elections on Sunday. The centre-left candidate won with about 62% support, the highest share of votes for any presidential candidate since the country returned to holding democratic elections in 1989. The landslide victory against Evelyn Matthei, the conservative candidate of the Alianza coalition, puts Bachelet back in the Moneda presidential palace after a four-year gap and gives her a mandate to push for an education overhaul and the fiscal reforms to help pay for it. “Chile has looked at itself, has looked at its path, its recent history, its wounds, its feats, its unfinished business and this Chile has decided it is the time to start deep transformations,” Bachelet told a jubilant crowd of supporters on Sunday night as confetti rained down. “There is no question about it: profits can’t be the motor behind education because education isn’t merchandise and because dreams aren’t a consumer good.”
Evelyn Matthei, the presidential candidate of Chile’s ruling conservative coalition, has conceded defeat to former president and socialist leader Michelle Bachelet, according to Chilean TV. Matthei, an economist and former labour minister, is expected to make a formal concession announcement in the next few minutes, at 2230GMT. “It was expected that Bachelet would win, but what was not expected was such a low turnout,” reported Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman from Santiago de Chile, the country’s capital. “Michele Bachelet now has her work cut out for her.”
Camila Vallejo, who helped spearhead Chile’s student uprising in 2011, leapt from the street protest to the ranks of Congress alongside three other former university leaders on Sunday, underscoring a generational shift in local politics. The 25-year-old communist shot to international fame as one of the most recognizable faces of a student movement seeking free and improved education in a nation fettered by the worst income distribution among the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 34 member states. The massive student protests of 2011 rocked incumbent President Sebastian Pinera’s government and helped shape the 2013 electoral campaign, with Bachelet running on a platform to implement a tax reform to finance an education overhaul. Independent candidates Giorgio Jackson and Gabriel Boric and fellow communist Karol Cariola, former comrade-in-arms in the student movement, also gained seats in Chile’s lower house on Sunday.
Michelle Bachelet will approach a second term with an agenda which is more radical and progressive than that of her first There is no contest between the two leading candidates, Michelle Bachelet and Evelyn Matthei, in Chile’s presidential election on Sunday. Ms Bachelet will be re-elected president – the only question being whether she achieves victory in one round or two. The two women do have, however, a shared history . As little girls they were neighbours in the same barracks, when their fathers, both generals in the air force, were friends. But there was always a political divide between the two families, and what bonds there were, were ripped apart by Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup. Mr Matthei was promoted to run the air force, and remains to this day an unrepentant former member of the military junta. And Ms Bachelet’s father was tortured, and died in detention of a stroke. Ms Bachelet will approach a second term with an agenda which if anything is more radical and progressive than that of her first term. Wealth is still concentrated in the hands of a few affluent families, and inequality, particularly in higher education, is a major issue. Pushed by students who have turned out weekly in their thousands in demonstrations which have captured public sympathy, Ms Bachelet is offering free higher education over the next six years.
The catastrophic management of catastrophe. If there is one line that describes the nature of neoliberal crisis management, that must be it. From Mexico and Latin America in 1982 to the South-East Asian crisis of 1997-’98, and from Turkey and Argentina in the early 2000s to the European debt crisis from 2010 onward — the most catastrophic thing about neoliberal crisis management is not only that it has a penchant to turn already catastrophic financial crises caused by runaway private speculation into an immense source of private gain for the same very financiers responsible for the catastrophe to begin with; but, even more nefariously, that it makes those catastrophes so much more catastrophic than they really need to be for almost everyone else. Notwithstanding all the propaganda and rhetoric about “free markets” promoting democracy and development, the massive bank bailouts of the neoliberal era have invariably shown that those so-called neoliberals in fact care very little even about free markets — let alone about democracy or development.
“As a symbol of our solidarity with the Chilean people, we call on all activists to support the campaign, “Justice for Victor Jara.” The Chilean folksinger was the voice of his country’s dispossessed, an internationally admired songwriter, and one of the founders of a new genre of Latin American song. He was killed on September 16, 1973, in the Estadio Chile. His body was dumped in the street, and found riddled with 44 bullets and signs of torture. In December 2012, Chilean Judge Miguel Vazquez Plaza charged former military officers Hugo Sanchez and Pedro Barrientos as responsible for the murder of Victor Jara.[...] Pedro Barrientos currently lives in Deltona, Florida.”
Kissinger pressed Nixon to overthrow the democratically elected Allende government because his “‘model’ effect can be insidious,” documents show On 40th anniversary of coup, Archive posts top ten documents on Kissinger’s role in undermining democracy, supporting military dictatorship in Chile Kissinger overruled aides on military regime’s human rights atrocities; told Pinochet in 1976: “We want to help, not undermine you. You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende.”
“Surely this will be the last opportunity for me to address you. The Air Force has bombed the towers of Radio Portales and Radio Corporación. My words do not have bitterness but disappointment. May they be a moral punishment for those who have betrayed their oath[...] in our country fascism has been already present for many hours — in terrorist attacks, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railroad tracks, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to protect them. They were committed. History will judge them.”
On the 40th Anniversary of the U.S.-supported military coup in Chile, SOA Watch is calling for the extradition of Pedro Barrientos, a graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, who currently lives in Florida in the United States. Among the dictatorship’s first victims was Victor Jara. He was killed on September 16, 1973. Victor Jara was an admired Chilean folksinger and one of the founders of a new genre of Latin American song. His body was dumped in the street and found with 44 bullets and signs of torture. SOA Watch supports the extradition of Pedro Barrientos, who currently lives in Deltona, Florida to stand trial for the torture and killing of Jara.
“I REMEMBER those days very vaguely. I recall that suddenly, we couldn’t play outside past three in the afternoon at first, then six, then a bit later–and that it took a while for that curfew to get out of the way of our playtime. After all, the sun was setting later every day, and the days were getting warmer. I was four years old[...]I KNOW now that first time our parents yelled at us–kids playing on the corner–to come inside because there was a “toque de queda” (curfew) was September 11, 1973–the day the Chilean bourgeoisie unleashed the military against the people, the day the constitutionally elected president Salvador Allende was ousted, the day the “Chilean Road to Socialism” came abruptly to an end.”
“Wednesday 11th September 2013 marks the fortieth anniversary of what in Latin America is referred to as ‘El primer 11 de septiembre’(the first 11th September). It is the fortieth anniversary of the bloody coup which paved the way, and is said to have been deliberately staged to pave the way, for the introduction of the very same neoliberal reforms that, later at a global level, are shown to have benefited from the measures adopted post 9/11/2001. 9/11/2001 marks the third 11th September following the one in Chile and later the coup in Turkey, for similar reasons (paving the way for a neoliberal market economy), which was staged a day later, that is on the 12th September, this time in 1980.”
Among thousands of Chileans caught in a brutal roundup following the military coup that unseated President Salvador Allende was Charles Horman, a young American journalist who had settled in Santiago with his wife Joyce. For days, Joyce Horman had no idea what had happened to her husband. He had realised they were in trouble and had been out trying to buy plane tickets. Joyce was caught in the curfew, but when she got home the next morning Charles was gone. Their home had been ransacked; neighbours warned her to flee, as the soldiers would return. Santiago was under curfew, its streets running with soldiers. Her father-in-law, Ed Horman, went to Chile to help. “Bless his courageous soul,” she told the Observer. “He came to the heart of the coup to look for his only son.” Today, sher considers herself privileged to at least know the circumstances of her husband’s death when so many families of the 3,000 Chileans who went missing still do not. “Missing is a dreadful state of mind: so many have lived for years without knowing.”