President Michelle Bachelet’s government has rejected a huge $8bn hydroelectric project in Chile’s Patagonia region, citing its adverse impact on the environment. The decision by the Chilean cabinet to shelve the controversial seven-year-old scheme was a victory for environmentalist groups which fought the proposal to build five dams in a pristine river basin. “The Hidroaysen hydroelectric project is hereby rejected,” said Pablo Badenier, the environment minister. Hundreds of people on Tuesday cheered the decision in the streets of Santiago and in the region of Aysen, about 1,300km south of the Chilean capital. Patricio Rodrigo, executive secretary of the Patagonia Defence Council, called the decision “the greatest triumph of the environmental movement in Chile”. It “marks a turning point, where an empowered public demands to be heard and to participate in the decisions that affect their environment and their lives,” Rodrigo said. The joint Spanish-Chilean venture formed for the project now has 30 days to challenge the decision in the Environmental Court of Valdivia in southern Chile.
Covert U.S. planning to block the democratic election of Salvador Allende in Chile began weeks before his September 4, 1970, victory, according to just declassified minutes of an August 19, 1970, meeting of the high-level interagency committee known as the Special Review Group, chaired by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. “Kissinger asked that the plan be as precise as possible and include what orders would be given September 5, to whom, and in what way,” as the summary recorded Kissinger’s instructions to CIA Director Richard Helms. “Kissinger said we should present to the President an action plan to prevent [the Chilean Congress from ratifying] an Allende victoryâ€¦and noted that the President may decide to move even if we do not recommend it.” The document is one of a compendium of some 366 records released by the State Department as part of its Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series. The much-delayed collection, titled “Chile: 1969-1973,” addresses Richard Nixon’s and Kissinger’s efforts to destabilize the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende, and the U.S.-supported coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power in 1973. The controversial volume was edited by two former officials of the State Department’s Office of the Historian, James Siekmeier and James McElveen.
A heap of ashes is allegedly all that remains of $500 million in “pagarés” — or debt papers — stolen and burned by a Chilean activist. A video by Francisco Tapia, aka “Papas Fritas,” went viral this week in which he confessed to burning the legal papers certifying debt owed by Universidad del Mar students and had thus liberated the students from their debt obligations. “It’s over, it’s finished,” Tapia said in his impassioned five minute video, the Santiago Time reported. “You don’t have to pay another peso [of your student loan debt]. We have to lose our fear, our fear of being thought of as criminals because we’re poor. I am just like you, living a shitty life, and I live it day by day — this is my act of love for you.” The university is still collecting on its student loans, but not without great difficulty. The destruction of the documents occurred during a “toma” — student takeover — of the campus and means the embattled university owners must now individually sue each of its students to assure debt payment — a very costly, time-consuming process, the paper reported. Tens of thousands of students flooded the streets of Chile last year, demanding education reform. Now, it seems, tensions are escalating once again.
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.