Revolt in Chile: Life Against Capital

Mural by Brigadas Ramona Parra.

“It’s not 30 pesos, it’s 30 years”

At the beginning of October 2019, a $0.04 increase in the subway fare went into effect in the city of Santiago. A few days later, high school students began organizing days of direct action, calling on people to evade paying the ticket as a sign of protest against the measure imposed by the government. The act of jumping over turnstiles in metro stations spread rapidly and student organizations called for a day of massive evasion on Friday, October 18, under the slogan “Evade, don’t pay, another form of struggle.” The population massively responded to the call and protests took place in the city’s main metro stations that were met with brutal repression by the Carabineros of Chile (an armed police force under the Ministry of the Interior) and the suspension of public transportation in several central points of the Santiago. This situation led to chaos at rush hour, as millions of residents were returning home from work. At nightfall, the population, indignant at the police action and the government’s reaction, spilled out onto the streets, banging their pots and pans. Barricades went up all over the city, and in a matter of hours, the largest social uprising in the country had begun, going from a reaction to the fare increase to a general challenge to the living conditions imposed over more than forty years of orthodox neoliberalism.

Only a few days before the beginning of the popular revolt, Sebastián Piñera, the multimillionaire businessman who is serving his second term as president, described Chile as an “oasis of peace” in the midst of a Latin America in turmoil. His words coincided with the image that the country had exported to the rest of the work for decades: a stable democracy, favorable macroeconomic indexes, a reduction in poverty, increase in per capita income, high levels of access to consumer goods, among other characteristics that made Chile the exceptional case of successful neoliberalism in a region traversed by political instability and popular resistance to the application of monetary recipes. However, the revolt that has launched and maintained the country in its most important social and political crisis since the end of the dictatorship has also caused this appearance to collapse and exposed the foundation of inequality holding up a system that, since it was established through blood and fire by the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and the Chicago Boys, has been deepened and perfected in democracy, both by the governments of the former Concertación (a coalition of center-left parties that led the transition to democracy) and the two right-wing governments led by Piñera.

The commodification of all spheres of social life – including elements such as water, health care, education, and pensions – and the constitution of a type of state that is at the service of corporate accumulation through subsidies to private providers of social services, which guarantees them high profit levels, have been the basis of Creole neoliberalism in Chile for four and a half decades. These two tendencies have resulted in a continuous increase in inequality and the accumulation of large levels of social discontent in increasingly larger segments of the population.1 We can use some data to outline this situation in broad strokes: the top 1% of the population concentrates 26% of the GDP, while the 50% of households with lower incomes only holds 2.1% of the country’s wealth,2 which makes Chile the most unequal country in the OECD and one of the thirty with the worst income distribution at a global level.3 Fifty percent of workers earn around $4604 a month and pension payments average $340,5 numbers that are absolutely insufficient to pay for life and that keep a much greater percentage of the population in poverty than that recognized by official statistics.6 This situation largely explains the population’s high levels of debt, which, according to recent data from the Central Bank, in the last trimester of 2019 reached record levels that represent 75% of the disposable income of Chilean households.7

Under these conditions, which are only a sample, there is a growing sense of exhaustion and awareness of living in an unjust country, where common citizens have to make enormous efforts to make ends meet while large corporations benefit from a system designed for them. The repeated cases of price collusion for basic goods, tax evasion, fiscal fraud by the military and carabineros, among other cases of business and state corruption have exhausted the patience of those who feel the weight of those abuses. “It is not 30 pesos, it is 30 years” was one of the first slogans that emerged from this revolt and one of those that best summarizes its meaning. The Chilean people have accumulated rage, indignation, and frustrations for decades, until the increase in subway fare was the detonator of a social earthquake that, among other things, has marked the end of a neoliberal consensus in a country that was its birthplace and, up until a few weeks ago, an exemplary model.

The Emergence of a New Social Composition and the Limits of the Lefts

Beyond the blind spot of the elite who have insisted on the unexpected and inexplicable nature of this crisis, the signs of exhaustion of the legitimacy of neoliberalism have been felt in a sustained and growing manner in Chile since the beginning of the 2000s. Countless social conflicts, with different impacts, have developed in relation to the dispossession of natural resources and social services. The struggles against water privatization and its theft by agricultural companies, the struggles of communities against mega-mining, and the contamination of so-called “zones of sacrifice,” the struggles of precarious workers in the public and private sector, the massive mobilizations for the right to education and for a new pension system, the mass emergence of a feminism with an anti-neoliberal content and the sustained resistance of the Mapuche people against the colonial character of the state, the dispossession of its communities and the militarization of its territories – a constant feature during the entire post-dictatorship period – are some of the threads that show that Chilean society not only has been accumulating discontent but also that, at the same time, new social actors have been shaped that are capable of questioning the model and opening new political horizons.

The revolt in October occurs within this cycle of challenges to neoliberalism that, with highs and lows, has been intensifying in recent years, but, at the same time, it marks a turning point that, because of its magnitude and social composition, surpasses earlier moments of contestation. What appears as a novelty is that this time, it is not specific sectors of society that rebel, but rather, for the first time in recent history, it is an effective majority of the population that takes to the streets spontaneously with an unexpected force and radicality. This massiveness confirms that it is the most broad and transversal movement that has emerged in Chilean society in recent history, including heterogeneous social groups ranging from the popular sectors who have been most affected by exclusion and inequality to middle-class sectors that are experiencing the precarization of their living conditions and, faced with the inexistence of a system of social protection, feel the constant threat of falling down the social ladder, whether due to losing a job, the levels of debt, illness, or reaching old age without the pension savings that would allow them to reach a sufficient retirement to live.

On the other hand, unlike other processes of social mobilization in the recent cycle, that were led by organized social actors with a capacity to mobilize large numbers of people, such as the student movement, and created clear leaders who became political figures on the margins of representative democracy, the predominant feature of this revolt is its organic and spontaneous character and the lack of identifiable leaders. The streets have been overwhelmed by a people that without waiting to be called by any organization – and before those organizations were even capable of reacting – turned to protesting in a completely spontaneous way. The enormous massiveness and transversality of the mobilization reached its peak October 25, when, according to official statistics, there were more than 1,200,000 people gathered on the streets of Santiago. The absence of banners from political parties or the large political movements in the concentrations seems to mean that the immense majority of those who participate do not come from traditional political organizations, nor do they belong to the activist cultures of the historical left. Instead, the presence of Mapuche flags (the wenufoye and Wüñellfe) has been very significant, as well as the green bandanna that symbolizes the struggle for access to abortion, as well as the banners and jerseys of the main soccer teams. This reveals that in Chile, similar to what occurred previously in several Latin American and Caribbean countries, the traditional modes of politics are being exhausted, clearly demonstrating the incapacity and limits of representative democracy to channel the aspirations of the social majorities.

Thus this popular revolt occurs in a moment when the traditional forms that articulated the workers’ movement, the popular field, and the middle classes – unions, historical leftist and center-left parties – have experienced ongoing processes of collapse and emptying out. These processes can be explained by a combination of factors ranging from transformations in the composition and structure of the working class, which have undermined trade union organizations, to the collusion between political elites, including those of the center-left, with business interests, which has ultimately delegitimized the political system as a whole. To give a few examples, currently in Chile the unionization barely reaches 20%.8 Therefore, an enormous mass of workers, especially those subjected to the harshest conditions of exploitation and precarity and to the hyperflexible forms of labor of this neoliberal phase, are not represented by the union structure. In respect to party politics, the distance with the whole of society is enormous and continues deepening. If in 1988, when the dictatorship was coming to an end, only 6% of the population identified as not having a political position, today that figure is 63%, which is consistent with the high levels of electoral abstention, which exceeded 50% in the last presidential election. In this context, the lefts, both the historical parties – the Communist Party and the Socialist Party – as well as the new crop, grouped in the recently formed Frente Amplio (FA), do not show more encouraging numbers. If in 1993, 37% of the population declared themselves part of the left, today only 14% identify with that political side.9

Within this context that has been taking shape for several years, the situation opened by the social uprising made the limits of social organizations, partisan lefts, and particularly the FA for channeling demands and developing new ways of doing politics even more evident. The young grouping of the new left, primarily made up of university sectors of the professional middle class, which presented itself only two years ago as a project of rupture with traditional politics and that includes among its ranks well-known leaders from the student struggle, instead of acting as an articulating agent of social struggle, has ended up becoming part of the political practices that it had set out to overcome. Signing the agreement to change the political constitution behind closed doors and behind the back of the mobilized people in which social movements were excluded, the support of a group of legislators of the coalition for a package of repressive laws promoted by Pinera’s government, were heavily criticized and caused the group to be largely discredited among the mobilized sectors.10

Thus, this revolt expresses the social conflicts that emerged from the new forms of inequality created by neoliberalism that not find a place on the actually existing left and take off through different channels, with new logics, and also, new types of identities, imaginaries, and desires. The people that is on the streets is heterogeneous in its social and generational composition, it expresses the new forms of labor, the new exclusions caused and intensified by neoliberal modernization, as well as new subjectivities shaped by promises of social integration through integration into the labor market, higher education, and consumption, and, often, by the frustration of those expectations, which are unreachable under the prevailing conditions of precarity and insecurity. In this way, the mobilizations bring together high school and university students, precarious young professionals, residents of peripheral neighborhoods, sectors of a fragile and unstable “middle class,” soccer fan clubs (a symbol of poor and stigmatized youth), skilled and unskilled waged workers, retirees and older adults, office workers and app workers, among others. The condition shared by this disparate set of social groups is the precarity experienced to a greater or lesser degree, felt as a threat or experienced as an effective reality, the anger in the face of abuses of the economic and political elite and a transversal rejection of institutional politics.

This social majority that has taken to the streets accounts for the emergence of a people gestated over many years within one of the most radical experiences of neoliberalism at a global level. Its appearance has completely overflowed the political system and the organizations that traditionally channeled the interests of subaltern classes. It marks a point of no return in the cycle of anti-neoliberal struggles in Chile: the moment in which a majority rises up to demand another type of life, and, with it, another type of society. Herein lies the novelty and potency of this revolt and the challenges that it imposes in political terms.

Scenes of an Expansive Revolt

In the three months of the revolt, the mobilizations have mutated, expanded, and multiplied in different spaces and territories. They have moved from the streets and plazas to neighborhoods and places of work and study. They have gone from complete spontaneity to organizing new forms of resistance and collective decision-making. The first massive concentrations took place in one of the city’s central plazas, rebaptized Dignity Plaza by the revolt, and were completely spontaneous. Thousands of people started gathering there day after day, enormous concentrations of people, without banners from political parties or union organizations, overflowing the plaza with handmade signs, soccer team flags, green bandannas, and a massive presence of the Mapuche flag. Without stages or speakers, without leaders or directors, the plaza and surrounding areas turned into a mixture of protest, party, and war. Young people dancing and drinking beer, confrontations with the police, performances, improvised concerts and a multiplication of practices of disobedience made up the generalized refusal of the curfew imposed by the government in the early weeks.

The brutal repression unleashed by the government generated a rapid organization of resistance and care: pickets of young people rescue those injured by police action and transfer them to medic points housed in cultural centers, student federations, and passageways made available by residents living in the vicinity of the so-called “ground zero.” Others provide legal assistance to the detained and victims of repression. A front line armed with improvised shields made up of satellite TV antennas, cans, traffic signs, or wooden boards, directly confront the police allowing the rest of protesters to stay relatively protected from police brutality. Improvised groups organized a Christmas dinner for the youth on the front line and a New Year’s Eve party in Dignity Plaza that was attended by thousands of people.

Soon after the start of the uprising, along with street protests and large demonstrations, assemblies and councils were called in a multitude of social spaces throughout the country: neighborhoods, workplaces, study centers, soccer stadiums, neighborhood meetings, etc. In these gatherings, thousands of people have come together to discuss, to make shared diagnoses of the most urgent social problems, and to elaborate solutions and proposals. In the assemblies, participants collectively identify forms of domination and exploitation, the precarity of life and work, the exclusion of many people from the political decisions that affect society as a whole, and inequalities that are politically produced and maintained. They debate the tax system, the state of the public health care system, the issue of pensions. Desires and images of different ways of organizing collective life start to circulate, desires and images of freedom, of happiness, of well-being constitute the affective engine of this popular rebellion that transversally interpellates both the macropolitical structures that order social life, as well as everyday, neighborhood, work, and personal life, spheres that are revisited and questioned in terms of their suffocating character or the suffering that they generate, and reimagined as spaces of freedom, of enjoyment, and the full development of human potential.

Thus, over the course of a few weeks, forms of popular self-organization have been developed that are surprising in their levels of complexity, their ability to resolve the problems imposed by police repression and to articulate collective decision-making. For many participants, these have been their first experiences of social mobilization and collective organization, and it is undoubtedly here where much of the revolt’s potential lies for configuring organizations and forms of collective action that are suitable for the new social composition that has emerged.

Against Neoliberal Capture of Democracy and Social Reproduction

These communitarian deliberative processes produced within the revolt encapsulate a struggle to recuperate for the social majority the power to make decisions about the ends of collective life, about the common, about processes of production and social reproduction and, ultimately, a struggle against the neoliberal capture of democracy. If indeed neoliberalism has created anything, aside from inequality in the distribution of wealth and the destruction of life in all its forms, it is an ever greater colonization of the processes of social reproduction in order to generate rents – and with it the absolute commodification of social rights in Chile – and, in political terms, a continual dispossession of subaltern groups: a barrier to their possibilities of determination in the organization of social life, an exclusion of their interests in public decision making, and a disarming of their instruments of collective action.

To recuperate the power to make decisions by the majority over the conditions of social reproduction becomes fundamental in the setting of the ongoing struggles. That’s why the demand for a new political constitution has become central, because it represents the possibility to establish new foundations for common life and to put an end to the tethers inherited from the dictatorship. The horizon of a new constitution that disassembles the subsidiary state and consecrates social rights, that recognizes the plurinational character of the state and the rights of nations that live within this territory, that makes possible substantive forms of democracy (binding plebiscites, popular legislative initiatives, recall of elected authorities, etc.), has been opened for the first time in the country’s history by the force of social mobilization, and that is an enormous event that we are trying to understand while it is still in motion.

In addition, the uprising in Chile shows the extent to which the contemporary class struggle has grown to exceed its formal comprehension as something that only concerns the productive sphere – wages and labor rights – and extended itself to the broad field of social reproduction and democracy in the form of demands for healthcare, pensions, housing, the environment, etc. The battles to recuperate life and the people’s decision making power present themselves thus as the principal scenes for the next political confrontations, where the collision of social interests in dispute will take place between majorities that desire new forms of life beyond capital and the defenders of the current system of social and political dispossession. The reaction of the dominant classes and of the state’s security apparatuses facing this revolt has made clear that the struggle will continue to be vicious.

Capital’s War on Life

“We’re at war against a powerful enemy,” argued Sebastián Piñera – who still occupies the presidency of the republic – on national television several hours after the beginning of the revolt. His words, qualified weeks later as a miscommunication, expressed in precise form the repressive strategy implemented by the government, which has included the deployment of soldiers in the streets, the declaration of a state of emergency suspending constitutional rights, and the imposition of a curfew, decisions that have generated scandalous numbers of human rights violations. The images of police violence and accounts of mutilations, tortures, rapes, political persecution, censorship, disappearances, murders, and other abuses now circulate widely through social networks, documenting a level of cruelty that cannot be explained except as the application of a systematic policy destined to use terror to crush and subdue the mobilized population. 

The national mass media, all effectively privatized and monopolistically controlled by families that own the country, have established a significant media blackout complicit with the interests of the business and political classes that occupy power, and if indeed this did not begin during the current social uprising, it is as a situation that is now more visible than ever. The total absence of hegemonic television, radio, and print outlets during the now daily mass demonstrations is common, and their editorial lines are clearly to criminalize social protest, focusing any coverage they provide on disorder and the destruction of private property. Aggression against alternative and community media, as well as against some international media outlets like Telesur, Reuters, and various journalists from the Argentine media, demonstrate the state’s interest in blocking access to information about the repression deployed in broad daylight on the streets of Chile. 

According to the National Institute of Human Rights (Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos, INDH), over the course of the protests there have been almost 9,500 detentions and reports of nearly 1,500 human rights violations, including 207 reports of sexual violence (stripping, groping, and raping) and 392 reports of torture.11 The recurring practice of firing anti-riot shotguns at the protesters’ faces has caused more than 350 eye injuries, which in many cases has meant the loss of an eye and has left two young people completely blind. Meanwhile, the number of deaths has reached 31 and injuries by gunshot more than 2,000. This magnitude of state/capital violence has not been seen since the years of military dictatorship.

What explains these flagrant violations of human rights in a democratic regime? Why, when faced with an unarmed people’s mass peaceful protests, do the state and the government react with this level of repression?

A first element to consider is that the repressive measures implemented in Chile and the militarization of social conflict are not, from a geopolitical point of view, isolated facts: we recently witnessed a coup d’etat in Bolivia and a brutal repression of social movements and indigenous communities in the Andean nation; in Colombia as well as in Ecuador, soldiers were sent to the streets to repress popular protests, and in both cases, just as in Chile, constitutional states of exception and curfews were declared. Added to this scene is the historical interventionism of the United States in the region, now pursued from within the Donald Trump administration as seen in the case of Venezuela and more recently in Bolivia, to mention only two of the gravest examples. With regard to the social protests that have marked the conjuncture, only a few weeks ago the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered his willingness to support the “legitimate governments” of the continent to avoid allowing citizen protests to be “kidnapped” by the regimes in Venezuela and Cuba. This illustrates the background for the recrudescence of repression toward social groups that rebel against the neoliberal mandate and the militarization of politics as a resource to neutralize social contestation. 

On the other hand, the levels of violence unleashed against the mobilized population in Chile must be understood within the framework of what some intellectuals and militants have been warning us about for years: the crisis of neoliberalism causes it to show its fascist face; when the legitimacy of the system cracks, it unleashes a repressive response that uses terror to discipline anyone who is no longer willing to passively accept the conditions of life that have been imposed.12 The incompatibility of neoliberalism and democracy expressed in times of “normality,” via dispossessing societies of their power of collective decision making, takes on a direct character in moments of open challenge against the existing order. Just as it was originally imposed with raw violence, the model is defended by the same means: repression, intimidation, and terror. In this sense, the extreme repression unleashed against the people protesting today in Chile is an index of what capital is willing to do to defend its interests, and of the speed with which forms of terror can be activated when movements appear that call into question the foundations of the social order, even when these movements do not have violence as a tactic and are absolutely undefended from a military point of view. 

In this setting of state terrorism, the level of contempt and disobedience of the people as they resist today in Chile offers hope. A people without fear challenge the constitutional state of exception and the curfew, going out en masse to protest during prohibited times. The right to occupy the streets has been defended by a creative and combative front line force made up of diverse individuals – now converted into heroes and heroines – who with rocks, slingshots, and improvised shields directly take on the police and their technologies of war. Despite the images of brutal beatings, burnings, and abuses, and stories of deeply denigrating insults, the terror has not managed to discipline the people; rather, it has sparked indignation and a collective will to take over public space and stand up to existing powers.

From Private Malaise to Collective Revolt

On Monday, November 25, in the context of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, an artistic collective called Las Tesis held a performance denouncing patriarchal violence exercised by the state, the justice system, the police, and the system as a whole. The intervention took place a little more than one month after the beginning of the social uprising, by which time the horrors of state repression were well known. The action was replicated all over Chile and in several days, the choreography of “Un violador en tu camino” (A rapist in your path) had a global reach. From Wallmapu – the historical territory of the Mapuche people – to Rojava, passing through Libya, India, Greece, Turkey, as well as numerous other cities from Latin America, Europe, and the United States, the rebel yell of the women was heard loud and clear all over the world. 

The speed with which this protest circulated, the magnitude it obtained, and the resignification that took place in diverse localities illuminate the conditions in which feminism today is being built and its potential as a dynamic movement with a great capacity for social mobilization at the world level. The protests against sexist violence, for the right to abortion, or the recent March 8 strikes combine massiveness, transversality, and a decentralized but effective capacity for coordination that is transforming feminism into a new internationalist and anticapitalist force.13 Nonetheless, together with this visible dimension at a global and local scale, the emergent contemporary feminism has impacts at other levels that it are worth holding onto. The politicization of everyday life; the processes of denaturalizing historically ingrained sexist or discriminatory practices; the power to name distinct types of violence and to identify the structures of power that exercise them; the capacity to continue generating an impulse toward collective action that removes women from private confinement, from guilt, and from the position of victimhood to transform them into political subjects – just to mention some processes unleashed by feminism – generate modifications in the social field, contributing to an amplified awareness and politicization. 

The October uprising in Chile is an example, if it were possible to synthesize in a few words the movement that has emerged in these few months of revolt, of what we would call a generalized passage from private malaise to collective revolt, a moment in which those sufferings that had been lived in domestic confinement, with guilt and loneliness, are brought out into public space, and understood as socially and politically produced, awakening a will to struggle as well as a mutual recognition between those who share experiences, feelings, fears, and common hopes. These are transformations from depoliticized victimization to political action, from guilt to demands, from resignation to disobedience, all driven mainly by the feminist movement in Chile in recent years. The mass protests against feminicide under the slogan NiUnaMenos, and the student mobilizations of what has been called the “Feminist May,” for example, have unleashed a growing awareness with respect to machista violence and sexual abuse in labor and educational contexts, generating a disposition of contempt for patriarchal norms, as well as rebellion against arbitrariness, discrimination, and injustices that were only recently accepted as natural. It is easy to see that the outbreak of struggle in October was preceded by the last March 8 Women’s Strike, when nearly 500,000 women filled the very plaza – rebaptized as the “Plaza of Dignity” – that today is taken over by society as a whole. These are not, and it’s necessary to emphasize this, disconnected facts. 

From this point of view, one can appreciate the subterranean work of a feminism that operates inside the social body and interrupts political and sexual relations in multiple venues simultaneously, provoking the forces and energies necessary for the transformation from private malaise to collective rebellion to become a mass disposition. Therefore, beyond the slogans that predominate, the sensibility awoken by feminism traverses an entire people that has now declared itself in rebellion.

Until life is worth living

Now, Chile exhibits a new face, leaving behind the triumphant image of a culturally and politically hegemonic neoliberalism as well as a people alienated by consumption and disinterested in its collective purpose. A social majority has expressed itself in the streets to demand a different kind of life. They are not represented by the classic structures of politics; they exceed the capacity of existing organizations and threaten the narrow limits of post-dictatorial democracy, as much for its forms as for the social interests that it represents. 

A disobedient society has emerged, above all a universe of young people that have made contempt a form of inhabiting the present. In their subway turnstile jumping that began these protests, in their frontal challenge to the military and police, and in all of the forms of irreverence toward the establishment that has filled these more than 80 days of revolt, a generation without fear has revealed itself, conscious of class inequality and with the ability to spread its rebellion to society as a whole. 

In the immediate term, the mobilizations have been able to occupy the political agenda and reinstall the big themes that put into play a structural transformation of the system, open the door to a process of constitutional change, and notify the political and business elites that neoliberalism no longer enjoys the conformation and adhesion of the social majorities. Nonetheless, it is also certain that the dominant class strongly resists any profound changes that would affect large economic interests, and, until now, save for some small adjustments, no relevant social reforms have been concretized in any area of importance, let alone affecting the foundations of the neoliberal model. The disarticulation of the various lefts, their zigzags and errors, have not contributed to the channeling of unleashed social energies and, in some cases, have operated in the exact opposite sense. 

Certainly, one of the horizons opened on the basis of this uprising is the creation of new forms of collective organization able to express the interests of this social majority that has leapt into the streets. The political autonomy of this popular force that has erupted onto the national scene is a challenge as complex as it is necessary for the battles to come. On this path, the temporalities are heterogeneous, and there are no shortcuts. For now, what is clear is that this revolt inaugurates a new chapter in the social struggles against neoliberalism in Chile, one protagonized by a people ready to recover the lives that capital has stolen from them and to struggle, as one of the most poignant slogans puts it: “until life is worth living.”

– Translated by Liz Mason-Deese and Robert Cavooris

References   [ + ]

1. For analysis of contemporary Chile and the political effects of neoliberal modernization, see Carlos Ruiz and Giorgio Boccardo, Los chilenos bajo el neoliberalismo. Clase y conflicto social (Santiago: El Desconcierto-Nodo XXI, 2014) and Carlos Ruiz, La política en el neoliberalismo. Experiencias latinoamericanas (Santiago: LOM Ediciones, 2019).
2. See the report, “The Social Panorama of Latin America 2019,” produced by ECLAC.
3. Data taken from the World Bank Gini Index.
4. Data taken from the report “Chile’s Low Wages” by the SOL Foundation.
5. Data taken from the report of the Superintendence of Pensions, March 2019.
6. Data from the study “The Poverty of the Chilean Model” by the SOL Foundation which indicates that taking into account income from work and current pensions in Chile, the poverty would go from the 8.6% recognized by the government according to its measurement system, to 29.4%.
7. Central Bank of Chile, “National Accounts by Institutional Sector, Third Trimester 2019.” According to the article, “With the rope around their necks: the accumulated debt that exploded in the October Revolt” by Felipe Saleh in El Mostrador (October 25, 2019), Chilean families allocate 25% of their income to paying debts and 1 in 4 Chileans over the age of 18 are delinquent on financial obligations.
8. Pía Toro, “Sindicalización se mantiene en 20% tras segundo año de Reforma Laboral,” La Tercera, April 28, 2019.
9. These numbers are taken from the report by Juan Pablo Figueroa and María José Ahumada, “The data behind an increasingly distant politics,” La Tercera, December 30, 2018.
10. On Friday November 10, representatives of the political parties of Sebastián Piñera’s government and the majority of the opposition parties, including the Frente Amplio, signed a call “Agreement for Social Peace and the New Constitution.” The document established the basis for a process of constitutional change. Its signing by members of the FA was harshly criticized by social movements and sectors of their own coalition, both for the closed character of the negotiation – that excluded the mobilized sectors from the discussion – and for the limits of the sovereignty of the constituent process contained in the agreement. Weeks later, on December 4, legislators from the Frente Amplio voted in favor of a law presented by Piñera’s government to criminalize social protest. Again, the support of Frente Amplio’s legislators for this law was harshly criticized by sectors of its own activists and other social movements.
11. The reports can be read here. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also have reports that cross-verify grave violations of human rights in Chile.
12. We recommend Diego Sztulwark, “Can Fascism Return? A View from Argentina,” trans. Liz Mason-Deese, Verso Blog, January 23, 2019, which corresponds to a portion of the book La ofensiva sensible. Neoliberalismo, populismo, y el reverso de la política [The sensitive offensive: Neoliberalism, populism, and the reverse of the political] (Buenos Aires: Caia Negra, 2019). We equally recommend “El neoliberalismo está mostrando su nueva fase, la incompatibilidad con la democracia,” an interview with Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Spanish Revolution, November 30, 2019.
13. In La potencia feminista, o el deseo de cambiarlo todo (Buenos Aires: Tinta Limón, 2019) Verónica Gago offers a stimulating reading of the force of contemporary feminisms beginning with the experience accumulated in the process of organizing the recent March 8 strikes in Argentina.

Authors of the article

is a sociologist with a Master's degree in Latin American Studies and Doctorate in Latin American Studies from the University of Chile. She is currently a researcher for the Fundación Nodo XXI.

is a sociologist with a Master's degree in Gender Studies and Doctorate in Latin American Studies from the University of Chile.