the Death of Pinochet
This is a selection of articles and public statements on the death of the dictator Pinochet, who end up his days in impunity, protected by the governements of the ruling political alliance (Concertación) and all of the political class. His dark period in power will not only be remebered for what it was as a tyranny marked by torture and political murder, but also, as the start of an economic and political model that increased the traditional marginalisation and exclusion of the Chilean popular sectors to its highest degree.The struggle for liberation was not over with the formal end of the dictatorship and it won't be over with the death of this criminal.
Public statement on Pinochet’s death
The darkest figure of our country’s history has just passed away. He, who was a mixture of a mythological monster and scumbag, expired on Saturday the 10th of December, on the afternoon, paradoxically, on the very day that happens to be the Human’s Rights international day. We cannot find the words to fully describe the heinous legacy of this creepy animal, who was nothing but the puppet of international capitalists and US imperialism in order to defeat a people building socialism from below and who walked the road to overcome the narrow frame of the bourgeois-democracy offered by reformists; the military dictatorship started on a dark September the 11th, 1973, did not only bring us annihilation, missing prisoners, torture and exile for thousands of brothers and sisters, but also it condemned the generations to come to live out of the scraps generated by the system of neoliberal accumulation of capital, founded on fire and blood. Taking all this into account we declare:
1. That while the US Department of State declared to be on the side of the people that had to suffer the consequences of the military coup, in this very moment, they condemn millions of human beings in Iraq, Afghanistan and all over the world to the same kind of atrocities; this glamorous beasts do not acknowledge, at the same time, that it was they who planned the coup, being the main beneficiaries of the resulting neoliberal model. Today, instead of taking a cowardly distance, they should say thanks to the dictator for all the benefits they got when he got rid of those “marxist and anarchic hordes” that had the country ‘under siege’. Without their massacre and without the resulting 17 years dictatorship it would not have been possible to impose the new “development” model for Chile, and therefore, on the rest of the world.
2. That the ones to give continuity to Pinochet’s legacy, those who seat happily in the ICARE, in the dinners organised by the Production and Commerce Chamber, those who administer the country while having their breakfast in the Palace of Government, are all united under the figure of the dictator, though they can state otherwise in their speeches. The government alliance that administers the power of the rich ones is beyond the parties that explicitly form it. It is a concubinage of the right wing and the social-democracy in a single block of power that represents the interests of the national bourgeoisie and of the monopolist international capitalism, against the interests of the bulk of the people.
3. That, in the face of the attitudes of the army, we know that, since the battle of Lircay they have always been ready to draw their swords and attempt coups whenever the merchants bourgeoisie call them to defend their interests; therefore, we cannot be surprised with the special treatment and the submission to them showed by the current administration; being the military caste the guarantee of the bourgeois institutional order, as stated in the cursed Constitution of 1980.
4. That Pinochet’s death was an occasion of popular protest against impunity and against an economic model that keeps it stranglehold around our necks; taking this into account, we believe that Bachelet’s government manoeuvres in order not to give State honours to Pinochet was only intending not to be overwhelmed, at the end of the first year of her weak government, by a people with an enormous frustration and an indescribable anger against the impunity of murderers and torturers. Thus, we want out to vomit our anger in her face, to the Palace of government, as well as in our own neighbourhoods and squares, reassuring our own identity in struggle.
5. That, if we are sharper to interpret events, we believe that whoever affirms something negative –Pinochet was not a president- as an argument not to give State honours on behalf of a government that boasts to be respectful of law and the institutional order, is affirming at the same time, something positive that is the contrary of its denial –that the regime was itself illegitimate and that the dictator’s constitution is therefore illegitimate in origin. The government has therefore got entangled in an elementary bourgeois-judicial contradiction while clinging to the current state of affairs founded with the tyranny. Now, the people made its historical judgement on the streets and that has been an absolute fact. To understand this logic exercise is to understand fully the Pinochet’s constitution on its historical dimension, as well as his economic legacy. Therefore, it entitles us to overcome in a revolutionary fashion the dictatorship of the capitalists, with a new historical project of a legitimacy of a POPULAR SOCIALIST AND LIBERTARIAN nature.
For those who fell in the struggle yesterday, today and in the future
We will not fail you!
ORGANIZACION COMUNISTA LIBERTARIA – CHILE
Tuesday 12th of December, day of the beast incineration
The Shadow of Pinochet over Chile
He died because he had to, because we all have to. That tyrant that thought he was invincible, the one that said that in our country not a single leaf moved without him knowing it, the one of the dark specs and those spooky speeches addressing the nation, he was taken away by the grim reaper. Our feelings about this are very confusing: on the one hand, we are glad to know that we don’t have to keep inhabiting the same world with such a heinous figure, nor breathing the same air. But we have a bitter feeling as we know that he passed away without being tried, protected by his amnesty laws and the governments of the ruling coalition, “la Concertación”. They remained always faithful to that pact with which they negotiated their power share. Let us remember that no one forced them to rush to London, back in 1998, to give a hand to their generalisimo, when he was facing some serious trouble. With not a trace of shame, they were the real protectors of the people’s murderer. We will never forget that “la Concertación” as an accomplice bear in their own consciousness the weight of thousands dead.
It has been them, the ruling coalition (including the Socialist party), that has been administering the institutions inherited by Pinochet, his State, his Constitution, his economic model. They are the ones who have resorted to his legacy of repressing the people in struggle and the mapuche indians. They are the ones who have grown rich with neoliberalism, which was founded with bullets and blood. They are the ones. And maybe because of that they are the ones that have more reasons than anyone else to be happy. Because the old crook is dead, because he’s no longer a problem for them, because it represents no longer their dark consciousness, because there is one reason less for all those nasty human rights’ lawyers to give them hassle. Because the living proof of the crime upon which the institutions of our country are founded is gone; institutions that they happily administer, by the way. He was gone without a trial but who are we trying to deceive? Not even in a thousand years time, if he was going to live that long, he would have been tried by “La Concertación”. He’s gone never to be tried, that’s why I suppose they might be so happy.
With the corpse of Pinochet, they think they can bury all those dead standing in the way. But in order to erase the face of Pinochet from the face of Chile, they should do what they did in the past with the ancient kings: he should be buried with all of its belongings –his army, his State, his innumerable pages of laws and his Constitution. His death is only making obvious the various contradictions in today’s Chile.
Some say that he is a dividing figure in the country: but he was only making too evident the division that has always existed between the elites and the riff raff, division that is reflected dramatically in a political system that works as a gigantic machine to exclude and marginalise 90% of the population.
President Bachelet said she would be shocked to give official State honours to the tyrant. But if she were being honest, she would have given him State honours: after all, it is she who is at the head of Pinochet State. Whether she likes it or not, she’s his successor. She should, at least, be kind enough for that little favour. Otherwise, if she is not to be the heir of the butcher, let her be coherent and put forward the extermination of the institutions inherited by the dictator, or at least, their democratic reform. This ambivalence between supervised democracy and authoritarianism has given to the Chilean capitalist class its particular flavour for the last three decades.
Though Pinochet is dead, his shadow will remain haunting us, what a pity for the traitors and opportunistic ones in “la Concertación”. His legacy is alive in our country, and its living personification is the army and the counter-insurgency State. But above all, it is the dual power that the army holds in practice. It is no coincidence that the Chilean flags were waving half mast in the barracks, but not in the rest of the State buildings. This happens because they are not subordinated to the civil powers and the do what they want. Whenever they feel like it, they might kick out any other government that might become “too radical”. Those half mast flags represent the supremacy of the military over the executive (something typical of dependent countries where the weakness of the bourgeoisie is compensated through the strength of the military).
Pinochet was condemned long ago by the entire world, something in Chile “la Concertación” was not able to do. Even the White House, referring to the death of Pinochet, took some distance from this psycho they put in power and hypocritically declared that their sorrow lied with the victims of his bloody reign. He had even to ask pathetically for his corpse to be incinerated, to avoid his tomb being desecrated. The sole sincere friend he ever seemed to have was Margaret Thatcher, both of them being made out of the same fabric, the Iron Lady. She seemingly was the only person to express sadness for his decease.
Well, of course, apart from the military and a number of pathetic ladies waving flags outside the Military Hospital. They said that 60,000 people went to see his coffin (including one person that conveniently spat it and three nutcases that did the nazi salute); this was completely outnumbered by the funeral, last year of his arch-enemy during the 80s, the general secretary of the Communist Party, Gladys Marín, who was visited by around 1,000,000 people.
In the slums of Chile, a bit of happiness was felt, a bit of frustration and a bit of anger: after all, those are the elements that constitute the soul of our generation, a generation that grew under the military boots, the ones that had to put up with his speeches, those who learnt to read and write under that grey sky. Those of us, as an anarchist paper said angrily in the 80s, who did our first communion and masturbated for the first time under Pinochet. That generation developed its senses with the heinous sight of the military in commando dress on the streets, with the sound of bullets and empty pots, with a bitter taste in the mouth –impotence and anger-, with the heat of the barricades felt on its skin, and with the smell of the barricade’s smoke and of tear gas bombs. This generation learnt that its natural political space was in the street and learnt to struggle since a very young age.
We felt, as I said, a bit of joy and anger. Joy, because they die and we will live forever. Joy because without rotten people like him, there’s an actual space for a new world. Joy just for the sake of it, for it seemed that this crook was going to stay forever haunting our country. And anger, for he was gone without a trial and without receiving the news of our victory to come. So who is now going to take away from us that bitter taste after all the victims who were left behind claiming for justice, and our people were left beaten, alienated, repressed, impoverished, drowning in debts and want in the middle of the Chilean “Economic Miracle”? Who, comrade? The people and no one but the people. And how are they going to do it? Struggling, creating the people’s power. The struggle keeps going on and victory belongs to us.
José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
Pinochet: Dead at last
For lovers of freedom, 2006 has been a good year with P.W. Botha, Milton Friedman and now General Pinochet shuffling off this mortal coil. Pinochet was the head of the military dictatorship which overthrew (with the aidand backing of the CIA) the democratically elected Chilean government ofMarxist Salvador Allende on September 11th, 1973. Officially,his troops killed or disappeared over 3,000 people (according to Human Rights and Church groups, it is over 10,000). Thousands were tortured and tens of thousands went into exile.
The standard defence of the regime was that it stopped Chile becoming a socialist state. Did Pinochet stop Chile sliding into "Communist dictatorship"? No, but he did stop the Chilean working class from itsattempts to expand liberty by taking over their workplaces, land and communities. As the Situationist group PointBlank! noted, "Allende was overthrown, not because of his reforms, but because he was unable to control the revolutionary movement which spontaneously developed at the base of the UP." ("Strange Defeat: The Chilean Revolution,1973")
What was shocking for many on the liberal and labourite left was that Chile had South America's strongest democratic traditions. If it could happen there, it could happen here they thought (and in the context of the 1970s, this was a real possibility). However, Thatcher's election and subsequent mishandling of the economy broke the back of working class resistance. While state repression was required to break the miners strike, theneed for a coup had declined as Thatcher had ensured that workers were forced to take the road to serfdom after tasting freedom in the rebellious'70s.
Pinochet would probably have went down in history as yet another blood-soaked military dictator except for one thing, his embrace of Milton Friedman's economic ideology. Due to this, Chile became a test-case for whatbecame known as neo-liberalism and it has been used as a template aroundthe world for economic "reform", including here under Thatcher. The results have been remarkably consistent and very far from the "economic miracle" proclaimed by the "free-market" right. In fact, the reality was radically different and hardly "miraculous" unless you were wealthy. As one expert summarises, Chilean workers "were central target's of political repression and suffered greatly from his state terror. They also paid a disproportionate share of the costs of his regime's regressive social policies. Workers and their organisations were also the primary targets of Pinochet's labour laws and among the biggest losers from his policies of privatisation and deindustrialisation." (Winn, Peter (ed.), Victims of the Chilean Miracle: Workers and Neoliberalism in the Pinochet Era, 1973-2002, p. 10)
After a deep recession caused by applying Monetarist shock-treatment in 1975 (the economy fell by 13%), it started to rebound. This is the source of claim of a Chilean "economic miracle." Friedman, for example, used 1976 as his base-line, so excluding the depression year of 1975which his recommended shock treatment had deepened. This is dishonest asit fails to take into account not only the impact of neo-liberal policies but also that a deep recession often produces a vigorous upsurge - particularly is workers are too terrified to ask for pay rises. Ironically, soon after Friedman proclaimed his "miracle" the bottom fell outof the economy and Chile's GDP fell 14% in 1982.
The crisis forced the regime to abandon its Monetarist dogmas and bailout the capitalist class. The economy finally stabilised in 1986, but ata cost paid by the country's workers: "By 1988, the average realwage had returned to 1980 levels, but it was still well below 1970 levels. Moreover, in 1986, some 37 percent of the labour force worked in the informal sector, where wages were lower and benefits often non-existent. Many worked for minimum wage, which in 1988 provided only half of what an average family required to live decently -- and a fifth of the workers didn't even earn that . . . nearly half of Chileans lived in poverty." (Winn, p. 48) The level of state intervention pursued by Pinochet's regime post-crash made opponents talk of "the Chicago road to socialism." Working class people, on the other hand, faced state repression after taking to the streets in response to the crash.
Between 1970 and 1990, Chile's total GDP grew by a decidedly average 2% a year. The average growth in GDP was 1.5% per year between 1974 and 1982, which was lower than the average Latin American growth rate of 4.3% and lower than the 4.5% of Chile in the 1960's. For the 1981-90 period, itwas just 1.84% a year. Hardly an economic miracle, particularly once thesocial costs thrust upon the terrorised population are taken into account (unsurprisingly, Friedman's Chilean followers affirmed that "ina democracy we could not have done one-fifth of what we did.")
Somewhat ironically, Chile provided substantial empirical evidence to refute Friedman's own capitalist ideology. In "Capitalism and Freedom", he asserted that the more capitalist a country, the more equal it was. Inequality under Pinochet soared to record levels and Chilewent from the second most equal to the second most unequal society in South America. The "distribution of income in Chile in 1988,after a decade of free-market policies, was markedly regressive." Between 1978 and 1988 the richest 10% of Chileans increased their share of national income from 37 to 47%, while the next 30% saw their share shrink from 23 to 18%. The income share of the poorest fifth of the population dropped from 5 to 4 %. Overall, "wages stayed low even as the economy began to recover. Low wages were key to the celebrated 'miracle' recovery . . . The average wage . . . was 5 percent lower at the end ofthe decade than it had been in 1981 and almost 10 percent lower than theaverage 1970 wage." After 1982, "stagnant wages and theunequal distribution of income severely curtailed buying power for most Chileans, who would not recover 1970 consumption levels until 1989." (John Lear and Joseph Collins, "Working in Chile's Free Market", pp. 10-29, Latin American Perspectives, vol. 22, No. 1, p=2E 26, p. 21 and p. 25)
Friedman had also been at pains to attack trade unions and the idea that they defended the worker from coercion by the boss. Nonsense, he asserted, the "employee is protected from coercion by the employer because of other employers for whom he can work." Chile refuted that notion, for "in wake of the coup, factory owners suddenly had absolute control over their workers and could fire any worker without case=2E From 1973 through 1978, practically every labour right for organised and unorganised workers was suspended. All tools of collective bargaining, including of course the right to strike, were outlawed." After1978, the labour code designed by Friedman's acolytes made it extremely difficult to strike, particularly as "employers could count on the backing of the military in any conflict with workers." (Lear and Collins, p. 13)
Which refutes Friedman's attempts to support the economic policies of the regime while paying lip-service to criticising its dictatorial nature=2E It staggers belief that any intelligent person could argue such a position, given that the political system must have an impact on the economic system. If the former is authoritarian, it would be hardly surprising to discover that the economy, at least for workers, would also be authoritarian. Given that workers faced a visit from the secret police if they got uppity, it is clear that there was no "economic liberty" for them. To state otherwise simply shows that the person has no concept of what liberty means - but, then, Friedman was an ideologue for capitalism so this can be taken for granted.
It is true that the atomised labour market produced by state terror did approximate the neo-classical ideal as there were no or weak unions andworkers were unwilling to take collective action. The results, as noted above, were only a "miracle" for the bosses. Any link between productivity and wages went out the window. Even in the 1990s, there is evidence that productivity growth outpaced real wage growth by as much as aratio 3:1 in 1993 and 5:1 in 1997. (Winn, p. 73) Being able to seek a new job did not stop exploitation particularly as Chile (yet again!) refuted another of Freidman's assertions about capitalism, namely that people would "be surprised how fast people would be absorbed by a growingprivate-sector economy." In fact, unemployment reached record levels for decades. During the 1960s it had hovered around 6%; by contrast, the unemployment level for the years 1974 to 1987 averaged 20% of the workforce. Even in the best years of the boom (1980-1981) it stayed as high as 18%. (Lear and Collins, p. 22)
The only miracle about Chile's economy is how anyone with any knowledge or intellect could claim it was an "economic miracle" based on "economic liberty."
Chile is now a democracy. However, the legacy of Pinochet still remains. Over a quarter of the Senate are "designated" including four retired military officers named by the National Security Council. He also imposed a "unique binomial electoral law, [in] which to elect two deputies or senators from the same district, a party or electoral alliance needed to double its opponent's vote -- a difficult feat -- or else the opponent received an equal number of seats in congress." This ensured rightist control of the Senate despite a decade of majority victories by the centre-left in elections. Pinochet threatened on 11 September 1990 that he would lead another coup is conditions warranted it. Threeyears later, he ordered combat-ready troops onto the streets for an "exercise" when investigations into an arms procurement scandal implicated his son. Even with a controlled democracy, "Pinochet maintained an army 'shadow cabinet' that acted as a political pressuregroup." However, the new centre-left governments have managed some reforms. For example, through targeted social spending" the new government "was able to halve the 1988 45 percent poverty rate bequeathed by Pinochet." (Winn, p. 64, p. 50 p. 52)
It is one of the ironies of life that Pinochet died on Human Rights day. That the dictator never saw his day in court is unsurprising, given how popular he was in elite circles and how he ensured that "democratic" Chile was bound by his will. He was a murderous thug whom no saneand civilised person could feel any emotion bar hatred or disgust for. That the right-wing embraced him so fully (while paying lip-service to condemning his political regime) says a lot about them. It also shows how little they are concerned about logic, empirical evidence and (needless to say) liberty.