Plebiscite in chile: the new constitution is a historic fraud

In chile, the 4. September vote on new constitution. What position should revolutionaries:inside take on this? What does an independent alternative of the working:inner class and the masses look like? Statement from our chilean sister organization, PTR.

Plebiscite in Chile: the new constitution is a historic fraud

We are publishing below the statement of our chilean sister organization, the party of revolutionary workers:in (PTR), on the constitutional plebiscite on 4. September. It has been approved by the VI. National conference of PTR adopted and appeared first on 16. August 2022 in spanish at la izquierda diario chile.

Just a few weeks before the plebiscite on 4. September, all pro-government parties (from the communist party of chile to the reformist frente amplio to the parties of the former center-left coalition "concertacion") announced a new pact behind the backs of the population in order to appease the chilean right-wing as well as the capitalist:inner class. What will be discussed on 4. September actually voted? It is about a blank check for the parties to further restrict the already moderate draft of a new constitution and concoct reforms together with the right-wing sectors in congress.

The parties of the coalition "apruebo dignidad" (from which comes the current chilean president gabriel boric, A.D.U.) and those of the former "concertacion" pledged to continue to guarantee a mixed pension system under the new constitution, in which the afps (chile's private pension system) will continue to exist; they promised to reintroduce the state of emergency to use the military in case of "serious disruption of public security"; to protect the profits of private health clinics; to limit the judiciary and the consent of indigenous peoples; to further strengthen property rights; and to change some points of the political system.

However, there is no reason to be surprised. The post-rebellion 2019 "peace agreement" and the new constitution, as well as the transitional norms approved by all factions of the constitutional convention, have already given the current congress, elected under pinochet's constitution, numerous tools to do as it pleases.

Two attempts to restore the hegemony of the ruling class

The right-wing camp has conducted a hateful and demagogic campaign to reject the draft constitution at the plebiscite. Behind their slogans such as "freedom of choice," "equality before the law," and their fake news on housing, abortion, health, etc. Conceals a fierce defense of the legacy of the pinochet dictatorship, the afps, the isapres (private, for-profit health insurance companies), real estate speculation, the conservative morality of the church, which has always opposed the right to comprehensive sex education, the right to abortion, and the recognition of sexual dissidence, and a defense of the large mining and forestry companies, the large landowners:inside, who plunder natural resources at the expense of low wages and environmental destruction.

Behind this campaign are not only right-wing parties, but also important people from the christian democrats such as ximena rincon, matias walker or felipe harboe. The main business associations, led by juan sutil, president of the association of production and commerce, are also part of the rejection campaign.

In the camp of "apruebo" ("I agree"), however, is not just "the people" or "the social movements," as the narratives of reformism make it seem. The main parties of the former concertacion government coalition-the PPD ("party for democracy"), the DC (christian democrats) and the socialist party-joined in the "yes" vote to the constitution. "Apruebo dignidad" and socialismo democratico (the name of today's coalition, which is largely made up of ex-concertacion parties) are actually the two parts of the governing coalition today. The new constitution has also been endorsed by "progressive" entrepreneurs and international financial agencies.

It is thus an attempt by parts of the ruling class to initiate a new "transition period" in order to breathe new life into the ailing political regime by recognizing certain social rights. The goal is to co-opt the organizations of the workers:inside and the impoverished people and to restore the authority of the capitalist state. Analogous to the 1988 plebiscite, when the issue was pinochet's continuity in office, the new constitution represents another historical trap: the masses are to give their "consent" so that later, together with the right-wingers, a new "transitional pact" can be shaped, in which the demands and expectations of the working:inner class and the impoverished people will once again remain unresolved.

A large part of the population hopes that the new constitution will abolish the pinochet constitution. The new constitution recognizes a number of rights that have been denied for decades, such as z. B. Sexual and reproductive rights, the right to education, the right to adequate housing, recognition of domestic and care work, constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples, and an extensive catalog of other rights. The reason that the constitutional convention included these rights in the text of the constitution is because for decades people have been fighting for them in the streets.

However, while promising social rights, left reformism, together with the right, has maintained the entire economic legacy of the dictatorship, from privatization to the plundering of natural resources to the precarization of labor and the profiteering from education and health. But moreover, these promises collide with an economic and social crisis in which inflation is eating away at wages, in which life is increasingly insecure, and in which bankers:inside and entrepreneurs:inside continue to be the winners:inside.

Almost three years of mobilizations have passed and nothing has changed. Demands fought for in october 2019 failed to win: decent wages and dignified pensions; an end to waiting lists for free, quality health care; free public education for all, an end to debt from the government-guaranteed CAE education loan; an end to AFP and adequate pensions for our grandparents. Neither the freedom of the prisoners of the uprising nor the imprisonment of pinera and the unpunished murderers could be achieved. While reformism speaks of plurinationalism, the boric government is intensifying state violence with the militarization of the wallmapu (the historic settlement area of the indigenous mapuche), the militarization of the borders and border towns, and the eviction of street vendors in poor neighborhoods by the police.

Meanwhile in the youth, student:inside organizations like the confech, led by the frente amplio and the communist party, are distinguishing themselves as the government's mouthpiece. Instead of developing and strengthening the student movement, which was the catalyst for the rebellion, they prefer to accept crumbs such as the pitiful 4 percent increase in the BAES stipend.800 pesos (the equivalent of just over 5 euros). And this after thousands of students had demonstrated not only for this demand, but also against sexist violence, for the release of political prisoners or for the improvement of the infrastructure and generally against the crisis of the public education system. The youth who jumped the subway turnstiles to protest rising mass transit fares were not even allowed to do something as basic as vote and be elected. On the contrary, they were actively denied this, and today, in the face of their mobilizations, such as the "uprising", they are being criticized. B. The occupation of their high schools, suppressed by the government.

Neither the constitutional convention nor the boric government have taken structural measures to ensure that workers:inside do not have to pay for the costs of the crisis. For this reason, a significant portion of the working population has become disillusioned along the way. The new constitution does not and will not meet the demands that were fought for in october 2019. The "apruebo" bloc led by boric passivates the social movements and at the same time increasingly plays into the hands of the right and strengthens it.

The constitutional convention and the hatching of new plans behind the backs of the masses

We of the revolutionary workers' party (PTR) have been involved for decades in the struggle for the elimination of all legacies of the dictatorship and share the desire of millions of people to abolish pinochet's constitution. However, we believe that neither with this constitutional process nor with the boric government will we be able to achieve the demands of the october rebellion, let alone put an end to the privileges of a handful of capitalists, the structural inequalities and the misery of this system.

During the rebellion, we fought for the removal of pinera through the general strike and the establishment of a free and sovereign constituent assembly that would not be subordinate to the institutions of the old regime and would discuss and take up all the demands of the rebellion. We fought to build organs of self-organization of the working:inside class and impoverished people capable of confronting and defeating the capitalist powers-both economic and repressive-in order to win a workers:inside government.

We were among the tens of thousands who denounced the peace agreement and the new constitution as a pact behind the backs of the people to save pinera's skin, ensure impunity and establish a constitutional process full of traps so that in the end the capitalists and their politicians can determine which changes will be made and which will not. In the elections to the constitutional convention we supported the "list of revolutionary workers", which fought for a program of independence for the working class and carried out a broad agitation among the working class and the impoverished people.

We also denounced the fact that the constitutional convention completely subordinated itself to the previous constitutional bodies and distanced itself from the needs and urgencies of the impoverished people. We have experienced firsthand how the constitutional convention rejected the freedom of prisoners of the rebellion, as together with families and activists we initiated a popular initiative for the freedom of political prisoners, which was rejected in an overnight action. Far from being an achievement of the rebellion, as groups like the constituent social movements or maria rivera's movimiento internacional de trabajadores (LIT-CI) claim, the constitutional convention was one of the main mechanisms for demobilization. Neither the convention nor its members were instruments to strengthen the independent organization of the working class and sectors of the people, but to subordinate the street to the old constitutional powers – the same forces that today are already negotiating reforms with the right behind the scenes.

This policy of a convention far removed from the needs of the impoverished people and from the demands of the october uprising has contributed decisively to demoralizing millions of people and paving the way for the strengthening of the right and the extreme right, which, after their time in the political intensive care unit, are now once again helping to determine the politics of the day with their reactionary demands.

The new behind-the-scenes deal signed by the ruling parties, from the communist party to the former concertacion, is now aimed at appeasing the right and the big capitalists. It is this path that has strengthened the right and the extreme right. This way out was also opened to the right by those sectors that, before the constitutional convention began, had spoken of "surrounding the convention" and "not meeting as long as there are political prisoners," such as the constituent social movements or the CP itself. For when they were elected to the constitutional convention, they left aside these slogans and devoted themselves to a parliamentary-institutional practice, without using their positions to strengthen extra-parliamentary mobilization to confront the most reactionary and conservative sectors. And what to say about the trade union bureaucracy of the CUT, which fully submitted itself to parliamentary times without lifting a finger to seriously mobilize against the precarious conditions in which workers:inside spend their existence. Instead, it integrated itself more and more into the government and settled for a "historic" minimum wage, which has now already been eaten up by inflation.

Even after the ex-concertacion, the CP and the frente amplio concocted an agreement to "reform" in the event of a victory for the "yes" camp at the plebiscite, numerous organizations of the left and even those who call themselves "revolutionary" continue to call for "apruebo" ("approval" of the draft constitution). In doing so, they fully submit themselves to this agreement. They call to "defend" the apruebo, although it is already known that the draft constitution will then go to the hornet's nest of the senate, where all decisions will be negotiated with the rights and crowned a new "pact" that will be opposed to the interests of the impoverished people. These organizations are far from helping the working:inside class to gain experience on the way to an independent political position. Instead, they contribute to the subordination of the mass movement to the leadership of the center-left forces and the government – that is, to a policy of class collaboration with that sector of reformism that has co-managed the affairs of the capitalists for the last 30 years, and thus to the passivation of the movements.

For all these reasons, we do not support the constituent process, nor the new constitution, which will turn out to be a new historical fraud and will be completely subordinate to what the parties in the current congress establish. Am 4. September we will therefore vote invalid. As socialists, we will not vote for a constitution that creates new bases for the exploitation of the chilean capitalist state. This constitutional process is the dress with which the exploitation and oppression of capitalist and patriarchal chile is wrapped. Therefore, we fight for an alternative and a program of independence for the working:inside class and the impoverished sectors of the people.

For a program of the workers:inside and the impoverished people to enforce the october demands and make the capitalists:inside pay for the crisis

In light of this scenario, we must unite and organize all those who believe that the deepest causes of the rebellion have not been solved and that they will not be solved by the institutions of this regime. We will only conquer these rights by touching the interests of big capitalist:in and not by approving a pact behind the back of the people, negotiated with the traditional parties and this government.

The promises of the new constitution contradict the current economic and social crisis. We cannot expect the rights enshrined in the new constitution to become a reality if they are not realized through the struggle and organization of the working:inner class and impoverished people. Beginning with the demand for a financing plan that guarantees free, quality, non-sexist, universal and unrestricted access to public education without any subsidy to the private sector; for the immediate abolition of the CAE education credit system; for the abolition of waiting lists through the establishment of a unified health system financed by the state and by taxes on large estates; for a housing plan managed by workers:ins and housing committees to address the growing housing deficit. Abolish the AFP and introduce a solidarity-based distribution system administered by workers and pensioners, without which the "right to social security" is just empty talk. Likewise, we fight for the right to free, safe and free abortion in the public health system, equal pay for work of equal value, comprehensive sex education and the demands of women, which the right-wing camp in congress will try to curtail by concocting a new pact together with apruebo dignidad and the former concertacion.

This struggle must be accompanied by a program that focuses on the demands of the workers and the impoverished people, which are not resolved in the new constitution. The ruling class and its politicians want to divide the struggling sectors in these elections at a time when it is most urgent for the working class to fight for an emergency program of workers to make the crisis paid for by the capitalists. Because inflation is eating away at wages, rents and bills are rising and living conditions are becoming increasingly precarious. These are fundamental demands, such as a general and immediate increase in wages in line with food inflation, as well as a minimum wage and a minimum pension of the equivalent of 780 euros; the shortening of the working day and the division of working hours between workers and the unemployed, with no reduction in wages; the end of the inflation of basic services such as water, electricity and fuel, expropriating without compensation all basic services companies that speculate on prices, as has happened in the case of metrogas, and placing them under the management of the workers. We must also fight for the condemnation and punishment of all the forces involved in the repression, as well as the dissolution of the carabineros (chilean police).

To do this, the country's great fortunes must be touched – those fortunes that have been built up over these last 30 years by denying the needs of the impoverished people, by plundering the environment, health and education, or by expropriating the mapuche communities. In other words, nationalization of strategic resources such as copper or lithium under the management of workers:inside and communities. At the same time, fundamental measures must be taken to combat national dependence on imperialism, which today is exacerbated by devaluation against the dollar and inflation, through the nationalization of the banking system. At the same time, given the historic demands of the mapuche people, we must put an end to the militarization of the wallmapu, guarantee the return of the lands claimed by the communities, and ensure the right of self-determination of the indigenous peoples.

We fight for this program to unfold the mobilization and self-organization of the working:inside class and the impoverished sectors of the people, starting from a policy of independence of the working:inside class in the perspective of the struggle for a working:inside government. We socialists fight for the great levers of the economy to be socially owned and for the expropriation of the handful of families that today rule the country, so that these resources can be democratically managed by the working class and the communities, the great majority of the country.

This stands for us in the perspective of overcoming capitalism and transforming society on the basis of social ownership of the most important economic and productive resources, which today are in the hands of a handful of families who rule the country. These ruling groups have interests that are contrary to the majority: when it comes to getting rich, they do not hesitate to "sacrifice" regions through pollution; they do not hesitate to take land away from the mapuche while paying miserable salaries in the midst of inflation. Socialism means leaving this misery behind, and for this it does not require a "new social contract" with the capitalists, but to put the main centers of production and economic resources at the service of the whole of society, democratically managed by the workers. To fight for this society, in the perspective of a world without exploited and oppressed, means to oppose the great powers of the ruling class, their state, their repressive forces and to defeat them through a social revolution. That's why we need to build a party of the working:inner class rooted in the places of work and study. To this struggle we dedicate ourselves not only at the national level, but also at the international level as part of the trotskyist fraction for the reconstruction of the fourth international. A party that has victory written all over it and fights for the conquest of a workers:inside government that breaks with capitalism.