by Juan Rolando Monroy
The Chilean clientelism is rooted in the evolution of the country political system from 1831-1861. Clientelism was managed by a group of landowners, a conservative ruling class, which created an authoritarian system, without interferences of military caudillos. From 1861 to 1925, we can distinguish an ideological division in the landowner rulers. There were political disputes between Liberal and Conservatives, with exclusion of the middle class. A Civil War in 1891, finally, ended with a triumph of the Conservatives, which transformed the clientelism in a powerful instrument to control the Chilean society, until 1918, when Liberal’s ideals were reactivated, influenced by the social and political changes of the WWI. In this period of the Chilean political and social history, the perception of the clientelism changed with the emergency of the middle stratus and labour movement, both became relevant introducing radical changes in the Chilean institutions, it was a reformist movement to transform the conservative society into a democratic model, possible, USA type with the approval of the popular Constitution of 1925.
From 1925 to 1970, we can say, that so called clientelism, was influenced by new political parties, the liberal tendencies were engrossed by Socialist, Communist, Nationalist and Falangist, all of them, reflected the social aspirations of the middle and labours. The Chilean democracy succeeded using clientelism and elected the candidate of the Popular Front, Pedro Aguirre Cerda in 1938, who was one of the first authentic social Chilean reformers of the 20th century. With the Chilean Popular Front the clientelism was under control of the middle class, artisans, the industrial working class in Santiago, Valparaiso, Concepcion, and in the mining provinces in the Atacama Desert. From 1940’s until 1973 the Chilean’s economy, was re-orienated to a model of substitute imports, creating light and heavy industries with support of the State Bank of Chile, Central Bank, and CORFO, (National Corporation for Economic Development), three important pillars of the Chilean successful capitalism of this period.
Politically, from 1940’s onward the Chilean clientelism was orientated to toward new political alliances, between, the middle stratus and the labour movement. The ultra-conservative groups, were politically isolated and from 1958 to 1973, they were unable to be elected as a majority government, impeded by a democratic electoral system of proportional representation. The election of President Salvador Allende in September 4th 1970, was a culmination of three decades of political alliances of middle and working class movement, and in a real democracy in 1970, clientelism was transformed in a powerful social transformation of the Chilean society, a new social experience, in which for the first time in the Chilean history the labour movement in alliance with the middle class and liberals introduced transcendental economic and social reforms. i.e. the Nationalisation of the Chilean Copper and the creation of CODELCO, the Agrarian Reform, to rationalise the agro-production, a national programme to provide houses to the lower-income people, to provide to all children in primary school with free milk. The Government of the Popular United, was elected to improve the standard of living of the Chilean middle and working class, to modernise the country-infrastructure, education and health, etc. During the three years of the Government of President Salvador Allende (1970), clientelism was transformed into a real constructive social force aiming to create a social and authentic political democracy. Unfortunately, this social democracy was eclipsed by Pinochet’s Coup d’ Etat (1973).
Part 1: Chilean Political Clientelism.
As I said before clientelism in Chile was transformed in a popular movement with participation of the petit bourgeoisie, intellectuals, professionals, small and medium merchants and traders. The Chilean White Collars movement was well organised, and constituted an important social factor to increase the massive participation of the lower income people in political process to democratised the traditional rural society. The Trade Union Movement constituted a social pillar to sustained the aspirations of the labours and the middle-class movement for free education and health and to get a sustainable work to preserve the family stability. The Chilean Trade Union Movement was a national conglomerate of thousands of Labour and White Collars Unions, a unique social experience, well discipline and organise with a national consciousness to defend the State’s natural reserves, the sovereign and the dignity of the Chilean nation.
A brief analysis of the Trade Union Movement, explained how important were the trade unions for the working people and how they were able to influence the evolution of the Chilean political parties, which, where receptive to respond and to transform them into an avalanche of reformist tendencies, liberal, radical or revolutionary. An interesting aspect of the genesis of the Chilean popular movement was the presence and participation of the white-collar trade unions which was organise in parallel to the labours, a simultaneously, social phenomenon which was exclusive of the Chilean popular movement in Latin America.
The Chilean Trade Union Movement developed without serious interferences, from 1938 to 1973, three decades in which, the Unions, engrossed and enriched the popular movement. Politically, the Unions were aligned with the tendencies of the centre left, rather than to the centre right: Socialist, Liberal, Falangist and Radcall were the political parties disputing the leadership of hundred of Workers Union and Workers Confederations. The only political interference in the Trade Union Movement, occurred in 1947, when President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla (Radical Party, 1946-52, elected with the support of the CCP), declared illegal the Chilean Communist Party and expelled the Soviet Ambassador. President Videla was one of the first Head of State in Latin America, aligned to USA in the first years of the Cold War Era. However, this anomaly situation, did not affected the massive trade union movement. The Unions, continued actives in the public services and in the State industries, under the leadership of Socialist, Falangist or Radicals, i.e Endesa (National Enterprise of Electricity), Steel melting industries, Paipote, in the Province of Copiapo and Huachipato, in region of Concepcion. At the same time, the nitrate, copper and coal miners were defending its salaries against the government economic cutting measure to control the inflation and frozen their labour’s incomes via lower pay by hours of work. This vast working movement represented three quarter of the Chilean labour population, undoubtedly, was crucial for any electoral campaign, and transformed the Chilean Congress in a scenario where, the legality of the social and popular movement received a majority consent to evolve freely of any political interference. The Chilean labour movement will be unstoppable social force, and interesting historical fact is that, the Chilean Trade Union was re-founded in 1952 by white collar leader Clotario Blest, who was at the same time President of the National Association of Chilean Fiscal Employee (ANEF), and of the Chilean Single Central Union (CUT).
Part 2: Chilean Political Clientelism, 1970-2013
The problem to be resolved by historian and sociologist is to find answers to the question: What happens with the Chilean clientelism after 11th September’ s 1973 when General Augusto Pinochet assaulted the Presidential Palace of elected President Salvador Allende and closed the Chilean Congress?
The crucial fact was that the Chilean Society was one of the most stable and democratic societies in the Western Hemisphere, with a solid social structure, integrated by a professional middle class, a liberal entrepreneurial bourgeoisie and a industrial working class. An important social group were the miners in the Northern provinces of the Atacama Desert, working in the nitrate and copper mines, these were the two principal raw materials for export and were under the exploitation of USA companies. The Chilean proletariat also grew by the economic stimulus created by the model of import substitution, in the provinces of Concepcion, Valparaiso and Santiago, where numerous light and heavy industries were established by Chilean capitalist. Other important element who gave originality to the Chilean capitalist model was that from 1939 to 1973 all governments, implemented a protectionist policies with the intention to protect and to foment the national productivity, moreover to develop the Chilean industrial and financial sectors. On the other hand, for 40 years the country’s economic evolution was fomented by the elected governments. In the first place, their ideas were to diversify the economy to produce manufacture and commodities for an expanding internal market without interferences of the foreign capital. What is more, the ruling political parties of this period, were Centre Left or Centre Right, as occurred with the Liberal President Jorge Alessandri (1958-64), who opted to maintain the principles of a Chilean sustainable economy. However, the truth was that it was practically impossible with the Popular Constitution of 1925, to reverse the Chilean economy to a neon-liberal type as Pinochet’s regimen will be doing it years later.
The crucial momentum for the Chilean economy and the popular clientelism was when Pinochet’s regimen forbidden all political activities. The first measure of the new regimen was to create a cerco of forces with the army to intimidate the population, to punish with prison and dead all types of political ideals or personal ambitions for a possible political competition, i.e. the case of President Eduardo Frei Montalva, Social – Christian, who ‘s mysterious death in a hospital is today under investigation. The many thousands of cases of abuse of Human Rights, is even today after 40 years a matter of international attention, in the UN and others worldwide institution related to the human liberties.
The regimen of Pinochet under the advised of a group of extreme right academic and members of the Chilean oligarchy, finally, succeeded in imposing their totalitarian ideas and philosophy of a new economy for Chile, this model was introduced in 1975-76, under the guide of the USA economic pattern to transform Chile in a new economic experiment, to be a model for many under – and develop nations in Europe, Africa and Asia. The Chilean Neon-Liberalism was created under the sacred principles of the free market economy, and the 40 years of the Chilean national capitalism was definitive buried in a ground where thousands of white collars, professional and labour workers disappeared for the labour market, under the new regulations and principles that there is none law that can regulate or control the people who manipulate the market for their own benefits. Democratic Chile, changed to a new society which is ruled by a group of plutocrats and bankers all of them with families and financial connections, and so far away of the real social necessities of the Chilean people.
Part 3: The Chilean political evolution, pre – Pinochet Years.
The Chilean political evolution is full of social contradictions, between the ruling parties, always identified with the rural landowners, who created the juridical and institutional bases of the nation since the Independence in the 19 century. The Chilean society was structured modelling a feudal rural economy, and during the 19th century, did not change at all, preserving the Spanish colonial social and political values, it is not until the advent of the European modernism of the post WWI, when the Chilean social class structure, started a slow change in the conformation and origins of new political parties. This phenomenon, is of particular interest for any historical and sociological analysis of the conservative Chilean society of the 19 & 20 centuries.
In the case of the ruling class, in Chile, it was a small group of powerful landholders ruling all the country with and old patriarchal system “as though it were but a great hacienda”, and the common people were excluded from any social and political aspirations, until the 1920’s, when an awakening of the social consciousness emerged in the political scenario, with the leadership of Liberal groups, which with the support of some liberal colonels, favoured the mobilisation of the Liberals and Radicals to introduce reforms in the oligarchy Chilean democracy, and consulting for the first time, to the electors to approve the modern Constitution of 1925, under the Presidency of Arturo Alessandri Palma, a descendent of Italian emigrants. From this momentum, Chile, started its democratic evolution, which, slowly, served the social objectives of the reformist middle classes, now better intellectually prepared to dispute the power to the ancient landholders, during all this period, the political disputes were how to create a majority in the Congress, Lower and Senate to encapsulate the parties of the old conservative regimen. From 1920 to 1930, two political parties played leadership roles to confront the Conservatives, Liberal and Radical in this first stage, introduced important social and legislatives reforms to favour the working classes and the less income people. The professional middle classes took leader position to create electoral alliances with the proletariat movement, communist and socialists of all tendencies. An interesting phenomenon is this second political anarchy of Chile, between 1924-1931, was the activist role of the officer of the Chilean army, which succeeded in mobilising as a political force to support the Constitutional reforms of the Liberals. Later under the leadership of Colonel Carlos Ibanez del Campo (1927-1931), the army officers represent an interesting new social mobility of the Chilean society, which propitiated a new democratic constitution and impulsed important reforms in education, health and labour relations. It was precisely, Colonel Ibanez, who, started in 1928 a radical reform in the Chilean education, an exceptional political attitude which, permitted to increase the numbers of the primary and secondary student populations, more the six hundred of rural school were built to combat the illiterate problem, which in 1930 was about 25% in a country population of approximately of four million habitants. In addition, this phenomenon of improving the standard and scholar infrastructure in the Chilean educational system, was unstoppable, and continuing throughout the decades, with the political conception, that all the Chilean political parties, from 1930 to 1970’s, with the exception of a minority of landholders, would participate in expanding the education for the middle, rural and industrial proletariats. The belief in the social responsibility of the State and the Constitution to provide free public education to all citizens, was incorporated to the electoral programmes of Radical, Socialist, Communist, Nationalist, Labour Agrarian and National Falangist.
Part 4: The Chilean clientelism
The Chilean political stability, was conditioned by social conflicts, which were sparkled by the resistance of the old regimen of the landholders, to make concessions to the new intellectuals middle classes and to the industrial labour movement, between 1932 to 1938, the coalition of Liberal and Conservatives, were constantly, pushed to introduced reforms to continue with the principles of an economy guided by the J.M. Keynes’s ideas which have been successfully implemented in USA by President Theodore W. Roosevelt. Step by step, the Chilean economy was ending with the liberal principles of the laissez-faire, and under the enthusiasm of brilliant academics from the University of Chile, all of them, active politicians and elected members of the Lower Chamber, promoted the New Deals as a solution to the Chilean urgent social problems, created by the effects of the depression of the Capitalist system in America and in Europe. The paralysis of the mining productivity, because of the restriction of the international demands of raw materials, especially copper and nitrate from USA, affected these industries, and increasing were inflation and the unemployed. Chile was totally dependable of these two commodities, unable to find a rational and technical solution to balance the national economy, opted for planning several measures to alleviate the suffering of a population punished by an international crisis. The Chilean political parties in the 1930’s decades, were motivated to assimilate the experiences occurred in Europe, in France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Russia, were the labours and social movements gained important electoral victories through the introduction of the Universal vote. In Chile, the Constitution of 1925, was inspired in the models of the Mexican Constitution (1917), Russian (1918 and the most important of all was the German Weimar Constitution of 1919. All of them with profound focus to guarantee social welfare to the nation. This new conception of the Constitutional Law, was incorporated as a political doctrine in all political parties, who advocated the universal right to vote and the legitimacy of the labours and human rights. This new Chilean Deals, incorporated almost all the social and economic doctrines to protect and to foment the economic activity through the private initiative and with the total involve of the State as an active motor of the economic progress of the Chilean nation. At the end of the 1930’s practically, the Chilean society was divided into two political blocks: Conservative/Liberal alliances, the powerful minority of landholders with a group of Liberal, with family connections with the oligarchy, and the new democratic forces, groups of professionals, academics, and petit bourgeoisie, members of the Radical Party, who were the intellectual intelligentsia, promoting a clear reformist programme for the Chilean traditional establishment, this contradiction, fortunately, was resolved pacifically, in the 1938 election, when political parties, communist, socialist, nationalist, National Falange and the supporters of General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, elected President to Pedro Aguirre Cerda, under the slogan of the first Popular Front in Latin America. A unique experience in which the Chilean politics was inclined definitive to become a social democracy, starting introducing small reforms in the tenant of the lands, new legislation to protect the miners and to recognise civic and labour rights to the women, in 1949, the Chilean women definitive was recognised its right to vote in all elections. In this period (1938-70), the function of the State was to assist the private initiative in agriculture, industries, to the medium and small enterprises, creating special funds or credits (Caja Agraria, Caja de Credito Minero e Industrial, etc), and in 1940’s with the creation of the Corporation for the Production and Development (CORFO).
Part 5: Chile builds its social democracy society
The real participation of the people, shall we say, labour and white collars classes, started in Chile, with the Presidency of Pedro Aguirre Cerda and the Popular Front in 1938-42, prolonged until 1952, with an interval of the illegality of the Chilean Communist (1947), during the Presidency of Radical Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, until 1957. when General Ibanez, abolished it. The Chilean political reformism is coincident with the WWII years a period in which the Chilean society changes completely. Firstly: Chile as many countries in Latin America, advocated for a semi economic independence from USA: Brazil, Argentina and Chile, were leading this autonomous tendency to create a national capitalism. Secondly, Chilean politics was under the influxes of President T. W. Roosevelt’s the New Deals, with the Keynesian ideas to transform the State in a productive machinery of the capitalist system. In the case of Chile, the Radical was the political party who followed the New Deal programme to transform Chile in an industrial country. Three Radical Presidents from 1938 to 1952, were enough to create a solid industrial infrastructure, which was inexistent in the 1930’s, i.e. in approximately 15 years the Chilean economy changed from an agrarian to an industrial – export mining economy. This transformation of the Chilean economy, altered the social classes relations, especially in the the cities and ports where the population increased, under the stimulus of the industrialisation, better salaries and social conditions. Chile, started with its first significative proletariat movement in a symbiosis with the mining, industrial and white collars.
On the other hand, the Chilean Radicalism, help to make of the middle classes an decisive electoral factor in the democratic elections, but at the same time, contributed to increasing numbers of the trade unions in the working class and in the white collars groups. The orientation of the Chilean politics, changes radically. i.e. the landholders were a minority group, but with ideological influence and political power in the Senate. The political initiatives to modernise the Chilean institution were taken by the alliances of the intellectual middle class and the labour movement, i.e. left Radical, Socialist, Communist and Falange, elected to the Lower Chamber of the Congress and Radicals, Socialists and a few Communists elected to the Senate, i.e. Salvador Allende was elected to the Senate in 1946, representing the mining provinces of Tarapaca and Antofagasta, Eduardo Frei, a National Falangist leader elected members of the Lower Chamber in 1941, etc. the Nobel Prize Pablo Neruda was elected Senator in 1946. However, the elections of a few socialist in the Chilean Senate, did not changes the oligarchy majority: Conservatives, Liberals and some Radicals, still identified with the ideas of the laissez-faire or with families links to the latifundia, all of them opposed to any alteration of the agrarian labour relations. This situation was maintained until the 1960’s, when President Jorge Alessandri Rodriguez (1958-64), following the instructions of the “Alliance for the Progress”, inspired by President J. F. Kennedy (1917-63), proclaimed a continental plan to eradicate the archaic Latin America Latifundia. Again, the Chilean government, was one of the first to proclaim an agrarian reforms or modernisation which was criticised by Socialist, left Radicals, Communist and Demo-cristisan (former National Falange), in the discussions about the Law to reform the Chilean Latifundia. These exploratory discussions to introduce reforms in the Chilean aggro-relations, undoubtedly, were indirectly, incentives by Kennedy’s democratic proposals, and a few years later were implemented to endorse radical legal reforms to transform the medieval Chilean Latifundia.
Part 6: Chile builds its social democracy: 1960-1970
Chile in the 1960’s and 1970’s decades was part of a continental social movement, which, attempted to transform the rural or traditional society into a modern – urban type. During these decades, defiantly Latin American society advanced from its rural transition to a semi industrial country. In this decade the domination of the financial and bourgeois elements, started to control the majority of the political parties, with exception of the socialist ideals. The rest of political organisations were contaminated and succumbed to the new emerging capitalism connected to international investments from USA, Britain, Germany, Switzerland or France. A slow penetration of the foreign capitals started in the Chilean domestic industries: pharmaceutical, food, tobacco, commodities, but more than 50% of the national industries were under the management of the Chilean capital, i.e. coal, electricity, exploitation of oil in the Patagonia, steel melting in Huachipato, (Concepcion-Province), one of the largest steel smelting plant’s at that time in South America, producing good quality steel for the local market, plus small quotes to be exported to neighbour countries. Even the Nitrate, and the medium producers of gold, silver and copper were owner by national proprietaries. At the same time, this dynamic and prosperous economic growth, was affected by internal social unbalances, caused amongst other factors by fiscal deficits, i.e. from the 1960’s onwards, the high expenditure to maintain active the Nitrates mining in the North, which provided employment to thousands of labours, manuals, professionals and white collars, were undoubtedly, a negative paralysis factor to move the national economy, and absorbing every year new fiscal revenues to capitalise an economic activity which was working with an antique technology to compete in the international market. However, several attempts were made by Presidents Carlos Ibanez del Campo (1952-58), Jorge Alessandri Rodriguez ( 1958-64), and Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964-70), to close down part of the industries. At he same time, serious discussion in the Congress divided the political parties from Conservatives to Socialists. Finally, the general consensus was to continue with the Nitrate industries, to avoid a major social catastrophe of a massive unemployment in the North of Chile. On the other hand, the social conditions of the middle and labours classes in Chile, were damaged by the inflation, lower salaries and higher cost of standard of living, the increasing unemployment, the transhumance of poor rural people to the Santiago, created a crucial momentum of social discontent, which were not interpreted by the governments. On the contrary, the authorities, were unable to introduce social reforms or to improve the social welfare created during the Popular Front and the Radical governments in the past decades. Finally, during the the government of President Eduardo Frei Montalva, several industries were closed down, a gradual disintegration of the nitrate economy created serious social conflicts in the north provinces of Chile, the glorious mineral, started to be replaced by an increase demand of the copper, which was until 1969 owner by USA companies. In conclusion, during Frei’s government the Nitrate Era politically ended and to be revived only for three glorious years by the government of President Salvador Allende, who with his paternalism and a nationalistic vision tried to inject new management, technology and capital to this ancient industry of the steam revolution. The sad finale of the Nitrate Industry occurred during Pinochet’s Years, when he dismantled and auctioneered it to the international investors. Next chapter of the economic and social history of Chile will be connected to the up and down of the international price of copper in the London market.
Part 7: Progressive social changes, 1960’s decade: Eduardo Frei years.
The decades of the 1960′ s and 1970’s, as we know, were crucial for the political stability in almost all the Latin American countries. In Chile, the first Cristian Democrat President Eduardo Frei was elected in 1964, with the support of the conservative landholders with a majority of 51% of the national votes. The Conservatives, decided to support Frei, to avoid the election of the Socialist candidate Salvador Allende, who needed to wait six year more to be elected President on September 1970. Who was Eduardo Frei? One of the founder father’s of the national Falange in 1937, he was part of a group of professionals, lawyers, from the Catholic University in Santiago, scholars and followers of the Vatican’s social encyclicals, members of the Conservative Party Youth, who disagreed, with the ultra-right party. They proclaimed the necessity to introduce social and economic reforms, especially in the agro – labour relations, i.e. to end the colonial institution of the “inquilinaje”, a feudal system which in the 1960’s still was legally accepted in the Central Valley latifundia , where the worker did not received salary, he needed to work free for his landlord a few days of the week in return of a lease of an small piece of land with his “ranchito”, a petit house without electricity and hygienic services and for him and his family. Education was minimum in the latifundia, some of a few landholders, permitted primary public schools inside their territorial dominiums. Frei’s government, introduced again a second project for a Chilean Agrarian Reform in the Congress, which was obviously, opposed by the votes of the Liberal-Conservatives, some right radical, but approved by majority vote in both chambers by an alliance of Demo-Christian, Socialist, Communist and a fraction of the Radical Party.
This political entente at the end of the 1960’s also accelerated the mass mobilisation of largest sector of the population, which were more active and consciousness to vote and to participate in politics. A new era of mass mobilisation was emerging and under the legal incentives of Frei’s government, the marginalised were organised in Educative Centres, with the idea to create local governments supporting the Christian Democratic Party programme of Revolution in Liberty, unfortunately, this programme of social democracy, was unfinished because of the political rivalries between groups and political parties of the Chilean left, the competition, to gain the popular votes of the masses, principally in the Universities, Trade Unions, Municipalities elections, disturbed the principal focus of Frei’ s programme, and the economy, again, which was controlled by the exports of the copper, and the restrictions of the national productivity, in the industrial sector, impulsed a new social discontent in the trade union movement (CUT), which was controlled by the Communist Party and Socialist too. New political intrigues by the Conservatives/Liberal and Radical, created serious problems of governability to his six years period. The so called well inspired Revolution in Liberty, ended in frustration even amongst its members and leaders, motivating a crucial ideological division, between two oppose groups, the left Demo-Christian, finally separated from the party to constitute a separate political entity, radical and with more similitudes to the ideals of Castro’s Cuban Revolution.
Part 8: Allende’s pacific revolution, 1970-73
The election of President Salvador Allende in September 1970 by a relative majority, against Radomiro Tomic (Christian Democratic Party) and the old Liberal Jorge Alessandri, constituted a crucial momentum for the Chilean 20th century political evolution. Later in November, as we know, the Congress, accordingly to the 1925 Constitution confirmed Allende’s electoral victory, and proclaimed him as a Constitutional President of the Republic of Chile. Which were the political repercussions of his electoral victory, over the two opposed ideological contenders, Liberal-Conservatives and Christian Democrats? Both conglomerates were defeated in a popular election to gain the support of the middle and popular classes.
On the other hand, Allende’s victory also surprised even his own political supporters, i.e. Communist, Socialist, Radical and small groups of independents – who were for the first time in the Chilean and Latin American History – the winners, and therefore, to be rulers and to put in practice crucial social and economic reforms, to complete the cycle of modernisation starting with the Constitution of 1925 and continuing in the following decades. Paradoxically, Chile already was a unique case of a democratic model in Latin America. As we have seen, the Chilean political system created during the 1930s and 1940’s, introduced important of social changes which, obviously, induced the masses to a major political participation in the representative institutions, i.e. National Congress and local Governments or Municipalities, were socialists and communists gained advanced leading positions, alongside demo-cristians, nationalists and Radical left. In addition, the democratic electoral system helped to educate the masses, to awaking its consciousness in a slowed civic process learning how to use the vote to improved its labours relations and to be represented by the trade union movement. Practically in the 1970’s almost all the main political parties, even the Liberals and Radicals, putted attention to the social problems, proclaiming the principles of an equal society. However the Social-Cristianism, was a serious contender to Socialist and Communist programmes to reforms the Chilean Society. The former proclaimed a new rural labour relations and to end with the latifundia, plus a semi nationalisation of the Chilean copper and natural resources, while the latter, agreed in this two economic and social topics, but with more emphasis in accelerated the process of the Chilean economic independence of the foreign capital. In short, both political positions, were coincident in a patriotic attitude to defend the economy and to impulse social reforms to make the popular and lower middle classes more participative of the country’s democratic institutions. These radical reformism, obviously, attempted to the landholders’s feudal system of the Latifundia, a conservative landholder minority of the Central Valley, a discontent group, who until 1970 was neutralized by the avalanche of popular voters in all national elections. In the practise, the Popular Unite and the Christian Democratic Party were the main political forces and from 1970 to 1973 both ideological currents, created in the Congress interesting discussion how to introduce social and economic reforms to modernise the country and about the Popular Unity’s programme of 40th economic reforms.
However, in 1971, President Salvador Allende’s political talent succeeded in receiving the total support of the Congress to Nationalised the Chilean Copper, called at that time: the “Salary of Chile”. Allende’ s Nationalisation of the Chilean rich Copper Mines, was the first step to build a national economy with independence from the gigantic multinationals. In the following two years, his government, will be attacked by exogenous factors, which at the end affected his altruistic and patriotic intentions.
Allende’s three years 1970 and 1973 were crucial for its honest intentions to change the Chilean society and economy, his political advisers, were inclined to accelerate the process of social reforms. President Allende’s policies to create a socialist economy under control and direction of Ministers and planning departments, were faced with strong resistance from the Cristian -Democratic Party’s leaders in the Congress. The electoral reality was that in three years, the Popular Unity, gained more civic support, advancing to compete equal with the Christian Democratic Party and the Conservative coalition of Liberal and National Party (former Conservative Traditionalist). To understand the Congressional conspiracy against Allende’s government, is necessary to come back to the 1960’s decade, when the Chilean political spectrum changed completely, after the elections of President Eduardo Frei Montalva, who was elected in 1964, with the support of the Conservative Party to avoided the triumph of the Candidate Salvador Allende in his 3rd Presidential campaign with the support of coalition Popular Action Front (Frente de Accion Popular). Frei’s six years government, was involved in a constant political dilemma, firstly introducing popular reforms to calm the masses aspirations, i.e the poor income labours and working classes in Santiago, Concepcion, Valparaiso and in the North and Southern provinces. Paradoxically, the electoral support of the Christian Democratic Party, were precisely, the voters of the middle and working stratus of the Chilean society, both social sectors, were conscious in claiming better salaries and status, in a society, which in the 1960’s emerged from its structural dualism: to over became from an agrarian to an urban society, the modernism, finally, superseded the traditional society dominated by the latifundia. In 1963 a year before Frei’s ended his Presidential period, his government, approved the Agrarian Reforms, with the support in the Congress of Socialists, Communists, Radicals and Nationalists or ex-Agrarian Labours. The Chilean Agrarian Reforms’s is undoubtedly, an important fact, which, definitive, separate for a short period the Christian Democratic Party from the small and powerful Conservative oligarchy. From 1972 to September 1973, the Christian Democratic Party, will create a block of resistance to President Allende’s economic measures to expand the area of social economy of the Chilean State, on the other hand, the popular masses, organised in the trade union movement, and in the inhabitants associations, in the marginal urban sectors in Santiago and others industrial cities, were the main popular support and the social pressure to the Allende’ s government to continue to comply with its programme of economic and social reforms. Allende’s proclaimed that his government was a Revolution in a Chilean style, saying loudly to his international admirers that he will overcome to transform the Chilean capitalism into a Socialist economy with a national revolution with “Vino Tinto and Empanada”, meaning that the Chilean Socialism will be a “pacific transition”, preserving the formalities of a representative democracy, and with the support of the votes of the majority of the Chilean people. In fact, in the last Parliamentarian elections in March 1973 Allende’s coalition Popular Unity, increased its national votes from 33% approximately to 47%, a considerably electoral victory, which, obviously, awaken the discomfort and bitterness of the Christian Democratic Party and obviously, fearless and fury of the Conservative minority. This election proved Allende’s doctrine that the pacific Chilean road to Socialism could be a reality if the electoral masses continued supporting his democratic aspirations to build a new Chilean economy and society for the 20th century.
After March 1973 Parliament elections, President Allende’s intention was to get a political agreement with the Christian Democratic Party, under the Presidency of Senator Patricio Aylwin and its leader Eduardo Frei. This crucial political momentum was unfortunately, a false alarm to calm the ferocity opposition of this political entity, which also was discomforted with the electoral favourably result to the Popular Unity. The political climate in the first six months of 1973 were of desperation for President Allende, to control the furious opposition and to calm the social discontent. In 1972 the Militaries entered to Allende’s government. Allende’s honest belief in the Republican and civil traditions of the Chilean arms forces were very strong. However, he did not realized that, in almost all the Latin American armies, navies and air forces, the USA intelligences were the main military advisers. The Chilean army was a Republican institution, with some prestige, a national reference of rectitude and obedience to the civil governments. With two exceptions in the Chilean history i.e. the army took part in political disputes, during the rivalries between Liberals and Conservatives, during the Government of President Manuel Balmaceda in 1891, when finally the loyal troops was defeated by the the revolutionary forces controlled by the conservative landed gentry. Another, interesting episode of the Chilean myths of the loyalty of the arms forces to the elected governments, were a successive discontent inside the institution from 1912 to 1919, a period which was coincident with the a demographics phenomena of the growth of the Chilean territory and its population. The Chilean army was modernised under the Prussian model and at the end of the WWI, the arms forces, were obliged to stayed in permanent alert for conflict with neighbor countries, especially with Peru in the North and with Argentina in the Southern part of Patagonia and disputes south of Magellan’s Stretch. In 1919, a conspiracy against Conservative President Juan Luis Sanfuentes, finally collapsed because of internal disputes, finally, the government, controlled the situation. In 1920 the Chilean arms forces were practically under the constitutional law and civil obedience, however the presence of middle class officer in the military academics, Aviation and Army, started a social change and an awaken of professional aspirations of these institutions for modernisation of the Chilean society, dominated by feudal principles of the landholders, almost militants of the Conservative party and in controlled of the Parliamentary Republic. From 1925 to 31, the Chilean army emerged as a new political force, in disputing and proclaiming several social aspirations of the middle and the popular classes. An important military leader of this period is Colonel Carlos Ibanez del Campo, a leader and supporter of the liberal and radical political reforms, including the proclamation of the Constitution of 1925. As a curiosity reference, in 1952, now General Ibanez was elected President of Chile by absolute majority, in repudiation of the traditional parties, Liberal, Conservatives, and Radical-rights, his candidature, was supported by Socialists, and trade Unionists leaders, amongst them, was the Catholic Clotario Blest, who was the first President of the Chilean Worker Union (CUT). The Chilean navy, was conservative, for almost its officers were recruited in the upper Chilean class, a minority group of families associated to the latifundia. President Salvador Allende, was a man who believed in the democratic and political traditions, that the arms forces, were characterised by its loyalty, sensibility and obeyed to the democratic Constitution of 1925, a Magna Charter, which was proclaimed by the reformist political parties with the consent of the arm institutions, who since 1925 to 1970, proclaimed its own democratic doctrine.
Allende democratic elected government confronted a dilemma which was to transform the Chilean capitalism into a socialist economy, given to the people the real power of decision, in matters related to the social sovereign, i.e. the creation of new form of popular organisations, regulated by themselves, under the principle of a direct participation in labour decision, to administrate the national enterprises, the so called social sector of the Chilean economy. In other words, the main industrial conglomerates, the nationalised mines, in general the main resources of the economy. The national plan was to create an auto-controlled production by the workers themselves to increase the production of the strategic sectors of the economy, i.e. copper, coal, nitrate, oil and others commodities, sugar from beet, the fishing industries, anchovy factories in the north, central and south provinces, tinned foods, LNG national gas companies with its distributers, the national railways, the public transport in Santiago, plus the public services, the national airline (LAN-CHILE), one of the oldest in South America, etc. All of them were under mix management, with Executives designated by the government and in a collective board with participation of the workers democratic elected to participate in the planning decision of the company. The new social aspirations were to create an economic unit with an auto-control by the workers themselves in all the nationalised industries. In addition, the role of the State, was to be a dynamic and leading force in the production, distribution and regulation of the internal market. The rulers of the economy and the society were the working and middle classes including a minority of patriotic industrialist who supported Allende’s in principle to impulse the radical social & economic reforms of the Chilean society, which were legacies of an archaic social structure of the 19th century. This planning attempt to organise the Chilean society, was successful from one year. After December 1971, the climate of agitation against Allende’s government became more aggressive by the opposition who started a permanent boycott to paralyse the production, creating a climate of terror with the support of the media and private TV – a University Catholic Chanel, controlled by Nacional and the Christian Democratic Parties. The idea was to create a psychological war against the Popular Unity and to proclaim negatives ideas of the supplied and distribution of commodities for the market consumers. Finally, in desperation, Allende designated by the Constitution, two Military Minister to control the internal social orders and the distribution of merchandise and food to the population. Consequently, from this instant, the arms forces became involved in a political dispute between, a democratic elected government and a intransigent opposition of National and Christian Democratic Parties, both coincident to eradicated or eliminate if necessary by terror Allende ‘s Constitutional government. In the last months before 11th September, Chilean population lived in a campaign of terror, international alarm for the climate and the political instability, and the USA intervention in the Chilean political process, which, despite tremendous attacks from the ultra-right, with sabotages and conspiracies, the Chilean electoral process continued, with the incorporation of a massive population to support the government. Allende’s democratic government finally, ended in a tragic military intervention, the ultra-right forces, plus the consent of National and Christian Democratic Parties, using its familiar, economic and political contacts with the navy, air force and army, successfully, using a conspiracy, attacked the Presidential Palace, and started one of the most cruel and inhuman dictatorship in Latin America, a Military Junta under the Presidency of General Augusto Pinochet 1973-1990.
Part 9: Pinochet’s anti-intellectualism.
An interesting topic of the Chilean Military Junta – yet not complete known, is the hate and ferocity of the new rulers against the academia intelligentsia: the intellectual argument used by the Military Junta to attack the Allende’s government, was that ”the Chileans were poisoned by a foreign doctrine, this ideology was as an incurable cancer for the people”. Air Force General Gustavo Leigh, repeated this phraseology several times in television and radio. This false argument obviously, is a demonstration of the poor intellectual argument to justify an illegal action to the Chilean people. It is clear that from 1973 to 1980, the Military Junta, acted by instinct rather than by a rational programme of actions, their inexperience in politics were unable to provide public management, forced them for quickest recruitments and assistance from think thanks from the ultra-rights groups inside the National, Radical and Christian Democratic Parties. This incapacity of the military leaders to innovate or to create a new institutional order with a legal frame, leave the country under a permanent military occupation, using the repression to contain the popular upraises. The immediate close of the Congress and the forbidden of the political parties ended a centennial democratic tradition transforming Chile in a military camp, where nobody was secure for its ideas or professional activities. One of the first democratic institution to be military intervened were the Universities. At that time, the higher learning system, was formed by two State Universities: Universities of Chile, founded in 1842 and State Technical University (1949), the University of Concepcion (1919), semi-public and the private Catholic University in Santiago (1889), with a brach in Valparaiso. In Antofagasta, during the 1960’s, was founded the private North Catholic University. During the first months of the dictatorship, from September to December 1973, more than five thousand of academics, and administrative personal were expelled from the Public Universities, including Concepcion Valparaiso and Catholic Antofagasta, without any commiseration and legality. The academics were accused of poisoning the mind of the students and teaching politics rather than social sciences of philosophy. Any discipline became suspicious, specially psychology or history. Some departments and careers were closed, i.e. the Faculty of Education and Philosophy, in the University of Chile, was several punished and practically all its academic staff were exonerated and obligated to take protection in European Embassies in Santiago. Same cases of repression were repeated in all the higher learning colleges from Arica in the North to the Southern region of Magellan’s. The Chilean Universities prestiges high learning institution, comparable in standard to some of the best in USA or in Europe, were diminished and practically destroyed their academics traditions in teaching, researching and its social compromise with the community was prohibited at all. Some cases of military or neo-fascism intervention in the Chilean Universities from 11th September to December 1973, should be more investigated, to discover the sinister plans to dismantle the best Universities in South America, i.e. in the case of the University of Chile, in March 1973, the institution, passed by a process of academic and administrative reforms, following the patterns and legacies of the Latin American Student Movement of the University of Cordoba in Argentina, in 1919, which stablished the principles of the Co-government, the Academic Freedom, the University Autonomy and the Social and Cultural Missions of the Latin American University with the nation. These were the democratic commandments which were taken by generations of the student movements from Mexico to Patagonia. In Chile the University reforms, was coincident with the election of President Allende in 1973.
Why the authoritarian Military Junta dismantling the Chilean National Education System? and Why use punitive actions to expel a large number of primary and secondary teachers from the public education? The military mentality was unable to think that without a sane and organized education, any political project failed. Practically, during the first months of the Coupe d’ Etait, shall we say, from September to December 1973, thousands of primary, secondary teachers and academics were expelled from the classrooms, arrested or taken to concentration camps, specially built to receive prisoners from the cities, towns and villages of the country, i.e. one of them, was the ghost port of “Pisagua” in Tarapaca Province, were hundreds of prisoners were massacred , a tragic story today well documented by the international media. Another, example of the three months of terror for the Chilean population, was the erection of selective camps for political prisoners. i.e. Dawson Island, Southern of the country, were temperatures were below zero and isolated from the continent, was transformed in an special camp for leaders of the Popular Unity. These prisoners were under custody of the Chilean navy. In contrast with the siberian climate of the South, the military, selected in mid of the Atacama Desert, an abandoned phantom nitrate mine called “Chacabuco”, were thousands of political prisoners were transported by the navy to the port of Antofagasta, and then taken by the army lorries to the desert prison which was completed encircled with explosive mines, vigilant towers and electric wires. The social origins of the prisoners in Pisagua and Chacabuco’s, were professionals, industrial workers, community leaders and in general any person who was identified as sympathiser or supporter of the Allende’s democratic socialism. A recent study of the list of prisoners, revealed that a high percentage of them were teachers and academics. In some cities, practically, almost all the academics staff was sent to the prisoner camp, occurred in the port of Iquique, where the General in charge of the Army VI Division, practically, left the schools and the University College without staffs, teachers and lecturers, all of them accused of conspiracy or to be implicated in the Allende’s government. In short, the Chilean education was affected not by Allende’s intentions to expand the system, basically, to provide more places in primary, secondary and in the Higher Education to the youngest of the middle and working class origin. In substance, Allende’s in education, proposed a democratisation which involved the participation of the community, the teachers and the authorities. On other worlds, the Popular Unity, as far as in education is concerned was a continuation of the previous reforms established by President Frei in 1964-70, to impulse new technological career and educational opportunities to the people, following the tradition to make education free and a serious responsibility of the State. On the contrary, the Military Junta wrongly, repressed a valuable manpower, which, for a half century had been contributing to the intellectual, technical and professional development of the nation. Even, the secondary Chilean education, was an essential requisite to postulate to any military career and to entry to the militaries academies. The false perception or ignorance of the high commands of the strategic importance of the education for the progress of the country, impulsed them to consider the educational Chilean institutions as their own enemies, focusing their hate and forces to close down and to punish the country’s intelligentsia. In the following years, the advisers to the Military Junta, introduced a total reform of the public education system, a sort of mercantilism, in parallel to the economic ideas of the Chicago Boys, to transform Chile in a new neo-liberal economy.
Part 10: Milton Friedman and Chile’s Neoliberal experiment
Chile internationally is mentioned, as a successful economic experiment in Latin America. Even more, the Chilean transition from a dictatorship to a democratic society is known as a unique political case. An example to be followed by others with similar political experiences in Latin America and around the world. In the first place, the Chilean transition, looked as a normal process, i.e. the society was ruled by political parties theoretically representing the electors. The Congress and Government were working normally, even statistically Chile GDP was growing year by year, connected to the highest international price of the cooper. Apart of the bumming mining sector, the agriculture was improving its exports to markets in Asia, Europe and USA. However, all this economic progress created by Pinochet’s regimen and continued by the “democratic transition” was a false illusion for more than five million of workers and public employee, excluded of the gigantic profit of the multinationals and the local capitalists, owners of industries, minings, transports, services, super-markets, banks, schools and universities, etc. How the democratic opposition adopted Pinochet’ s economic and theoretical thinking in matters related to Constitutional Law, Public Education, National Health and Social Security? Pinochet’s political impositions were an agreement in which the political parties rendered their own principles in return of freedom and benefits to be again in government. Paradoxically, the transition was a post Pinochet era under the umbrella of a representative democracy. A fallacy, which accepted ideological impositions of a capitalist medicine for the sick Chilean nation.
Pinochet’s ideals were structured by a group of scholars from the Catholic University Economic Department, better known the “Chicago Boys”, which in the mid 1950’s were working in theoretical monetary projects related to the Chilean economy at that time. All of them studied at the University of Chicago with Professor Milton Friedman (1912-2006), and with his Associated Professor Arnold Harberger. The “Chicago Boys” invited Milton Friedman to visit Chile in 1975, later in 1981, Friedman in his second visit to Santiago, openly declared its sympathy for the macroeconomics measured taken by the Military Junta and his clever disciples, who successfully, changed the Chilean economy from a Keynesian orientated to a completed free market, guided by Friedman’s monetarist school, and his principles of price theory and the floating exchange rates. Finally, the big boom of the economy free market experiment, occurred from 1981 to 1989, when Chile definitive was transformed in a neon-liberal country. Approximately, 104 enterprises (including banks), still under the State management, were adjudicated, sold or transferred to private national or international capitalist corporations. The liberalisation of the economy was second stab on the back to the Chilean sovereignty, approved by the multinational corporations in USA and Europe. Chile was a tropical island for the foreign investments, mainly in the mining sector which Pinochet’s privileged with zero tax to the multinational investors. However, the wrong economic administration of Pinochet’s years, caused more social problems to the population, high unemployment, lower salaries and inflation, this tendency continued for a decade. When the democratic transition took the government in 1990, continued with Pinochet’s institutional frame created by violence and imposed by terror using the intelligent services to make this economic experiment successfully for the international corporations. There for the Chilean education, was imposed following the monetarist patterns of Milton’s Friedman’s free market.
I will attempt to analysis how economy is conditioning the education system, with special focus in the case of Chile’s experiment of monetary policies implemented by a group of scholars disciples of the Nobel 1976 prize Professor Milton Friedman, and how Chile, was transformed in a social and mercantile laboratory, which changed the traditional and progressive perception of Keynesian’s theories to balance the Chilean economy, making it more democratic and participative by workers, employees, and citizens, and the active role of the State to managed the economy and education. How the theories of the Chicago monetarism implemented in Chile, ended with the democratic virtues of the Public Education.
Milton’s Friedman’s monetary theories and the free market were applied successfully, with financial and economic benefits for a select group of foreign and Chilean capitalists, on the contrary, with regard the public education, the Chilean people was the losers, because the imposition of the free market rules, favoured the creation of powerful entrepreneurs who under the favour of the monetary economy, successfully, transferred private capitals to the educational system and vice-versa, founding schools and colleges, to satisfied the demand of a free market. Following similar experiences in USA the governments, started policies of Vouchers, using the accumulation of capital, originated from the high price of the minerals, specially the cooper.
The accumulation of capital produced by the export of copper to the Asian market, especially from China, was a favorable bonanza for all the post Pinochet governments, to expand the private initiative in Education, and under a new educational law, dictated in 1980, under Pinochet’s regimen, the new political parties post Pinochet era, were unable to change the post dictatorship educational status quo, which, was almost controlled by groups of private investors, in detriment of the Public Education. The Chilean education was re-organised, under the principles of the free market, the traditional democratic schools were practically eliminated in the new free enterprise system, the Chilean education suffered a drastic change for the competition of the private education, which was financed by the tax payer, the education was transformed in a lucrative business for national and international corporations, some of them religious, others, only ruled by the commercial principle of making money.
Before this tragic period of the Chilean social and political history, it is relevant to say that almost all the Social Scientists and Economists, were motivated by the antagonism between the rural and the urban local societies, a contradiction which was unresolved for various centuries since the Independence in the earlier 19 century.
Historians, Sociologist and Economist in Latin America started in the 1940’s making their own questions about the social reality and its un-resolved problems, which affected the normal development of the Latin American society. The proximity to a super – develop economy in the north of the continent, and its relations of dominance to control the regional market from Mexico to the South, was a subject which became a serious topic to be studied by the Social Scientist at that time.
Economist and Sociologist were motivated to compare the industrial societies with the non-develop, to discover causes of the Hispano-American society contradictions, e.i. in the rural labour relations, in the large dominion of the landowners, in the creation a new working and middle classes, in countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay or Brasil. The effects of the implantation of a substitutional economy in favour of a real participation of the State in planning and productivity of strategic row materials, minerals, oil, gas and commodities. Population growth with rural emigration to the cities, and the mayor social demands of the popular classes for better social warfare and political participation. Neo-Liberalism, was oppose to any popular and democratic civic demands.
From 1960’s to 1970’s the Latin American sociologists and economists, were intellectually motivated to search for scientific answers to the dramatic social problems, and to analyse the endogenous and external factors who impeded the growth of the economy and the distribution of the national wealth.
In Chile after 1973, a new conception of economic management was implemented by Pinochet’s Military Junta. It was the first opportunity to introduce new extreme – liberals ideas which as we know, were taken from Milton Freeman’s monetarism conceptions, which were totally opposite to the Chilean economic evolution since 1925 onwards. More than 2000 State’s enterprises were privatised, with the fatal consequences, effecting the democratic institutional system, the public education and public health were diminished in favour of the foreign investments in these human activities.
Part 11: Chilean Education post-Pinochet
The collapse of the Chilean education was more intensive under the governments of the Democratic Coalition ( Demo-Christian, Socialist, Radical left and Democracy Political Party (PPD), because, all of them were unable to reform Pinochet’ s educational system. The democratic political parties were the inheritors of Pinochet’s institutions, guided by clientelism and personal ambitions, were encapsulated by an authoritarian system, which, paralysed any honest attempt to reforms the monetary economy, the Constitution and the Chilean unequal social structure. The population was during two decades, under financial restrictions, the labours classes received lower salaries, without any other option just to accept the new social and political order. However, this economic system, ruled by the principle of the free market, started to shows its first weakness, when thousands of secondary students, in 2006-8, started a national mobilisation requesting to the government to reform Pinochet’s Educational Law, the student movement propitiated an immediate educational reform, to end with the profitable school and colleges and to proclaim its support to a free public education for all. The secondary and university student movement, soon, received the support and solidarity of the Chilean Trade Union (CUT), plus, the National Teacher Union, the ANEF, the Chilean Civil Servant, The National Confederation of Copper Workers, and in general, the public opinion was inclined to reinstall the democratic education of the 1960 & 1970’s, which as we know, free and a social responsibility of the State. The question to ask: Is the present Chilean educational system, better than the previous decades of 1973?. The argument of the privatisation of the Chilean education, is supported by the political parties of the right , plus powerful financier groups who, sustained that if the economy is working at high productivity, it is better that the private sector controlled and managed the National Chilean Education, rather than by the State, as it was under the protection of the Constitution of 1925. The protection of the public education by the democratic Constitution of 1925, was undoubtedly, an important contributor to create a more equal society, to incentive the middle and working classes for free education for their families. On the other hand, this democratic educational system worked successfully for 45 years. In contrast, the free market economy-education propitiated by Pinochet’s advisers and continued by the Democratic Alliance (Concertacion), did not contribute to the social mobility, on the contrary, excluded a majority of the population to be educated in the liberal and technical professions, because the high prices of the careers, which are practically impossible to be financed by working and middle class students. On the other hand, the banks loans at 6% were extremely at high interest, creating a monstrous debt in thousands of modest families which were unable to be paid. Today the student and educational debt has been increased to millions of $USA dollars to be paid by at least by two generations. In conclusion, the free market education in Chile has failed to fulfil its social and educational objectives, which are to upgrade the level of education and to create the right profession and technical skills needed for a country, which main propaganda is to get the standard of living of an industrial nation by 2020. The challenge today is under scrutiny and as we know it depends on the price of the copper in the London metal market. Education in Chile will continue as an unresolved social problem, its solution, will depend of the honest intentions of the political rulers, or conversely, the majority voice of the people, will be expressed democratically to change it definitively.
Even today the so-called Neo-liberal economy, is the main obstacle to introduce democratic reforms in the public education, health, and social services. The reason is that the Chilean society is dominated by the principles of a free market economy, which is under control of a small group of privilege financiers, connected to the foreign investments. The role of the State is quasi-nule in an small economy, where it is necessary to diversify the economy and to give more participation to the citizens, introducing reforms in the present electoral system. Moreover, it is imperious to end with present Constitution, which was an invention by a small group of Pinochet advisers. Chile to defeat the Neo-Liberalism, should introduce a new Culture and conceptions of Liberties and Social Equality.
Part 12: Post-Pinochet regimen
Demo-Christian candidate Patricio Aylwin was elected President for the period: 1990-1996, initiating a singular post-Pinochet’s era in which the former Dictator was a designated Senator under his own Constitution of 1980 and also Head of the Chilean Arm forces. This unbelievable political characteristic of the Chilean democracy, will perdure for twenty three years, with little changes, avoiding the country introduced democratic reforms in its social, economic and Constitutional status. |
All of Post Pinochet’s political parties were renegades of their own principles, enchanted by the institutional tramp created by Pinochet’s Constitutional advisers and educational think tank, all of them, passionated followers of the economic principles and theories of Milton Friedman’s school of thinking. The Chilean population was subjugated by a commercial transformation, which crated a false illusion to the population to become rich with monetary credits and commercial facilities operating in a free small market economy dependable of the export of raw materials, a basic agriculture and with low educational standards. Why the political parties, specially the Democratic Coalition (Concertacion), missed their political mission to replace the statue-quo of eighteen years of Military Junta, by a real democracy? In general, all the political parties, negotiated a semi-democratic status-quo, to continue excluding the majority of the population from the National elections and to popular representations. The magic wand was the binomial system, which for twenty-four years to the same political class permitted to be re-elected from two blocks of tendencies. Electing privileges politicians, all of them, competing with themselves, without any chance for other political alternatives of renovation with new contenders. This will be the next political chapter of Chile political evolution to a real participative democracy.
The political argument of the parties of the right, is that the Binomial system, has been able to maintain stability in the Chilean society, in other words, political and economic prosperity. Is it false or true? The reality is that the Chilean society is struggling to survive, with millions of people with permanent social constraints, i.e. lower salaries, an invisible inflation, the cost of living is one of the most expensive in Latin America, the minimum salaries is approximately less than $USA 150 monthly, the public transport cost is two or more times higher than in Argentina, Venezuela or Peru. If we agreed that practically the public education is inexistent and that a quality education is only available for people who can afford it, we can imagine that the Chilean people is in a tremendous challenge to survive, to finance education for their children, to pay for the high interest for loans and credits in the retails and super-markets. At the same time, the Chilean middle class is practically in ruin, accumulating debts to pay the bank’s loan, which are credited by the government tax money. The circulation of the fiscal money is controlled by the private banking, for the Central Bank is a passive agency, unable to control the real circulation or accumulation of capitals in the private sector. Many corporations, with interests in commerce, industries, mining and finance, constitute a group of none more than ten families, with financial interests in the private Health and in the education systems. At the same time, the Chilean economy, in the last decades, has been reflecting the up and down of the global economy. The Chilean economy is connected via export of the Copper to the Asian and the emerging economies, this phenomenon has been a positive element, contributing to engross high revenues to the fiscal via royalty and taxes from the multinational corporations operating in the country in the mining sector. Conversely, this revenue is practically absorbed by the private sector and by the governments investments in infrastructure projects and in subsidies to the agriculture’s export to Europe or Far East. The paradox, is that the governments are reticent to recognise the necessity to change the course of the distribution of the income accumulation, given, preference to finance the social problems of the country. i.e. creating a massive habitat plans, reforming the Health and Education systems, to upgrade the salaries of the public employee, and creating a better professional salary for educators in primary, secondary and State Universities, etc. The continuing social protests in Santiago, Valparaiso, Concepcion and in the rest of the country, are real symptoms of a complex social reality. The mobilisation of masses of workers, white collars, students and common people, is a tangential proof that the economic and social experiment initiated by the Chicago Boys in the 1980’s and continue today, has become an unacceptable for the Chilean population, especially for the Chilean common people.
After 23 years of political complexities and fruitless efforts to re-modeled the economic and social system, created during the Pinochet regimen, the political parties distanced from the rigid economic model created in 1980’s. Today the Democratic Alliance and the Centre Left Coalition, have initiated a process of political revision of the past decades, in which, the people was just spectator, excluded from the decisions and from any civic entities. In this respect, we can ask a few preliminary questions: Will the political parties be capable to visualise a future in which, the social organisations will play an active role and extending the Constitutional liberties and human rights to guarantee a democratic connivence with the aboriginals and others minorities? Will the Chilean society be in the next decade more progressive, tolerant and conscious that it is imperative to introduce legislatives changes to end with the tax-benefits for the rich ? The economic prosperity is today a privilege for a group of plutocrats and financiers, obviously, this unequal statuo-quo will need to be reformed, to create social and economic benefits to the less income people, to the middle and labour classes with the aim to provide more qualified manpower, better professionals, and opportunities for all Chileans without differences of economic and social status. The future challenge for Chile as a development country is to create a modern and open society, maybe the first in Latin America, capable to harmonise the individual interests with a collective’s conscious, to create a Nation with social, economic, and political responsibilities to protect equally all its members. In other words, the challenge is to re-build a democratic society in Chile. This is a political duty with intellectual responsibility for the political parties, proclaiming a Social Contract, between the political rulers and the Nation’s people, to avoid a conflict which could be again another inauspicious human catastrophe for the history of the country.
Part 13: Chilean Political Clientelism, post Pinochet.
The last part of this essay is complex because is related to the restoration of the Chilean democracy after 17 years of Military dictatorship. How to analyse the Chilean clientelism without consider elemental social, economic and political factors who transformed the Chilean society? Who were the main political actors and what type of ideals were introduced in an attempt to conciliate the internal crisis of the Chilean society? Why was Chile, an small country in the Western Hemisphere so important, for the world public opinion, especially in Europe and in United States? The advent of the new Chilean democracy in the 1990’s and 2000″s decades, was a political process which developed contrary to any attempt to restore the Popular Constitution of 1925, or to continue with the classical economic model of import substitution of the previous decades.
On the other hand, after 17 years of dictatorship the State Economy disappeared, and it was controlled by a powerful new plutocracy, created in the process of privatisation of hundred State enterprises, these new ruling class, based their power in the possession of lands in Central Valley, finances and investments, new emergent plutocrats, who as we know, finally created a Chilean economy of free market and dependable of the up and down of the global economy. In 1989, practically, Chilean economy is totally under the flux and re-flux of the international world market, financially, with strong links with the multinational, operating in the mining sector, main resource for revenues to fiscal policies. The tendency was to offer the vast natural resources to the foreign capitals, and this immense capitalisation created by a false principle of the free market, was one of the economic factors who influenced and contaminated the political parties involved in the discussion about of the type of Chilean democracy which could be more acceptable for a liberal transition, which still is under a tragic criticismo by the groups of Socialist, Radicals and Social Christian, all of them participants in the negotiation to create a model of democracy which did not contradicted the economic principles of a Chilean neon-liberal economy. To sum up: Chilean popular democracy was changed by a dictatorship into an authoritarian regimen without elections, evolved in 1990, to a Chilean democracy controlled by the powerful economic groups created during the 17 years of Pinochet’s regimen. The question is how then, the population accepted this undemocratic political system for such a long period from 1989 until today? To respond this question is necessary to understand the previous years, in which, the extreme violence was used to intimate two generations of the voters. Military force was used against the labour movement, to intellectual elites and to professional middle class. Practically for 40 years have been an ideological domination, by terror, based in the tragic experience of thousands of citizens massacres, killed, tortured, prisoners, expelled from their jobs and exiled to save themselves from the savage domination. A very similar phenomenon in the 1930’s with Gestapo controlling of the German people civic life. This physic and psychological criminal war against the Chilean people, is the major obstacle for a free participation of the popular organisations in the discussion of the Chilean post Pinochet ‘s democracy. After four years of Pinochet’s dead, it had recently started an emergent popular movement, a free expression of the liberties to create institutions reflecting the real social and political demands of the Chilean people. The reorganisation of the trade union, the intentions to reform the Pinochet’s Constitution of the 1980’s, which was approved under menace, a legal instrument to create a false legality to preserve the financial and economic privileges of the powerful Chilean plutocracy and oligarchy landowners
Part 14: The Chilean Elections, 2014
The Chilean people soon will vote for the sixth Presidential election (mid November 2014), for the first time in 23 years, television, press and electronic-digital communications are discussing political and human problems of the Chilean society. An exiting process of criticism to the Chilean monetarism. The present and past administrations have become a daily polemic between the six candidates representing opinions from the right, centre-left and non parties- groups. Undoubtedly, it is an interesting and curious electoral phenomenon which is an indicator that politics again is becoming part of the daily life of the common people. The imposition of the neon-liberal system to the Chilean society four decades ago relegates to the un-consiousness, the fundamental rights of the normal citizens, creating an enormous abysm between rich and poor sectors of the population. The present electoral campaign will end in an elected government, who, whatever colours, will be facing a new political reality, which will be more demanding for a participative democracy.
Emeritus Professor Juan Rolando Monroy is Chairman of The Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Soceity (LACCS-UK). He is a former Professor of Sociology at the University of Chile and State Technical University (Santiago, Chile), ex-Professor of Sociology at the University Ricardo Palma and National University of Education, Master Programme (Lima, Peru). Founder and Chairman of the Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Society (LACCS), Founder and Editor of the diplomatic publication “Nuevo Mundo 2000”. He received the “Heads of Mission Award”, in 1995 and 2000, in recognition for his persisting efforts to upgrade a cooperative diplomatic community in the U.K. The awards were presented by Their Excellencies the Ambassadors of the Republics of Slovenia and Ukraine respectively. Professor J R Monroy received several recognitions by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, for his contribution to promote a better cultural understanding among nations accredited at the Court of St. James’s in the U.K.