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Chile is considered an example for the Bolsonaro government and the Brazilian business community. Some political sectors of our country envy the Chilean economic model, which they call “Latin American Switzerland”. But the popular uprising that has broken out in Santiago in recent days shows that there is something totally wrong with this diagnosis. No “neoliberalism works” without deep social malaise.

On Monday, Oct. 14, President Sebastián Piñera implemented an increase of 30 Chilean pesos in the subway fare. Coincidentally, the value corresponds to approximately 20 cents of Real (the fuse of June 2013). The mobilizations against the tariff increase grew throughout the week, with calls for “evasion”, that is, to jump the turnstiles without paying the tariff.

The revolt grew among high school students throughout the week, spreading among working youth. On Friday, April 18, in the face of social radicalization, Piñera declared a state of emergency, handed over the interior ministry to the Armed Forces, and placed tanks on the streets of the entire country. The revolt grew: more than 20 subway stations were set on fire by the population in Santiago that morning. The images of burned down stations quickly became viral in the networks. On Saturday, 19, the Chileans challenged the state of emergency and the curfew, followed by bus fires and faced massive repression. Until the president canceled the increase in the passage, although he did not retreat from militarization.

It is easy to see that there are not only 30 Chilean pesos. Chile has the worst pensions in the region: in 2018, half of all Chileans had pensions lower than the floor of US$870. The national average for pensions does not reach the minimum wage of R$1,200. In addition to working, the elderly spend unbelievable sums on medicines and private hospitals. The country has one of the highest rates of family indebtedness, reaching a historical record of 73% of family income (almost twice that of Brazil). The right to strike is prohibited and illegal in most companies, which do not offer minimum labor guarantees. Workers do not have enough union rights to fight for improvements. For every 10 jobs created in the country, 7 are outsourced or precarious.

The Ecuadorian people won their battle against the neoliberal package and repression a week ago. The example of this struggle, led by CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), is already being felt throughout the Latin American continent.

The PSOL agrees with the analysis that radical neoliberalism like the Chilean needed a bloodbath to be implemented during the Pinochet dictatorship. The violence of the Chilean model is daily, it is in labor relations, in disguised unemployment, in the extreme mercantilization of health, social security, and education. We express our broadest solidarity with the Chilean people, who after all are fighting for the same thing that we are fighting for: a strong system of social rights with public funding that offers dignity and well-being to the entire population.

There are already 11 dead. We demand the end of the curfew, the immediate freedom of all prisoners and the end of the State of Emergency, a terrible legacy of the Pinochet years!

A new page to support and build new alternatives in Latin America and the world, defending the power of the workers and people against the 1% of the rich and privileged, and a society without exploitation.

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  • Pedro Fuentes
  • Bernardo Corrêa
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