Home2020-03-23T16:28:40+00:00

Vaccine Internationalism Is How We End the Pandemic

By |17/June/2021|

While the G7 is prolonging the pandemic, the Summit for Vaccine Internationalism is organising to end it.

Since the last G7 meeting in February, one million more people have died from Covid-19. A new wave of the pandemic is decidedly here — and with it, the warning that the virus could mutate further and become resistant to existing vaccines.

And yet, despite this lethal urgency, a plan and commitment to vaccinate the world failed to materialise in Cornwall. Even the heralded pledge to donate a billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine — a fraction of the 11 billion doses the world needs, and spread over a year and a half — dropped to 870 million by the time the meetings concluded, out of which only 613 million doses are truly new.

We cannot seriously expect the G7 leaders to challenge a global health system that they constructed. Nor can we wait around for fresh promises of charity. As the G7 pose for photographs on the beach, new variants of concern continue to accelerate the virus’s assault: the Alpha variant in the UK, Beta in South Africa, Gamma in Brazil and, now, Delta in India. Every minute that global cooperation is delayed is another neighbourhood of lives at risk.

As of today, the G7 countries have purchased over a third of the world’s vaccine supply, despite making up only 13 per cent of the global population. Africa, meanwhile, with its 1.34 billion people, has vaccinated a meagre 1.8 percent of its population. The result: at the current rate, low-income countries will be left waiting 57 years for everyone to be fully vaccinated.

That is why the Progressive International is bringing together a new planetary alliance of government ministers, political leaders and vaccine manufacturers in an emergency summit for #VaccineInternationalism.

In this moment, every laboratory, every factory, every scientist and every healthcare worker must be empowered to produce and deliver more vaccines for everyone, everywhere. Instead, high- and middle-income countries have used up more than 85 per cent of the world’s vaccine supply. Many have done nothing to waive patent monopolies on vaccines. None of them have done anything to force a transfer of vaccine technology to the world.

Today, as most of the world grapples with having any vaccines at all, the United States and other rich countries grapple with what will soon be huge surpluses of vaccines.

It is clear: the end of this pandemic is now being artificially delayed. It could end — we could make enough vaccines in one year, according to Public Citizen — but instead of sharing technology and cooperating to manufacture vaccines, powerful pharmaceutical companies are choosing to extend it. The IQVIA report on the potential market for booster shots is telling: an estimated $157 billion will be spent worldwide on Covid-19 vaccines through 2025. Governments have already transferred extraordinary amounts of public money into private pockets, creating nine new billionaires — pharmaceutical executives that have handsomely profited from a monopoly on Covid-19 vaccines. Their combined wealth is enough

Vaccine Internationalism Is How We End the Pandemic

By |17/June/2021|

While the G7 is prolonging the pandemic, the Summit for Vaccine Internationalism is organising to end it.

Since the last G7 meeting in February, one million more people have died from Covid-19. A new wave of the pandemic is decidedly here — and with it, the warning that the virus could mutate further and become resistant to existing vaccines.

And yet, despite this lethal urgency, a plan and commitment to vaccinate the world failed to materialise in Cornwall. Even the heralded pledge to donate a billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine — a fraction of the 11 billion doses the world needs, and spread over a year and a half — dropped to 870 million by the time the meetings concluded, out of which only 613 million doses are truly new.

We cannot seriously expect the G7 leaders to challenge a global health system that they constructed. Nor can we wait around for fresh promises of charity. As the G7 pose for photographs on the beach, new variants of concern continue to accelerate the virus’s assault: the Alpha variant in the UK, Beta in South Africa, Gamma in Brazil and, now, Delta in India. Every minute that global cooperation is delayed is another neighbourhood of lives at risk.

As of today, the G7 countries have purchased over a third of the world’s vaccine supply, despite making up only 13 per cent of the global population. Africa, meanwhile, with its 1.34 billion people, has vaccinated a meagre 1.8 percent of its population. The result: at the current rate, low-income countries will be left waiting 57 years for everyone to be fully vaccinated.

That is why the Progressive International is bringing together a new planetary alliance of government ministers, political leaders and vaccine manufacturers in an emergency summit for #VaccineInternationalism.

In this moment, every laboratory, every factory, every scientist and every healthcare worker must be empowered to produce and deliver more vaccines for everyone, everywhere. Instead, high- and middle-income countries have used up more than 85 per cent of the world’s vaccine supply. Many have done nothing to waive patent monopolies on vaccines. None of them have done anything to force a transfer of vaccine technology to the world.

Today, as most of the world grapples with having any vaccines at all, the United States and other rich countries grapple with what will soon be huge surpluses of vaccines.

It is clear: the end of this pandemic is now being artificially delayed. It could end — we could make enough vaccines in one year, according to Public Citizen — but instead of sharing technology and cooperating to manufacture vaccines, powerful pharmaceutical companies are choosing to extend it. The IQVIA report on the potential market for booster shots is telling: an estimated $157 billion will be spent worldwide on Covid-19 vaccines through 2025. Governments have already transferred extraordinary amounts of public money into private pockets, creating nine new billionaires — pharmaceutical executives that have handsomely profited from a monopoly on Covid-19 vaccines. Their combined wealth is enough

The Run-Up to Nicaragua’s 2021 Elections: Part Two

By |18/June/2021|

If the Sandinista government can continue its success in managing Covid-19, it will likely pay dividends at the ballot box despite increased interference by foreign powers.

This November, Nicaragua will hold elections for its next government. In the second of our two-part series, Alborada analyses the challenges for the country’s governing Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).

You can read part one here.

Electoral reforms: the Nicaraguan way

Integral to ensuring sovereignty and fairness in Nicaragua’s elections this year are the electoral reforms that were recently passed after intense scrutiny by 85 out of 90 sitting parliamentarians. There are two important aspects to these reforms. The first is the huge step towards gender parity, which is part of the wider FLSN campaign for gender equality. All electoral bodies in the future must constitute at least 50 per cent women, necessitating wider representation on upcoming electoral lists.

In contrast, when such proposals have been put forward in countries such as the UK, they have continually been met with opposition. No such law enshrining women’s representation at parliamentary level exists in the UK, but it now does in Nicaragua. This speaks to a broader system of electoral representation in the country, in which all citizens 16-years-old and over can vote. Photo ID cards with barcodes, which 95 per cent of citizens now possess, are used at the ballot box. A new ID card programme, which has set up 132 offices across the country, is pushing for 100 per cent attainment by November. Electoral turnout has averaged 70 per cent since 1984.

The second amendment of note is the one restricting international financing of candidates and parties. In essence, it maintains national sovereignty over elections and an equal electoral playing field:

The financing system for parties or alliances of parties establishes that they may not receive donations from state or mixed institutions, whether national or foreign, or from private institutions, when they are foreigners or nationals while abroad. They may not receive donations from any type of foreign entity for any purpose. It should be noted that this same system of prohibition of foreign funds for the electoral campaign is also applied in countries such as Germany, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain, among others.

It’s certainly not a radical proposal but one that is necessary considering the events of 2018. However, it is this second amendment that led, in part, to the withdrawal of Cristiana Chamorro from this year’s presidential race. Cristiana Chamorro is the daughter of former Nicaraguan president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, the same former president installed in 1990 at the behest of the US after a decade of contra warfare. The Chamorro family owns La Prensa and Confidencial, newspapers funded partly by USAID. In 2020 alone, the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation received US$1,697,400 from USAID as part of a Media Strengthening Programme. Since 2015, they have received US$6 million. Meanwhile, the European Union, through the Spanish government’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), have transferred €831,527 to the Chamorro Foundation.

The fact that

Castillo Poised to Write New Chapter for Peru

By |10/June/2021|

Pedro Castillo’s victory will represent a huge blow to US interests in Latin America.

With his wide-brimmed peasant hat and oversized teacher’s pencil held high, Peru’s Pedro Castillo has been traveling the country exhorting voters to get behind a call that has been particularly urgent during this devastating pandemic: ‘No más pobres en un país rico’ – No more poor people in a rich country. In a cliffhanger of an election with a huge urban-rural and class divide, it appears that the rural teacher, farmer and union leader is about to make history by defeating – by less than one per cent – powerful far-right candidate Keiko Fujimori, scion of the country’s political ‘Fujimori dynasty’.

Fujimori is challenging the election’s results, alleging widespread fraud. Her campaign has only presented evidence of isolated irregularities, and so far there is nothing to suggest a tainted vote. However, she can challenge some of the votes to delay the final results, and much like in the US, even an allegation of fraud by the losing candidate will cause uncertainty and raise tensions in the country.

Castillo’s victory will be remarkable not only because he is a leftist teacher who is the son of illiterate peasants and his campaign was grossly outspent by Fujimori, but there was a relentless propaganda attack against him that touched on historical fears of Peru’s middle class and elites. It was similar to what happened recently to progressive candidate Andrés Arauz who narrowly lost Ecuador’s elections, but even more intense. Grupo El Comercio, a media conglomerate that controls 80 per cent of Peru’s newspapers, led the charge against Castillo. They accused him of being a terrorist with links to the Shining Path, a guerrilla group whose conflict with the state between 1980 and 2002 led to tens of thousands of deaths and left the population traumatised. Castillo’s link to the Shining Path link is flimsy: while a leader with Sutep, an education worker’s union, Castillo is said to have been friendly with Movadef, the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights, a group alleged to have been the political wing of the Shining Path. In reality, Castillo himself was a rondero when the insurgency was most active. Ronderos were peasant self-defence groups that protected their communities from the guerrillas and continue to provide security against crime and violence.

Two weeks before the elections, on 23 May, 18 people were massacred in the rural Peruvian town of San Miguel del Ene. The government immediately attributed the attack to the remnants of the Shining Path involved in drug trafficking, although no group has taken responsibility yet. The media linked the attack to Castillo and his campaign, whipping up fear of more violence should he win the presidency. Castillo denounced the attack and reminded Peruvians that similar massacres had occurred in the run-up to the 2011 and 2016 elections. For her part, Fujimori suggested Castillo was linked to the killing.

On the economic front,

The Run-Up to Nicaragua’s 2021 Elections: Part One

By |10/June/2021|

There is no socialist country on this planet that isn’t subject to international political interference. Such is the case with Nicaragua.

In 1979, the people of Nicaragua famously rose up against the US-dictatorship overseen by the dynastic Somoza family. The Sandinista revolution – led by the socialist vanguard party Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (Sandinista National Liberation Front, FSLN) – inspired people across the world as it introduced free education, free healthcare, land reforms and other fundamental human rights to the country for the first time. Unfortunately, after a decade of bombing, blockades, disinformation and assassinations orchestrated by the US government, the people of Nicaragua were forced to surrender to a US-puppet regime in 1990, this time fronted by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro of the Union Nacional Opositora (National Opposition Union, UNO). There followed 16 years of neoliberal rule which oversaw a stringent programme of austerity and privatisation, reversing many of the social gains introduced by the Sandinistas.

However, Sandinismo was never eradicated and the FSLN were triumphantly voted back into power in 2007, with Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega at the helm. Since then, the country has once again embarked on a mission to uplift the poorest sections of society, including programmes of poverty eradication, total literacy, food sovereignty, universal healthcare, free education, decent housing, agroecology, green energy, labour rights, gender equality and indigenous autonomy. 58 per cent of the 2021 budget has been allocated for social spending, with health, education, housing and equality regarded as human rights.

In this two-part article, we’ll be looking at the potential problems facing the country ahead of the crucial election on 7 November this year.

The 2018 failed coup and its repercussions

With its radical plan for democratic equality, the FLSN has attracted the attention of many countries in the international community. Its mixed economic model of state planning with controlled free-market elements has helped to maintain national sovereignty since 2007. It has put the people of Nicaragua at the forefront and refused to become a neo-colony of its former occupier or any other country. But from the days of the Monroe Doctrine to Operation Condor to contemporary imperialism, the US has often seen Latin America as its backyard: a site for resource extraction, cheap labour and balmy vacations. Ideological or economic independence is therefore not tolerated. Thus, in 2018, after another decade of Sandinista rule, the US attempted another coup. As in the 1980s, it did this through a series of what we might call new contra forcespaid domestic and international opposition groups who initiated the street violence and media disinformation needed to force regime change.

The financial and ideological connections between the 2018 contra forces and the US government have been expertly documented in English by Ben Norton at The Grayzone, Stephen Sefton at Tortilla con Sal and John Perry in various places. The primary funders of the failed coup were USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy, both of which operate as well-known covert (and overt) arms of

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No Evidence of Systematic Fraud Found in Peru Elections

By |9/June/2021|

The Progressive International statement on the 2021 presidential elections in Peru.

Neither statistical models analysing results in real-time nor our time physical monitoring of this process have revealed any evidence of systematic fraud in the course of the 2021 Peruvian presidential elections.

The delegation of the Progressive International in Lima congratulates the Peruvian people in the exercise of their democratic will through a peaceful and free vote on 6 June 2021.

But the electoral process is not yet over. It is imperative to maintain patience and vigilance as the final results are counted – especially in the face of fresh attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the democratic process.

We denounce and reject baseless allegations of fraud, made without evidence in the final moments of this democratic celebration. These accusations jeopardise the integrity of the electoral process and the votes of tens of millions of Peruvians who cast their ballots this Sunday. We must ensure that their will is respected.

The delegation of the Progressive International has seen no evidence of systemic fraud in the course of the 2021 Peruvian presidential elections. Neither statistical models analysing results in real-time nor our time physical monitoring of this process have revealed any evidence of fraud.

We know too well the danger of false accusation of fraud claims. In November 2019, a violent coup in Bolivia removed democratically elected former president Evo Morales from office on the false pretence that the Movement Toward Socialism had interfered in the electoral process.

These claims were systematically proven to be false. But in the interim, an unelected coup regime reigned with impunity.

One year later, President Donald Trump provoked a revanchist attack on the US Capitol in order to ‘stop the steal’ – again provoking a violent reaction to democracy on the basis of false accusations of fraud.

The people of Peru are now concluding a free and fair election, overseen without major irregularities by the Jurado Nacional de Elecciones (JNE) and the Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorals (ONPE). Fellow international electoral observation delegations – including the Unión Interamericana de Organismos Electorales (UNIORE) – have likewise come to the same conclusion.

Through a tragic pandemic, a dizzying media campaign, and a severe economic crisis, the Peruvian people have mobilised to exercise their right to popular sovereignty. Our obligation now is to defend it.

This statement was originally published by Progressive International and has been edited for style.

Alborada is a member of the Progressive International wire service.

Crunch Time in Mexico

By |5/June/2021|

Success in mid-term elections will be a huge step forward for president Andres Manuel López Obrador.

Ever heard of a country where electoral fraud favours the opposition? Try Mexico, with its corrupt and aberrant Electoral Commission (National Electoral Institute, INE by its Spanish initials).

Political polarisation has been growing in Mexico over several aspects of president Andres Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO’s) “Fourth Transformation” – national control of oil and electric power, reform of a notoriously corrupt judicial system, bringing delinquent old-regime politicians to justice, ending false subcontracting and ensuring gender parity and indigenous rights.

Now the entire direction of travel has reached a critical point not seen since AMLO’s election in 2018, with the mid-term elections coming up on 6 June.

At stake are all 500 seats in the Lower House of the Mexican Congress, 15 of 32 state governorships, legislative assemblies in most of the states and thousands of mayoral and councillor positions in local governments.

If AMLO’s Morena party wins most of these positions, the Fourth Transformation will be consolidated and accelerated. If it loses, the country will be thrown into severe crisis.

On the whole the polls are looking good for Morena, but the elections are far from being a pushover. This is because of several institutional roadblocks which favour the opposition.

The first roadblock is INE, controlled by a small cabal of longstanding members who scarcely even try to disguise their sympathies for the old-regime parties, PRI and PAN.

Even before the start of the official two-month campaign period, INE imposed a gagging order on the president, forbidding him from discussing party politics or claiming partisan credit for governmental programmes in his morning press conferences.

INE has also used its powers of supervision over party campaigns in blatant discriminatory fashion, disqualifying 49 Morena candidates for alleged minor infractions in election spending while ignoring any infractions by other parties.

Opposition governors and mayors in several important states and cities continue to bend and break the electoral rules with impunity as INE looks the other way.

While striving to avoid direct confrontation, AMLO has openly denounced the bias of INE and of the Judicial Electoral Tribunal which supposedly acts as a check on INE but shares its corrupt tendencies.

Indeed AMLO has indicated that after the elections he will introduce legislation to reform INE and other defective organisations, but this will not deal with the immediate problem.

As the president insists, ‘Only the people can guarantee democracy’ – and there must be mass mobilisation to vote on 6 June and to exercise vigilance at polling stations and in the count.

Thanks to AMLO’s reforms there are some institutions with integrity which have begun to intervene against fraudulent actions by the opposition.

The attorney-general’s office (FGR by its Spanish initials) has brought legal actions against some right-wing politicians for fraudulent transactions, threats and coercion of voters and the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) has been suspending bank accounts of opposition politicians suspected of bribery and links to organised crime.

AMLO succeeded in appointing a progressive attorney general and an incorruptible chief

Colombia Is Rising Up

By |1/June/2021|

28 May marked one month of large-scale protests across Colombia, an uprising without a clear precedent in the South American country’s history.

The  uprising in Colombia started with a national strike in April protesting a tax reform bill, but it soon became an entrenched mass movement against poverty, inequality, and state violence, fueled by poor urban youths who do battle directly with the police. According to human rights groups, more than 40 people have been killed by security forces, and the upheaval has turned into a genuine crisis of legitimacy for a historically unpopular government. VICE News spent time on the front lines of the unrest.

 

 

 

Indestructible Podcast #4: Latin America in the Media

By |30/May/2021|

Rodrigo Acuña interviews journalist and author Alan MacLeod about English-language media coverage of Latin America

Indestructible: Latin America with Rodrigo Acuña is a new podcast from Alborada bringing you monthly discussions with some of the most interesting voices working on and from Latin America.

The podcast is available on Spotify and other podcast streaming websites.

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Please consider supporting the podcast on Patreon.

::: Episode 4:

Latin America in the Media: An Interview with Alan MacLeod

Listen to episode 4 on Audioboom and range of other podcast streaming websites

Click here to go to the Indestructible homepage.

Presented by Alborada contributing editor Rodrigo Acuña

Produced and edited by Pablo Navarrete

Music by Chylez Productions.

Please consider supporting the podcast on Patreon.

Get in touch with the podcast: info [at] alborada [dot] net

Towards a New Chilean Constitution

By |29/May/2021|

The constitutional assembly will present the principles to govern the new Chile, as it appears that both the end of the democratic transition and neoliberalism in Chile are accelerating.

A leaderless social movement gathering millions of people across Chile began in October 2019. After decades of protests over healthcare, pensions, education and other issues, these multiple demands converged as one general clamour for social justice and dignity. The referendum for the new constitution, one of the core objectives, would reveal that the status quo had lost legitimacy and that the Chilean people were demanding the re-foundation of the country. This meant dismantling the legacy of the Pinochet regime which benefited a handful of people who today own companies that once belonged to the Chilean State. These were privatised very quickly and cheaply during the dictatorship.

The fallacy of the ‘Chilean economic miracle’ – the term crafted by accolytes of neoliberalism – was there for all to see. Low salaries, rising housing and living costs andprivatised healthcare, education and pensions made life almost impossible for the average Chilean. University education no longer meant a way out of poverty, but rather more debt without necessarily finding job opportunities in the long run.

When President Sebastián Piñera and the political elite gave in to the will of the people on 15 November 2019 and announced a Constitutional Referendum, not even a month after the protests began, there was a glimpse of hope: we would have the opportunity to decide whether to write a constitution from scratch. The vote, scheduled for April 2020, was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis, which also gave more time for its opponents to develop heavily-financed campaigns to try to make people vote against it.

But it was to no avail: almost 80 per cent  of voters that participated said yes to the writing of a New Constitution. Such a decisive mandate was also supported by a second vote on having a constitutional assembly, which was to be 100 per cent elected and was to have gender parity. In a world’s first, the new Chilean constitution is the first in history which will be written by an assembly formed with respect to gender parity – the assembly will be comprised of 81 women and 74 men. The whole world is watching us, and we feel proud of Chilean women’s accomplishment.

On 15-16 May, elections were held to choose the 155 members of the constitutional assembly, and the results were as follows: 48 members come from independent lists, while opposition members from two lists altogether claimed 53 seats – of those, Lista del Apruebo (List of Approval), formed of centre-left parties who had ruled the country for over 20 years, only claimed 25 seats in the Assembly. The ruling political coalition, Vamos por Chile (Let’s Go Chile), the only rightwing list, only got 37 seats, despite having the largest amount of TV campaign airtime. The remaining 17 seats were reserved for indigenous communities, seven of which were for Mapuche representatives, the largest indigenous group in

The Fight for a New Colombia

By |26/May/2021|

The latest round of protests against Colombia’s right-wing government have seen a brutal crackdown, leading to at least 43 deaths – but the mass movement for social change is only growing stronger.

On 28 April, Colombian trade unions and social movements staged a new round of Paro Nacional (National Strike) protests, the latest in an ongoing series of mobilisations to address the litany of problems impacting Colombian society.

Opposition to a planned tax reform – which strike organisers said would unfairly target the middle and working classes in what is one of Latin America’s most unequal countries – was the central issue, particularly in the context of the global pandemic which has pushed an estimated five million Colombians out of work. Calls to repeal the tax reform were aligned with longer-running demands around growing poverty levels, addressing the human rights crisis affecting much of the country and properly advancing implementation of the 2016 peace agreement.

Since the National Strike movement was launched in November 2019, protesters have become accustomed to the police crackdowns of President Iván Duque’s right-wing administration. Yet even by recent standards, the spread and duration of the violence unleashed since 28 April has been extreme. For over three weeks of daily protests across Colombia, Colombian security forces – especially the notorious riot police unit, the Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (ESMAD) – have committed massive human rights violations as Duque’s government seeks to suppress anger towards his government.

As befits the camera phone era, social media has told the story of Colombia’s social revolt. Thousands of images and videos have spread virtually, with several standing out for their exhibitions of social unity or poignant solidarity: mothers bearing improvised shields join youthful protesters on the frontline to face off against militarised police; statues of colonisers are toppled and replaced with likenesses of victims of state violence: music, art and dance energise crowds whose voices rise as one to demand a fairer Colombia.

While the official organisation of the National Strike movement comes from trade unions together with peasant, indigenous and other established social organisations, the protests have been characterised by the mobilisation of young Colombians from poor urban neighbourhoods. In cities across the country, most notably in Cali, this new generation of political protesters have become the so-called ‘front line’ resisting ever-increasing levels of police brutality.

Social media has also exposed the horrific violence inflicted on protesters by security forces. In one harrowing video, as four ESMAD agents drag her into a police station in Popayán, 17-year-old Alison Melendez shouts that they are removing her trousers. The next day, after reporting they had sexually assaulted her, she took her life. Footage filmed in the town of Madrid in Cundinamarca shows a tear gas canister fired at protesters from an armoured police vehicle. The projectile hit 24-year-old Brayan Niño in the face, killing him despite the efforts of those around him.

By 18 May Colombian human rights organisations had registered security forces apparent responsibility for more than 2,300 acts of

Chile: Elections Pave the Way to a New Country

By |23/May/2021|

The elections for Chile’s Constitutional Convention show a massive public desire for true social-political transformation and, crucially, provide the means to achieve it.

Elections to the Constituent Convention charged with writing a new Constitution for Chile have yielded a result nobody expected. The left went into the elections divided across many lists, the right was united under one banner, the parties of the social-liberal Concertación under another. Of the total number of 155 seats, polls predicted that the Concertación list would get 45 seats, the right wing coalition, Vamos por Chile, between 56-60 seats. One government spokesperson said, ‘We’re going to win three-nil. We’re going to get the biggest vote, the most constituents and get over a third [of the Convention].’

Hubris comes before a fall though, and the results have, without hyperbole, been a political earthquake. The Concertación parties got 25 seats rather than 45, and the Christian Democrats, Chile’s main political party since the 1960s, were virtually wiped out. Only two members of the Convention were elected on their list, and only one of them is a member of the party. The Right list got 37 seats, not enough to hold a veto over the proceedings, which require a two-thirds majority for approval. Even if they vote together, the centrists and the right can’t scrape enough votes to get a third of the Convention. Their historic stranglehold on Chilean politics is broken for the first time since 1970.

The biggest winners were the independent lists, who together got almost 60 per cent of the vote. The bulk of these are leftwing, among them the 27 members of the ‘People’s List’.

In parallel elections for governors, mayors, and councillors, the results were again a triumph for the left, which ran in loose alliance in many areas. The Frente Amplio did well, winning in Valparaiso, Viña del Mar and the Santiago district of Ñuñoa, with 12 mayors in total and 16 seats in the Convention. The Communists have returned as a party of truly national significance with almost ten per cent of councillors across the country, seven mayors – including the mayor of metropolitan Santiago – showing that they can now attract the vote of large numbers of non-communists. Daniel Jadue, the popular Communist mayor of Recoleta in Santiago, won a landslide majority of 64 per cent, almost tripling the votes obtained by its nearest rival, and is polling well as a presidential candidate.

To top it all, the Communist Party now has seven members of the Constituent Convention and nine members of Parliament. The Party, which was decimated by Pinochet and fought so hard for democracy to return but was then excluded from institutional politics for 20 years, is deservedly relishing its comeback. The victory of the three leftwing groups, the People’s list, the Frente Amplio and the Communists, and of a joint primary between the latter two, points to the emergence of a new dominant pole in Chilean politics.

Commentators are calling it the end of an era. The Concertación alliance is dead, the

A Progressive Alliance is Elected in Chile

By |19/May/2021|

A progressive alliance has been elected in Chile who will rewrite the Pinochet-era constitution.

In a development that was celebrated by champions of democracy around the world, Chilean voters this weekend elected a progressive slate of delegates to the constituent assembly tasked with rewriting the country’s right-wing constitution, which was imposed more than 40 years ago during General Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship and has continued to reproduce inequality for over three decades since the end of his rule.

Progressive International tweeted Monday that Chileans took a major step forward in the quest to ‘bury Pinochet’s constitution and write a new future for Chile’ – one that includes guaranteed access to public goods such as water, education, healthcare, pensions, and other necessities.

‘Chile will be the grave of neoliberalism!’ the group added – a particularly meaningful designation given that the country is often referred to as the laboratory of neoliberalism, where the privatisation of everything was first tested on an unwilling population.

After a US-backed coup toppled Chile’s democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende, on 11 September 1973, Pinochet’s regime implemented a wave of pro-market policies under anti-democratic circumstances at the behest of economists trained at the University of Chicago. This led to vast inequalities and rendered egalitarian reform exceedingly difficult, even in the post-dictatorship period that began in 1990.

There have been numerous attempts over the past 30 years to rein in market fundamentalism in Chile, but because neoliberalism was so deeply embedded in the country’s 1980 constitution, the reign of Pinochet’s politics outlived the military dictator.

During a historic referendum last October, which represented the culmination of a decades-long revolt against the neoliberal model, Chileans voted in a four-to-one landslide to rewrite the dictatorship-era constitution. Notably, voters chose for the new constitution to be written by a popularly elected assembly of constituents rather than a mixed assembly of politicians and citizens.

At the time, political theorist Melany Cruz called the overwhelming popular support for a new constitution a ‘chance to bury Pinochet’s legacy … and rebuild the country on a truly democratic basis.’ Still, the question remained: Who would be in charge of the process? Which of the more than 1,300 candidates would be selected for this monumental task?

During this past weekend’s election – originally scheduled for April but pushed back due to an increase in coronavirus infections – Chileans were finally given a chance to answer that question definitively.

Of the 155 citizens elected to the constituent assembly, only 38, which is less than a quarter, came from the right-wing coalition known as Vamos por Chile, El Ciudadano reported.

The Chilean newspaper noted that candidates from the centre-left coalition, known as Lista del Apruebo, won 25 seats. Meanwhile, 27 candidates from the left-wing coalition, Apruebo Dignidad, were victorious. Furthermore, 48 seats were picked up by ‘Independent’ candidates whom El Ciudadano described as ‘mostly linked

Photography

Kiev, 26 May 2018

By |27/May/2018|

Liverpool supporters attending the Champions League final carry banners in solidarity with Brazilian former president Lula Da Silva and Catalan political prisoners. Polls show that if Lula ran in this year’s presidential election, he would win by a landslide and restore the Workers’ Party to government.

Video

Chile’s Student Uprising (Documentary)

By |2/April/2020|

(Director Roberto Navarrete, 35 mins, Alborada Films, 2014)

Mass student protests took place in Chile between 2011 and 2013 demanding a free and state-funded education system and radical change in society. The documentary puts these protests in their historical context of widespread dissatisfaction with the economic model put in place under the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), but that still remains largely in place.

The film’s director travelled to Chile between 2011 and 2013 to speak to then student leaders (now Members of Congress) such as Camila Vallejo and Giorgio Jackson, and also to other students, to explore why their protests had caused such effect in Chile and inspired others in the country and beyond.

“Roberto Navarrete’s is the most complete and compelling visual account of Chile’s student uprising to date. All the lessons from Patricio Guzmán’s path-breaking style of documenting in film are there: poetic visuals, an engaged narrative, the focus on personal feelings and stories combined with subtle and accessible analysis, plus a sense of the tragic tempered by the optimism of the will. Navarrete adds to it the passion and distance of the exile’s gaze, and a Latin American Beckettian flare for celebration while thinking. This is a must see for all those interested in the current sway of global rebellions that show us all the shape of things to come. Superb!”

Dr Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Professor in Law, Birbeck, University of London and author of ‘Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11th, 1973’

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Chile’s Student Uprising (Documentary)

By |2/April/2020|

(Director Roberto Navarrete, 35 mins, Alborada Films, 2014)

Mass student protests took place in Chile between 2011 and 2013 demanding a free and state-funded education system and radical change in society. The documentary puts these protests in their historical context of widespread dissatisfaction with the economic model put in place under the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), but that still remains largely in place.

The film’s director travelled to Chile between 2011 and 2013 to speak to then student leaders (now Members of Congress) such as Camila Vallejo and Giorgio Jackson, and also to other students, to explore why their protests had caused such effect in Chile and inspired others in the country and beyond.

“Roberto Navarrete’s is the most complete and compelling visual account of Chile’s student uprising to date. All the lessons from Patricio Guzmán’s path-breaking style of documenting in film are there: poetic visuals, an engaged narrative, the focus on personal feelings and stories combined with subtle and accessible analysis, plus a sense of the tragic tempered by the optimism of the will. Navarrete adds to it the passion and distance of the exile’s gaze, and a Latin American Beckettian flare for celebration while thinking. This is a must see for all those interested in the current sway of global rebellions that show us all the shape of things to come. Superb!”

Dr Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Professor in Law, Birbeck, University of London and author of ‘Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11th, 1973’

Chile’s Student Uprising (Documentary)

By |2/April/2020|

(Director Roberto Navarrete, 35 mins, Alborada Films, 2014)

Mass student protests took place in Chile between 2011 and 2013 demanding a free and state-funded education system and radical change in society. The documentary puts these protests in their historical context of widespread dissatisfaction with the economic model put in place under the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), but that still remains largely in place.

The film’s director travelled to Chile between 2011 and 2013 to speak to then student leaders (now Members of Congress) such as Camila Vallejo and Giorgio Jackson, and also to other students, to explore why their protests had caused such effect in Chile and inspired others in the country and beyond.

“Roberto Navarrete’s is the most complete and compelling visual account of Chile’s student uprising to date. All the lessons from Patricio Guzmán’s path-breaking style of documenting in film are there: poetic visuals, an engaged narrative, the focus on personal feelings and stories combined with subtle and accessible analysis, plus a sense of the tragic tempered by the optimism of the will. Navarrete adds to it the passion and distance of the exile’s gaze, and a Latin American Beckettian flare for celebration while thinking. This is a must see for all those interested in the current sway of global rebellions that show us all the shape of things to come. Superb!”

Dr Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Professor in Law, Birbeck, University of London and author of ‘Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11th, 1973’