New and old generations of the left have rallied around the presidential candidacy of Gabriel Boric. The young have opened the avenues and the old are following them. A new country is being heralded in which justice and equality should be the heritage of all our people. If we achieve this, we will be able to pay the debt we owe to Salvador Allende.
The Popular Unity Government raised great hopes among the Chilean people. The nationalisation of copper made it possible to recover the millions of dollars that transnational companies were taking abroad; the deepening of the agrarian reform made it possible for peasants and Mapuches to benefit from the land they worked; public control of banks and monopolistic companies was intended to put an end to usury in credit and unfair prices for consumers; workers’ participation in companies was unprecedented; universities with education for the workers were democratised; and art and culture reached internationally recognised heights.
However, the same generation that governed with Allende and carried out the transition from dictatorship to democracy was not able to put an end to neoliberalism, accepting injustices and inequalities. The young people said it loudly on 18-O: it is not the thirty pesos, but the thirty years.
It was the young people, first the high school students and then the university students, who ignited the spark for change. The mobilisations in favour of free and decent education extended to feminist and environmental demands, against the AFP and for decent health care. And we must not forget that at the forefront of these struggles were Gabriel Boric, Camila Vallejo, Giorgio Jackson and Karol Cariola. They are determined to install a government of transformations in our country.
The result of the primaries has been categorical. A new leadership has emerged in Chilean politics. The parties and leaders of the former Concertación/Nueva Mayoría have ended up in ruins, shamefully closing a thirty-year political cycle. Nobody votes for them any more, not even their own militants.
Some of us, today committed to the new leadership of the left, and who were for some years part of the Concertación, resigned from their party militancy because we rebelled against a transition subordinated to the economic groups, and also because we were ashamed of the political-corporate corruption.
Growth, as the main argument of the transition – still maintained by politicians, businessmen and establishment economists – forgot the most sensitive issues for historical socialism and for the left in general: the unionisation of workers; income inequalities; decent education, health and pensions; industrialisation; consumer protection; a state that defends the weak; and a Latin Americanist international policy. Incidentally, new issues are now being incorporated, which feed into the programme of transformations: feminism, environmentalism and regionalisation.
Some dissidents from the Socialist Party, together with other sectors of the left, tried, with Jorge Arrate in 2009, to raise a project of rupture with neoliberalism. We did not have good results, but the dignity of our proposal perhaps made a modest contribution to the ideas and mobilisations that were subsequently deployed. Other socialists found alternative forms of protest and dissidence in the face of a PS given over to neoliberalism, authoritarianism and disrespect for its militancy.
We historical socialists, who committed ourselves to the struggles and transformative ideas of Recabarren, Eugenio González, Raúl Ampuero, Clodomiro Almeyda and Salvador Allende, hope that Boric will be a continuation of those leaders. That history of struggle and his ideas, together with those of the current generation, give insurmountable strength to the project of change that Chilean society demands.
A large part of the citizenry has placed its trust in the new generation to head the presidential candidacy of Apruebo Dignidad. The project to build a more egalitarian and just country is not full of roses, just as Allende’s was not. However, we are convinced that the maturity of Chilean society will ensure his victory in November. This will allow Boric to help us pay the debt we owe to Salvador Allende.