Who takes responsibility for the current chaos?

Every day, in the various press articles that are disseminated by the mass media, an accelerated crisis in the governance of the different powers of the State can be seen. This crisis is being suffered by the forgotten majorities, and the only winners in this chaos are the political and business elite, with their consumerist lifestyles that deny the needs of the common good.

Faced with the citizens’ call for someone to take responsibility for the crisis they are living through, the opinion-makers’ discourse is based on holding ordinary people responsible for the disaster. Starting with a pejorative characterisation of the supposed nature of the people of this country, highlighting their ignorance, their laziness, their ineptitude, their incivility and a long etc. that mark the central and basic difficulties in being able to build a “developed country”, despite the incredible efforts made by the enlightened, expert and charitable elite.

The results of public policy led by professional political experts can be seen in Chile, Argentina, Peru and the catastrophe in Ecuador. It is imperative to open the door to the proposals of the social organisations’ protest agendas and the seizure of power by popular sovereignty. Let us look at some examples of denunciations and proposals from the organised social base:

Protection of children and adolescents.

The State’s discourse (in the hands of the elite) on children and adolescents focuses on the dissemination of the work carried out, the coverage of its programmes and the budgets delivered, relegating to a secondary place the implications that these have for the people who receive their “benefits”.

News such as the PDI report (revealed by CIPER) which investigated 240 children’s homes and reported 2,071 cases of abuse, 310 of which were reported by the PDI. 071 abuses, 310 of them with sexual connotations, in the Sename centres and in those managed by private individuals; the statements and actions of the former deputy René Saffirio, in relation to the report: “In 100% of the Sename centres the rights of children and adolescents are violated”; those of Patricia Muñoz, former ombudsman for children: “Children are still invisible” and the recent statement by Anuar Quesille, current ombudsman for children: “In Chile there are networks of sexual exploitation against children and adolescents”; “In Chile there are networks of sexual exploitation against children and adolescents”; “In Chile there are networks of sexual exploitation against children and adolescents”. The phrases “children come first” and “benefits granted” are far from being reality, and the opposite is true: children and adolescents are sexually trafficked, recruited by criminal gangs and as soldiers for drug traffickers.

According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Chile in 1990, children and adolescents are conceived and understood as subjects of rights and not as “objects of protection”, leaving behind the prevailing tutelary and adult-centric vision. In response to this new conception, the State must be the guarantor of the rights of children and adolescents by legislating and developing public policies that take a systemic and comprehensive view, thus overcoming isolated interventions and bringing together those involved in a common objective, with a gender focus that takes into account the gender roles and asymmetries that affect them; interculturality and inclusion, respecting and valuing their histories, experiences, particular knowledge and vision of the world, as opposed to exclusion, domination and cultural, social and political hegemonisation; a community and decentralised approach based on participatory dialogues and assuming the situation as a national issue and with special attention to the trajectories and life cycles of children and adolescents, considering the patterns or changes in their development and growth and the social and cultural structures in which they are immersed.

In its 2020 Annual Report, the Children’s Ombudsman’s Office highlights the importance of considering a rights-based approach to children and adolescents when allocating budgets, based on the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (one of the most important international covenants on children’s and adolescents’ rights), Social and Cultural Rights (one of the three pillars of the Universal System for the Protection of Human Rights, signed by Chile on 16 September 1969), which states that budgets must respect the principles of progressivity and non-regression of human rights, and that if considered, this would avoid the progressive decrease in the budget allocated to this issue, as reported on the website of the Observatorio de Derechos de la Defensoría de la Niñez, where data for 2022 would show a reversal of -0.5%, in addition to the decrease of 2.4% in 2021 with respect to 2020.

It is an ethical obligation to put an end to all actions, especially inequality and exclusion, which prevent children and adolescents from accessing their rights, especially the most basic right to life, which must be guaranteed by the States, since it is during childhood and adolescence that human potential is developed, physically, psychologically and emotionally, and which considerably influences their future development, determining their contribution – or the cost – to society throughout their lives.

Public education.

The idleness of the elite, in the face of public education, which does not resolve its direction, and which imposes a mercantile logic, with impossible procedures and forms, which only private fee-paying schools can have. Violence in coexistence, teachers’ workload, a curriculum limited by the obsession with standardised tests, an out-of-time vertical administration, a failed financing via vouchers, a degradation of education professionals and the stoning of the future for poor students. We see this in the conflicts that appear in the press all the time: misappropriation of public funds in countless municipalities, involving non-payment of salaries, non-payment of social security contributions, neglect of infrastructure maintenance needs. And the new administration nodes collapsed, as in the case of the entire region of Atacama 2023).

In this scenario, the struggle of the teachers’ union focuses on positioning public education as the central axis of the education system, overcoming the neoliberal model. The importance of teaching freedom is highlighted, framed in national values such as human rights and academic freedom. A flexible and contextualised curriculum is advocated, promoting culturally relevant education.

In terms of financing, a basal model is proposed to replace the per capita voucher, considering national and dynamic budgetary contributions according to the needs of each community. The participation of educational communities in the management of resources is fundamental.

A new regulatory framework must establish the leading role of the state, eliminating figures such as the “sustaining institution” and institutions that support market logic. The binding participation of the school community in management is advocated, eliminating entities such as the Superintendence of Education and the Quality Agency.

The fundamental principles of the new educational model must include diversity, coexistence, environmental care, inclusivity, equity, interculturality, secularism, gratuity, universality, contextualisation, decolonisation, non-sexism, democracy, socio-emotional development, solidarity, permanence, non-patriarchy and being based on human rights.

It recognises the infinite and multidimensional potentiality of the developing human being. Education should form individuals committed to social justice, equality and care for the environment, promoting full individual development and the common good. (See: NATIONAL CONGRESS ON EDUCATION).

And like these two cases, there is the same health, housing, labour, environment, and social welfare situation.

Faced with this account of the elite’s opinion makers, it is legitimate to ask: where have ordinary people had or still have political and economic power in their hands? The answer is, nowhere. Therefore, it is imperative to argue that we are in a situation where different human intentions for the control of power are confronted with each other, which is legitimate. In any case, those who have been failing in their hegemony, to build a social and political model, are those who have been exercising these functions in society, and according to their ideology, they necessarily need to leave their positions, so that other people, with a different intention, with a different lifestyle, with different needs, have the opportunity to carry out their attempts to correct the disaster of inequality, public insecurity, the trampling of human rights, the destruction of biodiversity and the closure of the future for new generations. Nothing could be worse than what we are suffering today.

Collaborative writing by Ricardo Lisboa Henríquez; M. Angélica Alvear Montecinos; Guillermo Garcés Parada; Sandra Arriola Oporto and César Anguita Sanhueza. Public Opinion Commission