As a protagonist of the immortal Russian novelist Mikhail Bulgakov once said, “We are all suddenly mortal”. On the evening of 6 February this year, the helicopter of former Chilean President Sebastián Piñera crashed on Lake Ranco in the south of the country. It happened during a family outing, after lunch with his businessman friend. Three passengers swam away and the former president, who was at the helm, died.
Now the official Chilean press is bursting with condolences for the death of an “outstanding democrat”, an “exemplary statesman”, a “true leader”, and so on. Some who say they are “leftists” add the politically correct “despite our great political differences”. In the same chorus, the voices of the current president of Chile, the “autonomous left” Gabriel Boric, and that of his government’s spokesperson, the communist Camila Vallejo, can be heard.
Until only a few years ago, Gabriel, Camila and hundreds of thousands of their comrades resisted the policies of this “exemplary democrat” who was one of the main ideological architects of the plundering of the country by the Chilean and foreign elites, under the jets of water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. The supposed “great political differences” were not the subject of philosophical disputes with illustrious thinkers, but blood and tears in the streets of Chile day and night, with the horrible buzzing of police helicopter horns, just as in the years of Pinochet’s dictatorship. It was Piñera who turned the “never again” into the eternal return to Chile’s worst nightmare.
Despite the best efforts of the skilful and well-paid media magicians, death does not possess the gift of turning black into white. Without rejoicing at the tragic accident that cost Piñera his life, we cannot but regret that in this life he has never been tried for his crimes.
Nor can we fail to remember the murders by the Chilean army and police of dozens of his compatriots during his two governments, who never flew in their private helicopters to the mansions of businessmen friends for a lunch, but took to the streets to defend the minimum rights to education and health, which the billionaire Piñera considered only as “commodities”.
Let us also remember the hundreds of Chileans who lost their eyes during the social outburst of 2019, because in repressing the demonstrations against their government and obeying superior orders, the carabineros deliberately shot at the eyes of the demonstrators. Let us not forget either the brutal occupation of Mapuche lands by the racist forces of the Chilean state, dozens of cases of “terrorism” fabricated by the police of murdered social leaders, the paramilitary training of Chilean carabineros by the Colombian narco-police and a caveman anti-communist demagogy in the official press.
I will never celebrate any of the deaths. But those who have not lost their memory and who still have some shame left cannot mourn this man.
Many things come to mind now. For example, the letter of the Chilean writer Pedro Lemebel to Piñera still in 2009, in the middle of the election campaign, before his first presidential term, when he was not yet shedding blood from his hands. In his missive Lemebel touched on one of the foundational myths of Piñera’s discourse: the belief that during the 1998 plebiscite, Piñera voted “No” to the dictatorship (as the vote is secret, no one so far will be able to prove it).
“…You want to buy this little country too cheaply, Don Piñera; you who go through life valuing and asking yourself how much everything is worth. And, in one fell swoop, you buy half of Chiloé, with boats and palafitos included. With hills, forests and rivers, until the look is lost in the distance, it belongs to you. How can there be people who own so much of the horizon? How can there be people who are so engrossed in the landscape? I find this gluttony of having so much obscene. I am astonished that, on top of that, you want to direct our lives from La Moneda. You want to finish off this country very cheaply, Don Piñi, and only with the light-hearted speech of a good-natured boy scout. You offer pure good vibes, Don Piñi boy as if you were winning over the populace with peanuts and crisps. Nothing more, the rest is pure money; money-grubbing, that’s all you want to go down in posterity. Because, when you misquote Neruda, it is clear that you are only good with numbers and not with words. In other words, you are pure numbers and calculations, Mr Piñi, a little reflection, little verb, little idea, although that is the only word you use among your few effective words. Good vibes and futurism. Wounds are patched with dollars. Memory is left behind like a grim film to forget. Without hesitation, march on, the future is ours (it sounds like a Nazi youth anthem) … In other words, you’re being too clever, Don Piñi. You want us to believe that you were always a Democrat, but we remember you rubbing the dictatorship’s back, (…), a friend of the same fascist gang that encourages your campaign. The worst, the gorilla of terror. It seems that this soil never learned its lesson, not even by blows, and easily swallows the sermon of the Pinochetist right, now remastered with neo-liberal sheepskin. But they are the same as they were then, proudly enjoying the privileges of democracy that we, and only we, got because I also doubt that, in the plebiscite, I voted no, sympathising with the right…”.
Although many times in life one swears to oneself not to be surprised by anything, for me the saddest thing about Piñera’s death, is so many supposed Chilean leftists, the ones who recently mobilised to free and return Pinochet, from London to Chile, and now so naturally mourn another murderer.
The original article is taken from desinformemonos.org and can be read here.