There is an island in the south of Chile that floats in the mist between the leaden waters of the Strait of Magellan. It is called Isla Dawson and, when the skies are clear, it can be seen by sailors and tourists, the rare navigators of these seas. There are few places in the world with such a smooth and stormy landscape.

Once, more than 15 years ago, while touring this beauty with a group of Ukrainian tourists, we spotted a humpback whale off the island that had not been recorded by scientists. Researchers often walk around the deck with a catalog of photographs of whale tails, because each whale has a unique pattern and shape, just as humans have fingerprints. All the whales whose tails have been photographed have names. This one had no photo and no name.

In a democratic vote, the group of tourists, still reeling from the recent proclamation of their country’s independence, unanimously decided to name this whale Ukraine. I hope that the Chilean whale Ukraine is well and enjoying its freedom in the middle of this endless landscape of icy waters at the end of the world. I hope that my companions on this journey are also well.

During Pinochet’s military dictatorship, Dawson Island was the place where the leaders of Salvador Allende’s overthrown government – “the communist hierarchs”, as the coup leaders called them – were imprisoned, including Miguel Lawner, one of the Chileans I most admire. Lawner, now 95, was executive director of the Corporación de Mejoramiento Urbano during the Allende government, responsible for social architecture projects to provide decent housing for the poorest of his people.

During his imprisonment on Dawson Island, he became a cartoonist and chronicler of life in the concentration camp. At his age, he is still active in professional and civic life. He is an indispensable person because he is one of those who never stop fighting.

The main embarkation point for Dawson Island is Punta Arenas, the hometown of the current president of Chile, Gabriel Boric. The same Boric who, in the elections of 21 November 2021, ran as the only left-wing option for the country and almost emerged as Allende’s heir. After winning the elections, he never missed an opportunity to condemn Venezuela, Cuba, or Nicaragua “for human rights violations”.

He followed to the letter the policy of militarising Mapuche lands of his supposed ideological rivals. He defended the Carabineros, who committed atrocities against his colleagues and constituents. He has never stopped repressing social movements, including the group of relatives of disappeared prisoners.

As for Boric’s criticism of the crimes of the State of Israel, something that the “civilized world” allows him to criticize, unlike the “unquestionable and exemplary Ukrainian democracy”, I dare to remind you that the main fighter in Chile against the Zionist regime, the communist mayor Daniel Jadue, is strangely imprisoned under this “leftist” government where “the institutions work”.

Jadue was Boric’s main rival for the anti-Pinochet option in the presidential elections. In the community of Recoleta, together with its inhabitants, he carried out large social projects that were known throughout the country, such as pharmacies, bookstores, popular real estate, and several others that marked a before and after in the country’s municipal administration. A few weeks ago, Daniel Jadue was formally charged with five counts of “corruption”, precisely because of his management of the popular pharmacies, which have ensured access to medicines for hundreds of thousands of Chileans in a country with the most expensive health system in Latin America.

Boric, an exemplary democrat, will not comment on the “decisions of justice”. At the recent ‘Ukraine peace summit’, the Chilean president not only greeted his good friend Zelenski, but outdid himself by comparing ‘Russia’s attacks’ on Ukraine to Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Immediately afterward, Miguel Lawner wrote in the Chilean magazine De Frente: “Boric can’t ignore the causes that motivated the Russian intervention in the Donbass region. It is an issue that touches me personally since my parents were born in Ukraine and were forced to emigrate in 1922 as a result of the attacks on villages populated mainly by Jewish families after the fall of the Tsarist empire.

“Since then, the word ‘pogrom’, which in Russian means devastation, has been known. Ukraine is now ruled by the forces that seized power in the country after the coup d’état that took place in 2014 […] This action had the full support of the US, which was interested in halting the growing political and economic influence that Russia had achieved after Putin’s rise to power,” Lawner continues.

In a brief and accurate overview of the history of the current Ukrainian tragedy, Lawner explains and warns of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, “a paramilitary body responsible for constant attacks on the independent republics of Donbass”. “This is a far-right organization founded by Andriy Biletsky, a criminal who served time in prison for murder and was released after the 2014 coup [d’état]. His crimes are countless, including 48 trade unionists burned alive in […] Odessa,” he wrote.

“The Azov Battalion has never hidden its admiration for the Nazis. Biletsky declared his support for the ‘crusade of the white nations of the world against the Jewish-led subhumans'”.

“On the other hand, they have become a dangerous international school for the formation of paramilitary forces ready to attack and crush any popular demonstration that threatens the reactionary regimes anywhere in the world. They have the full support of the current Ukrainian government, which has incorporated them as a regiment of its armed forces,” he recalled.

“During the last presidential elections in our country, I was struck by the display of a strange flag […]. When I inquired about the meaning of this flag, I learned for the first time about the existence of this Azov battalion, whose emblems are similar to those of Hitler’s special forces during the Second World War. The perpetrators of genocide, who killed and burned six million people in gas chambers, are the masters who guide the criminal actions of these legitimate neo-Nazis, and we already have them in Chile. Boric can’t ignore this background,” Lawner concluded.

It is impossible. That is why it is so incredible that there are still so many voices in Chile talking about the “bestial pressure of the right-wing” against the government. Which ‘right-wing’ are they talking about? And which ‘left wing’ government? I remember that long before Gabriel Boric appeared on the political scene, we discussed so much about whether it was worth saving a right-wing government disguised as a left-wing government from another right-wing government disguised as its opposition.

Because the Chilean left, divided and fragmented like most of the world’s lefts (if we can still speak in those terms), always saved neoliberal governments from electoral defeat at the last moment. Always breaking their promise of the previous elections to “never vote for them again”, for fear of the return to power of the Pinochetist right. With that kindness of always “turning the other cheek”, as a comrade used to say.

Gabriel Boric’s government is the clearest result of this long carnival of blackmail that has characterized Chilean political life since the return to democracy in 1988. A government that positions itself as a victim of ‘right-wing pressure’, but has very little and almost nothing left-wing about it. Moreover, one thing is very clear: the next Chilean government will not only be avowedly right-wing, it will finally be Pinochetist. No one has done more to discredit left-wing ideas and confuse everyone than Gabriel Boric’s government, which always ‘errs’ or ‘ignores’ one side or the other.

A government that positions itself as a victim of ‘right-wing pressure’, but has very little and almost nothing left-wing about it.

Chile’s problem is not that Boric ‘does not personally like Putin’, as he admitted a few days ago in Switzerland. Nor is it that he admires Zelenski to the extent that he might even resemble him. The big mess here is betrayal. So much faith and hope was placed in this man at the beginning of his mandate, after so many victims in the streets, after months of social upheaval, dreaming of changing something substantial, not the portrait of some scoundrels in the offices of the state for portraits of others like them.

Miguel Lawner certainly knows more than any of us about the great disappointments of time and history, but with his clarity and wisdom, he teaches us that the only possible answer to this hopelessness imposed on us on a global scale is to keep on fighting. And, from time to time, to look out into the infinity of the seas or of our dreams, where somewhere lives the whale that my fellow adventurers have christened ‘Ukraine’.