The Right conquers the La Moneda Palace with Sebastian Pinera
(Translated by Emily Hansen)
The multimillionaire businessman Sebastian Pinera, candidate of the conservative Coalition for Change, became Chile’s President Elect after defeating Eduardo Frei, candidate of the Agreement of Parties for the Democracy, by gaining 51.61% of the votes against Frei’s 48.38% of the votes in the recent election.
On the 11th of March President Michelle Bachelet will pass the presidential flag to Pinera, a multimillionaire businessman and intimate friend of Jose Maria Aznar, who he visited in Chile in September. The recent election has been called “momentuous” due to the fact that a right-wing President was elected while the majority of the countries in South America have progressive or revolutionary governments. Pinera is also an admirer of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who he paid homage to in July of 2008 and of whose political genocide in the name of “democratic security” he is an admirer. Writer Mario Vargas Llosa was also in Pinera’s company during the last few days of the campaign.
Pinera’s victory signifies an enormous backwards step in a country that has not completed its transition. With Pinera in La Moneda, the Constitution of 1980 (ratified by Pinochet) will remain valid and will not be reformed; the workers’ movement will continue suffering under the Pinochet Labor Code (ratified in 1980 by the Ministry of Labor, Jose Pinera, brother of the President Elect) - the Labor Code makes the right to strike very difficult, and impedes the negotiations of collective agreements; almost 800 oppressors of the dictatorship who were condemned will received guarantees of impunity; the public copper business (Codelco) will probably become privatized, at least partly; the one million Chileans living abroad will lose their right to vote; the binominal electoral law will not be reformed; the indigenous towns will continue to be massacred in Araucania (a region where it has been confirmed that yesterday Pinera won 57.51% of the votes); and, the major capitals will be able to continue accumulating wealth in one of the countries in the world where the gap between social classes is most accentuated.
Among the unknowns that will come with the new political scene is the future of the Agreement, a coalition that brings together demochristians, socialists, liberals, and radicals. In his concession speech, Frei and other directors suggested last night that the coalition that has run the country since 1990 will stay unified. However, this coalition has been united in the last decade by the interest of preserving the power, and the first problem that has arisen was that deputy Marco Enriquez-Ominami left the ranks of the Socialist Party on the 13th of December and obtained 20% of the votes. The weariness in the Agreement, in the same faces that had dominated the political scene during the last twenty years, comes more from the fact that the right has the economic and political memory of dictator Pinochet to thank for their success, and that everyone seems to have forgotten the grave human rights violations.
With this new political scene comes an even greater sense of responsibility for the forces of the left, the popular Chilean movement, weather they voted for Frei or not. Face with four years of conservative government rule that will probably use the Pinochet Democratic Independent Union (UDI) party as their main expression on the 11th of March, the necessity of a convergence of all the political and social forces that defend an alternative to neoliberalism, is more necessary than ever.
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