T.O. Weekly 76 (Part 2): Iran Women – Antiwar Conferences – Russia Resistance – Brazil Election – Chile Referendum
The ORGANIZER Weekly Newsletter
Issue No. 76 – International Edition
September 29, 2022
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No to War! Not Putin! Not Biden! Not Macron! Paris Oct 22 Mass Rally
IN THIS ISSUE:
• IRAN: Protest and Anger After the Murder of Mahsa Amini
• Onward to the International Working Women’s Conference and Open World Conference Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International (Paris, October 29-30, 2022)
• RUSSIA: On September 21, the War Entered Every Russian Home: Report from Our Correspondents
• BRAZIL: On October 2, Workers and Youth Will Vote for Lula to Oust Bolsonaro
• CHILE: Constitutional Referendum: A Defeat? Yes, that of the Boric Government
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IRAN: Protest and Anger After the Murder of Mahsa Amini
Iranian Students protest the killing of Mahsa Amini on Sept. 20. Signs read: “You Did Not Die, You Are Our Symbol!
Greetings to the Women of Iran
(Statement by Christel Keiser, national secretary of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France (POID) and convener of its Women’s Commission, as well as Co-convener of the International Working Women’s Conference (October 29, 2022)
Since September 17, women in Iran, along with men, have been mobilizing by the hundreds, then by the thousands and tens of thousands, to protest against the regime responsible for the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini after her arrest by the sinister morality police.
While the police officially have announced 35 deaths – nearly 60 according to other sources – and thousands of arrests, the workers of the world are unconditionally at the side of the women and men of Iran, against repression, for the democratic freedoms that women demand. And to begin with, the freedom to choose freely how to dress.
Their struggle joins that of women all over the world. It joins the struggle of the women and girls of Afghanistan who are courageously demonstrating for the right to return to school. It joins the struggle of women in Russia, who are at the forefront of mobilizations against the war. It joins the fight of women in the United States to control their own bodies. It joins the struggle of women in Europe, the first victims of soaring prices, precariousness and the “war inside” waged by war-mongering capitalist governments.
In Iran, by marching side by side and on an equal footing with the men, chanting “Down with the dictator, whether he is the shah or the Leader,”  the women indicate that it is the old oppressive regime that must be swept away. A regime which, like all the others, makes the workers pay for the crisis of the capitalist system based on the private ownership of the means of production. A regime that maintains and aggravates all forms of oppression, especially patriarchal oppression, because it is about preserving exploitation.
These problems are posed all over the world, as we affirmed two years ago, when we launched with Rubina Jamil, General Secretary of the All-Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF), the call for an international meeting of women workers:
“All over the world, women are mobilizing increasingly in the fight for the effective equality of rights between women and men.
“Victims of a double oppression, of a double exploitation, in all fields, as workers but also as mothers and as women, they stand up against all forms of oppression, discrimination and violence, of patriarchal domination.
“We who are engaged in our respective countries in these struggles and mobilizations know that the particular demands of women are part of the more general struggle of the working class for its emancipation.
“However, women – and this is not contradictory – have specific demands: equal pay and professional equality, legal equality, the establishment of childcare facilities, the right to self-determination and freedom of choice in motherhood, an end to the harassment and violence they suffer.”
This conference is one that we have inscribed in the continuity of the conference of the Socialist Women’s International of Copenhagen, in 1910, which decided to organize an international women’s day every year on March 8.
The International Conference of Working Women will be held on Saturday, October 29 in the Paris region.
Long live the struggle of Iranian women! Long live the struggle of women workers all over the world!
* That is, the Supreme Leader of the theocratic regime.
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Report from an Activist of the Marxist Organization of Iran
Iran has once again descended into chaos and unrest. This explosion is not unusual in recent years. Once again the streets of major cities have been transformed into a battlefield where those who are fed up with the theocratic regime, who want to fight against the tyranny of the mullahs who have taken over the country for the last four decades, are gathering.
The latest round of riots was triggered by the death of a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the notorious “morality police.” She was hospitalized after falling into a coma, evidently after being beaten while in custody.
The latest in a long line of violence against women
This murder is the latest in a long line of violence against women, who are brutally abused and mistreated by police forces enforcing an arbitrary dress code imposed on Iranian women, one of which requires women to cover their hair with the mandatory head covering.
This law, which came into effect nearly a year after the 1979 Islamic revolution, has been an ongoing point of contention between the regime and women, a discord that has intensified
intensified over the years. But this is the first time in decades that it is at the center of the conflict between the people and the government.
People from all walks of life are rioting in many cities and the fire has even spread to some religious circles who believe their faith is being hijacked and manipulated by the government.
Protests become more radical, targeting the regime
As with all similar incidents in Iran over the years, the protests quickly became radicalized, targeting the regime and its legitimacy, as well as its tyrant, the ayatollah, and his corrupt friends. In a country that has not seen free elections for more than 40 years, that is ruled by a reactionary religious despot and a bunch of corrupt people, a country whose economy is in ruins due to years of nepotism and rampant corruption, all exacerbated by international sanctions, any demonstration can easily turn into a full-scale confrontation, as is the case today.
In addition, Kurdish opposition groups, who were present en masse at Mahsa’s funeral, have called for resistance and strikes. Reports indicate that at least eight people have died so far in clashes between government forces and rioters.
Isfahan, Shiraz, Tehran and almost every major city in Iran have seen similar protests, denouncing the death of the young woman and years of oppression by the regime. Various workers’ unions, including the teachers’ union, supported the protesters and the right of women to freely choose their clothing.
Will this series of protests be crushed by government repression or will it give rise to a larger movement? The anger and discontent of the population certainly contributes to the hope that this movement will grow against the regime. But the lack of leadership and organization among the demonstrators makes it more likely that, like previous ones, this flame will be extinguished by the brutal repression of a regime that does not hesitate to open fire on its own citizens.
— September 21, 2022
On September 13, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini from Kurdistan (northwestern Iran) was arrested in Tehran by the “morality police” for wearing her veil improperly. She fell into a coma during her detention and died on September 16. Beginning on the 17th, demonstrations took place in Kurdistan, paralyzed by a general strike. On September 19, demonstrations began in Tehran and spread one by one to the major cities, with strong participation by women.
The Iranian Teachers’ Association (ITTA), which groups several regional unions, called for two days of strikes in solidarity with the wave of protests. The union has been fighting for teachers’ rights for years, organizing petitions, demonstrations and strikes that have been violently suppressed by the authorities.
In 1979, a revolution mobilizing tens of millions of workers, peasants, women and students brought down the bloodthirsty regime of the Shah, a regime supported by the United States and Israel. But, lacking revolutionary leadership, the revolution was confiscated by the Shiite clergy (the mullahs) and behind them, certain sectors of the bourgeoisie. Against the workers’ committees, the clergy imposed a theocratic regime. The governments of the United States and France, like the Soviet bureaucracy, worried about the revolution, pushed the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq to attack Iran in a murderous war that would last ten years and consolidate the mullahs’ regime
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Protests in St. Petersburg on Sept. 21
Onward to the International Working Women’s Conference and Open World Conference Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International (Paris, October 29-30, 2022)
By ordering the mobilization of 300,000 reservists to be sent to Ukraine, Putin has taken the war to a new level.
The offensive of the Ukrainian army – armed to the teeth by NATO – has pushed the corrupt regime of oligarchs in Russia into this headlong rush. By decreeing this mobilization, Putin is bringing the war into every Russian home, provoking anxiety, but also rejection of it – along with the first sparks of revolt.
While ordering the deployment of the conscripts, Putin has also annexed the Ukrainian territories that he occupies and evoked the possible use of nuclear weapons, thereby taking the conflict a step further.
These provocations will inevitably lead to new provocations by NATO, as Putin is not the only one responsible for the war, contrary to Biden’s assertion that “no one but Russia sought the conflict.”
U.S. imperialism and its armed wing, NATO, which, with $14 billion to equip the Ukrainian army, are waging a “proxy war” against Russia (a step in their preparations for war against China). They bear an overwhelming responsibility for the war.
The European governments are all aligned with NATO. They too are delivering tons of armaments to Ukraine and charging the bill to the workers of their own countries.
It is the capitalist system that is the main perpetrator of war. It is ultimately against this system and the governments that are subservient to it that the people of the world are rising up, from Sri Lanka to Iran.
To oppose the war, Russian workers and young people have no choice but to rise up against Putin’s regime.
Similarly, workers in the U.S. and Europe can only stop the escalation of war by fighting against their own war-mongering governments. They have the right to demand that the organizations that speak in their name break with these governments.
This is the meaning of the International Working Women’s Conference and Open World Conference Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International, where activists from all over the world will speak under the same flag of struggle against war and exploitation, for a Workers’ International.
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On September 21, the War Entered Every Russian Home: Report from Our Correspondents
Moscow rally on Sept. 21
On September 21, Putin decreed the “partial mobilization” of 300,000 reservists to be sent to Ukraine. Referring to nuclear weapons, he added: “We will use all means at our disposal.”
The offensive by the Ukrainian army, heavily armed by NATO, has provoked what the Biden administration was expecting: a new escalation towards a generalized conflict. The announcement of the mass deployment and its immediate implementation caused an earthquake throughout Russia. As early as September 21, calls to gather in protest were circulating widely. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of young people, women and workers gathered to shout “No to War! The OVD-info website counted at least 1,386 arrests.
On September 21, the war entered every home. As soon as Putin’s speech was given, hits on Internet search engines broke records: “How to break an arm,” – “How to leave the country”… but also “revolution.” On the 21st and 22nd, miles of lined-up cars were seen at the border crossings between Russia and Georgia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, to escape the mobilization of reservists.
The Duma (Parliament) published the law on partial mobilization and increased prison sentences for those who refuse military service. On the other hand, it decreed that federal, regional and municipal deputies and senior officials will be exempted from going to war, not to mention the oligarchs. The opposition movement Vesna writes:
“The senior civil servants who are crying out for mobilization of reservists will stay warm in their chairs, and alive and well. They are the ones who should be mobilized and sent to Ukraine: let them go and die for their follies, rather than sending ordinary guys to their deaths.”
“What does the mobilization of reservists mean to the average Russian?”
The Union of Marxists, one of the workers’ organizations opposed to the war, explains:
“What does mobilization mean for the average Russian? For the young person who, having graduated after being forced to pay for the privatized university, cannot find a job? For the father of a family with two children, whose salary has not been paid since the beginning of the summer? What does the mobilization mean for the nurse who, for years, has been forced to work overtime because of the lack of staff? It means that the bourgeois State has nothing else to offer its citizens but to become human shields to protect the wallets of the big bosses and the deputies, who are exempted from going to war.”
Workers rounded up in the factories
Beginning September 21, the men were summoned to the Voenkomat (registration offices). In Tambov, a woman explains:
“Law enforcement came to the office where my cousin works, and they put the employees in a minibus for the military enlistment office.” In Surgut: “The summons were distributed to the homes. People are being picked up at factories and enterprises.” In Yakutia: “They took my father, he is 58 years old. They came at night to give him the summons, and now he is on his way to the military unit.” In the Republic of Buryatia: “In all remote villages and Ulan-Ude, they distributed summons. Even people in their sixties received it.”
The cost of the war
According to the Moscow Times, the mobilization will cost the equivalent of nine times the annual budget of Murmansk or 56 times the annual budget of the Kalmykia Republic. At the same time, Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Duma’s national defense committee, made it clear – in a country where millions of workers are forced to go into debt – that “mobilized citizens will continue to pay their mortgage debts.”
From the 21st, calls for demonstrations at 7 p.m. were circulating: “Together with the entire anti-war movement, we call on the anti-war movement, we call on the Russian military: refuse to participate in the war! No to moguilization” (moguila: the grave). In Moscow, thousands of young and old gathered on the Arbat (old street in the historical center). In tight rows, they chanted, “No to war!” The police arrested the demonstrators one by one, with the usual violence. Despite the repression, hundreds of young people descended the Arbat with the same slogan.
In Izhevsk (Ural), demonstrators spontaneously gathered in front of a street musician who sang songs by Egor Letov: at each anti-war verse, people applauded. In Lenin Square in Novosibirsk, according to the local media, about a hundred people came to protest, as in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad (strangled by the NATO blockade). In the Caucasian republic of Dagestan, on the outskirts of the village of Babayurt, hundreds of residents blocked the road in an attempt to block the minibuses filled with reservists.
Authorities in Uzbekistan (the former Soviet Republic in Central Asia where hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are from) ordered their citizens in Russia not to participate in the “illegal” rallies.
Women at the forefront
Everywhere, women, mothers and wives of reservists are on the front lines. In St. Petersburg, on September 21, in the late afternoon, they gathered on St. Isaac’s Square, surrounded by police. They chanted “No to war!” in front of the police who tried to disperse them. Unimaginable until 24 hours ago: a rally of women against the war took place in Grozny, capital of Chechnya and in a Caucasian republic held with an iron fist by the mafioso Ramzan Kadyrov, a protégé of the Kremlin.
It was the first such protest rally since 2004! According to the channel 1ADAT, the 130 women gathered near a mosque were arrested even before the beginning of the demonstration. Among them were mothers of Kadyrovtsy, elite soldiers of the private army that Kadyrov sent to Ukraine.
In the unions
Among the first reactions of independent trade union organizations was that of the University Solidarity union:
“It is impossible for us to remain silent … . We have expressed our position on many occasions: we are categorically opposed to aggressive military action in any form. We are categorically opposed to any form of militaristic propaganda, especially in educational institutions … . It is through struggle, not in a fratricidal war, that we will get our rights!”
The mobilization of reservists is the pretext to strike more and more at the workers’ movement. On September 22, a Moscow court once again extended the pre-trial detention of Kirill Ukratsev, an activist of the Kurier delivery workers’ union, who was arrested at the end of April during the delivery workers’ strike in Moscow. His request to be placed under house arrest, despite the fact that his health has seriously deteriorated in prison, was again rejected.
Putin justifies his military aggression by the “denazification” of Ukraine, referring to the real neo-Nazi groups that are swarming, even in the army, in Ukraine. Just as they are swarming in Russia, even in the State apparatus. But now Putin and Zelensky have proceeded to a prisoner exchange, thanks to the “humanitarian” mediation of Turkish President Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince Ben Salman. To obtain his friend, the Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk (godfather of one of his daughters), Putin returned 215 fighters to Zelensky, including 108 members of the neo-Nazi Azov regiment. One woman’s comment, among hundreds of others, on the Internet: “These bastards are sending our children to Ukraine, supposedly to ‘fight the Nazis’ when they are releasing them to save their buddies!”
Zyuganov supports Putin
As usual, the leader of the “Communist” Party, Gennady Zyuganov, supports Putin and says, referring to the struggle of the Soviet people against Nazism: “Each generation has the right to its 1941 (date of the Nazi attack on the USSR – ed.) but also to its 1945.”
An activist of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party commented:
“Licking the boots of his own bourgeoisie and supporting all its decisions, even the most unpopular ones among the workers, Zyuganov has forgotten one small detail: the class character of the USSR, which was the first workers’ state in the world. Today, the class character of the State is different. Moreover, according to point 2 of the presidential decree, citizens enlisted in the army can lose their jobs. One can appreciate this delicate attention of the State for its own soldiers! It was not in 1941, but in 1914 that we saw such things in the past. But 1914 was followed by the collapse of tsarism and the October Revolution.”
About the “referendums
The results of the “referendums” organized by the Putin regime in four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine (Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhia) were known in advance. The population was “invited” by the occupying authorities to vote for the attachment of these territories to Russia, and the results were obviously those decided by the Kremlin. For its part, the Ukrainian government threatened any citizen who participated in the vote with five years in prison. A Russian anti-war activist commented: “Ukraine will most certainly launch an offensive: it would be strange if the Ukrainian general staff were not making plans to counter the ‘referendums’. Russia will retaliate. There will be no lull. This means that thousands of citizens who will be driven to the polls at gunpoint will be caught in the crossfire.”
RUSSIA: Crisis at the Highest Levels of the Regime
For weeks, the Putin regime had been hesitating to proclaim a general mobilization of reservists. They were concerned about the thousands of kontraktniki (conscripts) returning from the front in zinc coffins. They were concerned that in the big arms factories, sparks could fly as workers had to work a twelve-hour day, including holidays.
In Moscow, the signs of the crisis at the top appeared. Breaking with the hum of State propaganda in the media, former deputy Nadezhdin targeted “Putin’s entourage” on NTV: “Someone told Putin that the Ukrainians were going to surrender, that they were going to flee, that they were going to want to join Russia … . These people lied to us.”
On September 9, two groups of city councilors from Moscow and St. Petersburg went further, demanding Putin’s resignation. Putin is responsible, according to one of them, for the “death of able-bodied Russian men, national economic decline, brain drain, and NATO expansion.” Even Ramzan Kadyrov, Putin’s Chechen potentate ally, threatened, “If today or tomorrow no change in strategy is made, I will be forced to speak with the leaders of the Ministry of Defense and the country to explain the real situation on the ground.”
By invading Ukraine, the regime of the mafia oligarchs in Moscow fell into the trap set for it by Washington. It is the U.S. strategy of “bait and bleed” that has been implemented, as part of the more general policy of the Biden administration to prepare for the confrontation with China. At the root of all this is the crisis of the capitalist system, based on private ownership of the means of production, which Wall Street is trying to overcome by seeking to strengthen its dominant position in the world, whatever the cost.
Over the past six months, in all the NATO countries, gigantic sums of money, plundered from the budgets of public services, have been poured into the war. The multinational arms companies have seen their order books explode. The “financial markets,” using the war as a pretext, are accumulating mega-profits by speculating on the prices of raw materials and energy, even if it means condemning hundreds of millions of human beings to hunger and destroying whole sections of industrial production.
We who are preparing the international rally against the war on October 22 in Paris and the World Conference Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International (October 29-30) affirm that the workers of the whole world have the capacity to put a stop to this infernal spiral.
The first step in this direction is the need for workers’ organizations, parties and unions, to break with the war-mongering governments: Not Putin, Not Biden, Not Macron!
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Demonstrations continued throughout Russia on September 24 and 25. They were particularly massive in the “national” republics, whose youth the Kremlin uses as cannon fodder. In Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan (Caucasus), hundreds of demonstrators protested as the police fired into the air to disperse them. In Yakutsk, in the Sakha Republic, hundreds of women performed a traditional dance (photo), surrounding the police who had come to arrest them: “No to war!”, “No to the massive deployment of Russian troops!”
We will not give our sons, our husbands and our fathers to the war effort” were the words on the placards. The OVD-Info website counted 2,353 arrests between September 21 and 25. According to the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta (banned in Russia), 261,000 people left the country over the past four days. Desperate acts are multiplying: some 15 registration offices were attacked with molotov cocktails. The summits of power have just shown the first signs of destabilization.
With the traditional tongue in cheek, Matvienko, chairwoman of the Federation Council, and Volodin, chairman of the Duma, both acknowledged some “excesses” in the organization of the mass deployment.
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“You can’t seize another country’s territory by force. The only country that has done this is Russia,” Biden told the United Nations. The only one? That’s the pot calling the kettle black. What about the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011? What about the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003? What about the occupation of Haiti? What about Palestine?
The United States did not wait for Putin to come along when it came to annexation and occupation. Let’s recall that in 2009, in Kosovo, a mafia group equipped from top to bottom by NATO proclaimed the “independence” of this territory, home to the largest U.S. military base in Europe, Camp Bondsteel. The guest of honor at the “independence ceremony” was the U.S. vice president at the time, Joe Biden.
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BRAZIL: On October 2, Workers and Youth Will Vote for Lula to Oust Bolsonaro
Lula launches campaign with rally in Sao Paulo on Aug. 20
The first round of the presidential election will take place on October 2. Faced with the ultra-reactionary Bolsonaro, Lula, historic leader of the Workers’ Party (PT), is expected to win in the first or second round. What are the stakes of this election? In a declaration, from which we publish excerpts, the Brazilian militants of the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International (OCRFI) present their point of view.
Four years of Bolsonaro
In four years of government on behalf of the capitalist minority, Bolsonaro, supported by the Congress (Parliament) and by the decisions of the Supreme Court (STF), has extended exploitation and oppression by dismantling social security, increasing job insecurity, and attacking public services and civil servants in the name of budget cuts and debt repayment. Bolsonaro and his ilk have privatized essential sectors such as electricity and oil, decreeing the independence of the Central Bank. In short, he has increased poverty, unemployment and allowed hunger to return to the country.
The masses will vote for Lula
Let’s add that at the most critical moment of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bolsonaro’s negligence in public health and vaccine purchases caused thousands of deaths that could have been avoided. In addition, deforestation and persecution of indigenous peoples in the Amazon have been unleashed, and violent police incursions on the outskirts of major cities have resulted in numerous massacres of Black youth.
Hoping to complete today what they were not allowed to do in 2018 , the Brazilian working masses have already made their choice: They will vote for Lula in order to oust Bolsonaro and put an end to this barbaric policy that is not at all specific to Brazil but is simply the Brazilian expression of the crisis of global capitalism.
A section of the ruling class has “let go” of Bolsonaro
While the majority of workers decided to re-elect Lula as president to stop the intolerable policies of Bolsonaro, important sectors of the ruling class that until yesterday supported Bolsonaro (such as sectors of the PSDB and Geraldo Alckmin ) now present themselves as Lula’s allies. Why do they do this? Because this minority knows that Bolsonaro has absolutely no chance of beating Lula in the ballot box. They also know that it is impossible to carry out a military coup – as some Bolsonarists dream of doing – without provoking an unpredictable reaction from the working class and the people.
What do the new “allies” of the PT want?
What these new “allies” are looking for is to assert their place in a future Lula government in order to have veto power over social policies … and to sneak in all the counter-reforms not yet implemented. In the debate held at the invitation of the Employers’ Federation of São Paulo (FIESP), in the presence of Lula, the corporate honchos shamelessly demanded tax cuts, more privatizations, the assault on pro-labor laws, and the dismantling of public services.
Only the mobilization of the workers can impose a workers’ government
Only the mobilization of the workers and the people, with their trade union and popular organizations, with the committees of struggle, can create the conditions for a government at the service of their aspirations, a workers’ government. And this must start now, in the rallies, in the campaign to win the elections in the first round.
We, the activists of the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International (OCRFI), stand unconditionally with the Brazilian workers to vote for Lula in October 2022 to defeat Bolsonaro. For us, a workers’ government based on the struggles and aspirations of the working class and youth, should take the following measures:
– Stop paying the debt, which is not the people’s debt;
– Repeal all the counter-reforms of labor and pensions, as a first step to regain all the rights of the workers;
– Stop the cap on spending for public services! End public-private partnerships (PPP);
– Maintain jobs, no layoffs! No loss of wages, indexation of wages to inflation!;
– Immediate cancellation of the privatization of Eletrobras! Renationalization of what was privatized in Petrobras;
– No eviction from housing! National plan for the construction of affordable housing;
– Immediate agrarian reform! Nationalization of agribusiness lands whose owners are involved in illegal deforestation, arson, excessive use of pesticides, environmental crimes in general and disrespect for indigenous peoples;
– No to imperialist war, right to self-determination of peoples, international solidarity of workers!
(1) In 2018, Lula was prevented from representing the PT in the presidential election as a result of an operation, organized by institutions and representatives of the U.S. administration, which resulted in his imprisonment.
(2) Geraldo Alckmin is a capitalist politician linked to the party of the “liberal” bourgeoisie – the PSDB. He was imposed by the PT leadership as a candidate for vice president alongside Lula. Alckmin is part of the wing of ruling class that prefers to confiscate the victory of the workers, blurring the class content of this victory, mixing their interests for profit and the continuity of their agenda as part of a generic democracy, anchored in the undemocratic institutions inherited from the military in the 1960s and ’70s. These are the same people who have not stopped attacking workers’ and people’s rights in recent times and who turned their backs on the results of the 2014 elections, when they ousted Dilma, or rejected a democratic solution to the crisis proposed by Dilma in 2016.
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CHILE: Constitutional Referendum: A Defeat? Yes, that of the Boric Government
On September 4, a nationwide referendum was held to decide whether the proposed new constitution would replace the one that has been in force since the dictatorship [see Background sidebar]. With 85 percent participation, 61 percent of voters rejected the new constitution. Is this a victory for the right wing, as some on the “left” say? Is it a defeat for workers and youth?
The forces of reaction obviously mobilized their electorate: The bourgeois neighborhoods voted massively to preserve the institutions of the Pinochet regime. But does this mobilization by the reactionary forces explain everything?
For the past three years, Chile has witnessed intense mobilizations by labor, popular sectors, and youth.
October 2019: High school students in Santiago revolted, bringing along the workers. Rising from the massive rejection of the increase in the price of public transportation, the protest extended to the whole system inherited from the dictatorship.
October 2020: Seventy-eight percent of voters went to the polls in a referendum to end the Pinochet Constitution, and 79% voted in favor of a Constituent Assembly.
December 2021: Spurred by this mobilization, Gabriel Boric – a former student leader – was elected President of the Republic at the head of a left-wing coalition that brought together the debris of the Socialist Party and the Communist Party.
In March 2022, Boric and his majority trampled upon the mandate that millions of voters had given them. By appointing Mario Marcel as finance minister, a man devoted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Boric has pursued the dictatorship’s policies on pension funds and privatization. He has continued the military crackdown on the indigenous Mapuche people who are demanding their right to land from the big landowners. As for the dozens of young people arrested in October 2019, they continue to languish in prison. In foreign policy, Boric has sided with NATO.
In the last few days, Boric himself has pulled out the rug from under the “yes” supporters, suggesting that the institutions could be reformed by a vote in Congress, that is, by the corrupt Parliament in which the heirs of the dictatorship are still comfortably installed.
Hence, it is first and foremost the policies of the Boric government and its allies that are responsible for the September 4 result.
Hours after the vote, Boric made a cabinet reshuffle to give the financial institutions new guarantees. And he sent the carabinieri to beat up thousands of students who were demonstrating in Santiago. Students chanted: “Money for our studies, not for the cops!” and “The Pinochet Constitution will fall, it will fall!” — D.F.
 The content of the draft of the new Constitution, which was developed since 2021 through a constituent process, did not generate much enthusiasm as it failed to guarantee the return of land and natural and economic wealth to the nation.
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Supported by the United States, the Pinochet dictatorship martyred the people of Chile from 1973 to 1989. Pinochet had his constitution endorsed in 1980. At the end of the dictatorship, a broad “consensus” (La Concertación) was reached between the Socialist and Communist parties and the Christian Democracy, a consensus that preserved all the institutional legacy of the dictatorship, maintaining all of Pinochet’s anti-worker policies: pension funds that condemned retirees to ruin (the AFP), widespread privatizations (from copper to higher education), deregulation, and more.