In 1973, the US government helped the brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet overthrow Salvador Allende, Chile's democratically elected socialist president, and then leading libertarians like Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek flew to Santiago where they helped Pinochet with his program of mass extermination, torture and terror, including 2,279 known executions, 27,255 verified torture victims, and 200,000 known exiles, with countless more uncounted and uncountable.
Pinochet's cruel purges in the name of "economic freedom" included acts of terror to shame the worst monsters of human history, including pushing at least 120 dissidents to their deaths from the helicopters far over the sea (today, the American right celebrates these ghastly murders with jokey memes). The American-backed torturers were especially cruel to artists: the folk-singer Victor Jara was publicly tortured to death in a football stadium, where guards smashed his fingers and then told him to play his guitar, shot him through the head, and then fired at least 40 bullets into his lifeless body.
A generation later, the Chilean left has demonstrated its resiliency and indomitable spirit, organizing a surprise surge in Chile's national elections, where the left-wing coalition Frente Amplio has taken 20.3% of the first round of presidential voting; this positions them to hold the balance of power in a presidency that may be taken by billionaire plutocrat Sebastian Pinera.
Frente Amplio is led by its youth wing, who are militating for free higher education, backed by environmental groups, humanists, libertarian leftists, the Pirate Party, and other insurgent left-wing movements, all bound together in a coalition that has held firm and changed the direction of Chilean politics -- despite their own internal divisions.
Frente Amplio’s 1.3 million voters, many of them students who took to the streets over the last few years in demand of free higher education, now become the power brokers. Their support in the Dec. 17 election would swing the vote in Guillier’s favor. Their abstention would leave the path clear for Pinera to return to the presidency for a second term.
“Frente Amplio has the keys to the second round in their hands,” said Kenneth Bunker, director of the electoral program at Universidad Central. “Guillier can’t win without them.”
The coalition ranges from environmental groups, such as the Ecological Green Party, via the Humanist Party to a series of groups on the far left, including the Libertarian Left, the Autonomous Movement, the Autonomous Left and the Pirate Party.
Some of those parties spearheaded the seizure of schools and universities by students across the country in the past few years and brought tens of thousands onto the streets in regular protests. Many have little in common among themselves, let alone with Guillier.
From Street Protests to Kingmaker, Chile’s New Left Comes of Age [Philip Sanders and Javiera Quiroga/Bloomberg]
(Image: Marcelo Urra, CC-BY-SA)
(via Naked Capitalism)