We translate this interview conducted by comrades from Communaut with the collective Vamos Hacia La Vida from Chile. Feel free to also check out recent articles on the situation in Peru, strikes in Brazil, reports on self-management, health workers revolts and general crisis in Argentina and experience of international solidarity work in South America.
Introduction by Communaut
In recent years, there has been quite a bit of unrest on the Latin American continent. In Ecuador in 2019, a revolt kicked off after the increase in petrol and diesel prices, entire city centres were occupied, and the government lost control for weeks. After the increase in metro fares, the biggest uprising in decades occurred in Chile just a few weeks later. Despite the deployment of the military and fierce repression, the country did not come to a standstill. Even the important UN climate summit COP 25 in Santiago de Chile was cancelled because of the protests. The situation could only be brought under control with the onset of the Corona pandemic and the fear of the virus. Due to rising food prices, Colombia was also gripped by unprecedented mass protests in 2021. As the pandemic spread around the world, not only did the deadly disease spill over every border in Latin America, but the protests infected each other too. Thus, the continent has once again become a hope for many leftists worldwide.
One could say that something is repeating itself here that happened twenty years earlier. Back then, as now, large social movements and mass uprisings in Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil brought ‘left’ governments to power; with Lula, the new ‘bearer of hope’ in Brazil, it is even the same person that is reappearing two decades later. The fact that history always repeats itself twice, “one time as a great tragedy, the other time as a lousy farce” (Marx), seems to be remarkably confirmed by the example of the new ‘progressive’ governments in Latin America. Nevertheless, many leftists in Latin America and also in this country expect great things from these new governments; quite a few got tears in their eyes when Gabriel Boric (Chile), Gustavo Petro (Colombia) and Ignacio Lula da Silva (Brazil) took office. ‘Der Freitag’, a German left-wing magazine, recently ran a headline on the development in Latin America: “On the move: A whole continent draws new hope”. Only a short time later, Chancellor Scholz was on a shopping spree in South America together with an entourage of German employers. Thus, the open veins of Latin America (Galeano) continue to bleed today; at present, German capital is eager to exploit, above all, the huge lithium deposits to keep the German motorways filled with electric cars.
Besides the hope that many put in the new ‘left’ governments in Latin America, a few months ago the vote on the draft of a new constitution in Chile came into focus. From the radical left to the liberal left, the draft was hailed as the “most progressive constitution” in the world and a new dawn of emancipatory politics was expected in the country where once the dictator Pinochet, with the help of the Chicago Boys, ushered in neoliberal economic reforms and privatised almost all sectors throughout the country – education, the pension system, the health sector and water resources. But the vote on the draft constitution failed miserably. The supporters’ mood was correspondingly gloomy. The reason was soon identified and is seen above all in the campaign supported by fake news from reactionary and right-wing conservative circles in the country.
In the following interview with comrades from Santiago de Chile from the collective Vamos Hacia La Vida, we talked about the revolt of 2019, the new left governments in Latin America and the failure of the vote on the new draft constitution. In this right-wing campaign they see mostly a government strategy to ‘deactivate the revolt’, which successfully drove a wedge into the movement at the height of the uprising. They have also been critical of both the new government under Gabriel Boric and the draft of the new Chilean constitution even before the vote. They look at the situation in Chile with a social revolutionary perspective and have a political position beyond party politics and trade union bureaucracy.
Q: The vote on the new constitution was quite clearly defeated. All this despite the fact that many of the important demands of the mass protests of 2019 were actually included: among others, the right to abortion, the de-privatisation of water resources, the strengthening of minority rights, etc. Why was the draft of the new constitution so clearly rejected? Was it mainly due to the conservatives’ media disinformation campaign, as many leftists claim, or were there also underlying reasons for the Chilean proletariat to reject the draft?
Vamos Hacia la Vida: There are several elements to consider in order to understand the electoral defeat of the ‘Apruebo’ (the constitutional proposal) , and it is not so easy to determine how they all interact. First, however, it is necessary to clarify the content and true scope of the constitutional draft rejected on the 4th of September. Although it has been described as the most progressive constitutional text in the world, even by its own logic, in several aspects it only reaffirmed, not only the capitalist logic itself, which no Magna Carta can ever question, but also the marked neoliberal character of the Chilean economy and society. In terms of natural resource exploitation, for example, the draft was not far from what the business community itself required. With regard to copper mining, the country’s central economic activity, the constituent proposal essentially took up what the Mining Council, made up of the main mining companies operating in the country , dictated. Regarding the incorporation of rights demanded by various sectors of the population, we can explain the failure by the fact that a jumble of demands was presented in the rather pompous language of progressive academia, which content-wise was much less ambitious than what was raised in the streets during the first days of the revolt .
So, the first part of your question starts from an assumption that is not actually true. An analysis of the content of the draft shows that it was far removed from the pretensions of even the moderate leftist sectors. Throughout the development of the process, there were polemics about the final form of the various (legal) articles of the text, which were generally inoffensive to the interests of the capitalist class. There were also arguments about the mechanisms of representation of the political sectors within the Constitutional Convention, which finally gave power to the right wing and parties of the former ‘Concertación’ governments (centrist-left alliance of various parties), despite their crushing defeat in the constituent elections.
Now, of course, the triumph of the rejection vote is not to be found in the fact that the majority of the population shared this critical opinion of the text. In fact, very few people, even supporters of ‘Apruebo’, read the draft, despite the fact that the government itself printed hundreds of thousands of copies for distribution (by paying hundreds of millions of pesos to the “El Mercurio” printing house, the temple of right-wing media) . However, this partly sets the context in which other factors came into play and triggered the defeat of reformist aspirations.
Undoubtedly, the social contexts at the national and international levels are quite different between the events of the first referendum in 2020 and the recent one on the 4th of September 2022. In the current months, the blows of the generalised crisis of capital are being felt strongly in the region, with very high inflation and an almost intolerable rise in the cost of living. In this sense, in a climate of generalised uncertainty, the proposed new constitution seemed to increase instability. In the face of the crisis, popular voting behaviour is conservative. This is linked to the very perception of the current situation and the situation of the government. After an initial rejection of traditional politics in the last elections, traditional politics seemed to regain control both within the constitutional convention and in the government and congress, reducing enthusiasm and support for progressive proposals. Added to this was the fact that voting was compulsory under the threat of a fine. It should not go unmentioned that, in the months leading up to the referendum, the government itself took care to play down the importance of the plebiscite, stating that whatever the result, it should be the Congress that finally gave the draft its definitive version: 
“I will guarantee that this agreement [of the ruling parties to reform the text] will be implemented in the event of winning the approval (…) and that uncertainty will be removed from the people” (Boric).
There was also a collective intuition that the proposal was unsustainable in many respects, promising abstract rights while ensuring economic activities that would prevent their fulfilment. Moreover, its implementation would be slow and expensive, which again was read as negative by a large part of the population, and certainly, these were elements used by the right wing and its campaign for rejection. It is also, it should be noted, a vote of disapproval of the first months of government, in which, under the excuse of fiscal responsibility, austerity policies have been even more notorious than those of the previous Piñera government.
Finally, we would like to make it clear that for us the result of the vote does not mean a tendency towards the right-wing of the population in general. Here we disagree with a broad spectrum of the left that ranted against the “ignorant populace” in the days after the vote. Rather, the result of the vote expresses a certain sentiment, fed by the activity of leftism in government and its ‘critical supporters’, in a specific social context of global crisis. In any case, the defeat of the Apruebo was not perceived as a great popular victory. There were no mass celebrations in the city centres, much less in the outskirts. The more openly reactionary and right-wing sectors assessed it as a triumph, but even within their ranks many were cautious about claiming credit for all the no votes.
Q: The discussion on a new constitution began immediately after (or during) the 2019 uprising and always took place at the local level across the country, in so-called cabildos (community councils). Here, most of the representatives of the official parties were not trusted. Moreover, the drafting of a new constitution has been the political goal of a large part of Chilean society or social movements since the end of the Pinochet era. Why, however, do you describe the vote as a “spectacle” and a “political farce”? How did these popular initiatives relate to the final process of drafting the constitution?
VHLV: It must be emphasised that the demand for a new constitution was not raised from the beginning of the uprising and was not the reason for the explosion of the revolt. It is true that it was positioned early on as a unifying demand, but not during the first days. It was installed rather externally from political organisations and the trade union bureaucracy that were not acting directly in the various early expressions of the revolt. In particular, various trade union bureaucracies, mainly linked to the CP, which came together in an amorphous and ephemeral body called Social Unity, were the ones who tried to direct the enormous deployment of energies in the first weeks behind the demand for a new constitution. A distinction must also be made between the so-called ‘cabildos’ and the Asambleas Territoriales proper (or Asambleas Populares, as they were called in some cities other than Santiago) . At first, these names for the emerging bodies of assembly coordination were somewhat confusing, but the so-called ‘cabildos’ were quickly confined to the official institutional bodies, particularly the municipalities, which came together throughout the country and even held their own election process. 
The ‘cabildos’, very much in the minority, focused almost exclusively on calling for a constituent process, but in the Territorial Assemblies, the process was quite different, with the latter behaving as meeting spaces for organising activities in the neighbourhoods, debating the context, preparing demonstrations, responding to the concrete needs of the local neighbourhoods, and so on. Nor is it really the case that the new constitution has been a historical and massive demand in Chilean society. It was always a slogan of the more institutional left and of certain citizens’ initiatives, of reformism, after all, but not necessarily of a large part of the more radical left or of the anarchist milieu, nor was it integrated into the bulk of the population. In fact, the defeat of the ‘Apruebo’ partially demonstrates this reality.
The process was not a “farce” or a “spectacle” only because it was insufficient or because of its flawed origin in the “Agreement for Social Peace” (Acuerdo por la Paz Social) negotiated behind closed doors, but because it was positioned as the best way to deactivate the revolt. The efforts of progressivism were notorious for trying to make the insurrectionary masses yield to their demands. They composed horrendous hymns (such as the outrage to Victor Jara’s “El derecho de vivir en paz”), they made videos for social media, introduced themselves into assembly spaces, and so on.
It also becomes evident that the demand for a new constitution is more typical of traditional political parties in the context of a political crisis than a spontaneous demand of the general population. It is necessary to dismantle the mythology that the left of capital is constructing about the revolt. For them, it would correspond to an explosion of discontent of the middle classes, peaceful in general, which was tainted by violent acts (such as looting, mainly) organised by ultra-leftists, lumpen and drug gangs. For them the logical consequence of this situation was the constituent process, which supposedly lost because of right-wing fake news or widespread political immaturity.
Q: Isn’t that a bit too simple, to stick to the absolute maximum demand, revolt and social revolution (which we obviously sympathise with)? One could also say that the constitution improves the situation of the proletarians in some places, as well as the laws of the bourgeoisie and the state. A new constitution or the end of Chilean neoliberalism seemed to be at the centre of the movement. So again, in a different way, does your critique refer to the concrete process of constitution-making or to the goal of a new constitution itself? What majorities and possibilities were and are there for revolutionary politics; even the revolutionary left missed opportunities to position itself more strongly during the revolt and to get involved in the process. How did you, as revolutionaries, get involved in the process after the revolt?
VHLV: A common justification of the reformist path is to accuse people of maximalism wherever the possibility of a revolutionary rupture is raised. As we have argued above, the draft new constitution in no way guaranteed any improvement in the conditions of subsistence, either immediate or long-term, of the proletariat in general. This does not mean that the majority of the population understood the proposal in these same terms, but neither did they manage to see in it a concrete solution. Different historical reference points of the socialist movement (from its most hesitant to its most radical variants) already drew some crucial lessons about these processes more than a century ago, particularly in reference to the revolutionary wave of 1848, highlighting the futility of the pretence of introducing important and significant changes in society through the making of a constitution, if the “real forces that rule the country” are not also modified . In this framework, our critique of the Chilean constituent process is nourished by discussions and experiences operating at different levels.
The origin of this process, which is to be found in a closed-door pact of the Chilean political elite, with the explicit aim of ‘putting out the fire’ of the revolt , should be clearly pointed out. Since it was in the hands of the official parties to work out the constitutional process, its scope was already limited from the outset and subordinated to their interests.
So we criticise the process both for the need to clarify the historical and fundamental role of the state machinery, and for the specifically reactionary character of the process in Chile and its practical impossibility of offering significant, or even minor, improvements in the living conditions of our class.
Our reasoning is as follows: we are not interested in propagating absolute ideas behind which the masses and their experiences of struggle have to bend. Our position is contingent: it tries to discern the real possibilities of improving our living conditions. The legalist path demands integration, or at least domestication to some degree, with respect to capitalist institutionality, which automatically corrodes the relative autonomy of the struggles for demands, which in turn is the guarantee of achieving those demands. Entering the field of bourgeois legality with the pretence of achieving real goals undermines the only source of strength that can get immediate improvements from the state and the employers. This is not a pure abstraction. These three years have provided examples of this dynamic.
Firstly, the Territorial Assemblies, bodies that were beginning to become nuclei that organised social activity in the territories (generating spaces for meetings, conversation, artistic expression, the setting out of demands and struggles, methods of struggle, solidarity against repression, etc.), were soon shattered from within, both by the imposition of legal debates and by the growing mutual distrust that began to be generated by the fact that, in the back rooms, candidacies started being offered. The Territorial Assemblies were thus reduced to electoral propaganda bodies. One of the most radical and profound expressions to emerge during the revolt was being diluted and fragmented, and all its time was being devoted to the electoral agenda. Even so, for the first time in the constituent elections, electoral pacts were allowed to be formed outside the officially registered parties.
The results of these elections also came as something of a surprise. The right-wing parties and the former Concertación faced a resounding electoral failure, while the large vote of the now almost forgotten “People’s List”, made up of people who were effectively linked to the demonstrations and outside traditional party politics, stood out, together with a high vote for other pacts arising from the so-called ‘social movements’. The aforementioned ¨People’s List¨ announced after its victory that it would not sit down to negotiate until there was an effective response to the political imprisonment of hundreds of people. This announcement came to nothing. The list quickly disintegrated to the sound of national scandals, such as that of Rodrigo Rojas Vade , who based his campaign on being a cancer patient, which turned out to be a lie, and mafia-type conflicts within it.
So, although the very delegitimisation of traditional politics was reflected in electoral events with historic levels of participation, the inability to generate confidence in real change increasingly eroded the image of the Constitutional Convention and left-wing groups. At the same time these groups played a leading role in the demobilisation of the streets (there was no need to dirty the constituent process or “play into the hands of the right”) and in the disappearance of autonomous class bodies, eliminating any discussion that wasn’t about the electoral agenda or the constitutional debate. In this sense, the making of the electoral defeat of this path was underway.
In general, the political left-wingers, even those who define themselves as revolutionary, and a broad spectrum of anarchism, succumbed without resistance and willingly to the democratic entrapment, which clearly revealed itself for what it was. In this sense, the left of capital synthesised and clarified its historical role as an agent of the preservation of capitalist relations. Theoretical poverty and an inability to assimilate the historical lessons became evident amongst many comrades. Faced with the question of the possibilities of a revolutionary deepening of the movement, the very concept of revolution in the present context was under discussion at the time and still is today. This discussion cannot be the same as it was a century ago. We do not argue that in a couple of months, the movement would have finally defeated capitalism and established a socialist idyll if there had not been a ‘betrayal’ or ‘deception’ of the politicians. We rather argue that the perspectives of a radical critique of capital must strive to make the real functions of certain institutions and processes visible. During the time of the movement it was entirely possible to strengthen autonomous networks of experiences of struggle that were on the rise, to obtain concrete improvements in many areas (several, if not all, of the more specific demands were possible within the framework of the 1980s constitution), to bring down the government and further undermine the legitimacy of the Congress, among other activities. At the beginning of the revolt the radical sectors saw many of their ideas expressed in the multiplicity of slogans, chants and actions on thousands of walls, banners and meeting places, which made explicit a conscious and general rejection of capitalist normality. Despite this the radicals were also unable, for reasons that will continue to be discussed, to contribute to the maintenance of this spirit and prevent the course of the democratic institutional path, beyond having the lucidity of warning.
To speak of our participation, we must clarify that those of us who were active as Vamos Hacia la Vida are a small group of comrades living in different cities and towns in Chile. But we participated in the same instances in which thousands of other people throughout the territory invested their energies. We attended demonstrations, resisted police and military repression, participated in various territorial assemblies, tried to make propaganda and generate spaces for meeting and debate beyond the current situation, printed leaflets, posters and bulletins. We participated in supply networks and support groups for the political prisoners of the revolt. Perhaps what was most successful at one point or another was the promotion of discussion in the radical milieu.
The revolt opened a cycle of struggles that today faces a counter-revolutionary wave but which has not been completely closed, even less so considering the context of generalised and global crisis. The impressive Chilean social revolt was one of the manifestations of precisely this global crisis.
Q: After the rejection of the draft constitution, there were massive protests in the first week. Who took to the streets and what were their demands?
VHLV: Indeed, after the victory of the rejection there were protests during the first week. They were to a certain extent massive, but, above all, they had a strong component of diffuse violence that made them more visible. It should be noted, however, that these protests took place mainly in the capital, Santiago, and that the rest of Chile did not witness a similar degree of protest and confrontational discontent. The main participants were young people, initially and to a greater extent, secondary school students and, later and to a lesser extent, university students – who effectively joined under the slogan of carrying out a ‘real’ Constituent Assembly. The marches were sometimes joined by people of more proletarian background, older people or even families, demonstrators who simply wanted to confront the police, or those who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to get free goods if looting took place.
However, to say what the demands of these protests were, becomes somewhat complicated, as many of the protesters were not necessarily there for any clear and overt reason. It can be said that there was indeed discontent about the results of the vote, which initially motivated people to take to the streets to protest for at least a week. The progressive bourgeoisie had promised major changes through institutional channels, which would be expressed in the implementation of a new constitution for the country. When this institutional path failed, and the new constitution was not implemented, many people took to the streets to retake what they intuitively felt was one of the main lessons that the revolt of the 18th and 19th of October had left in their memory: that their strength lay in violent subversion against the current order and not in institutional dispute. Thus, many also went out with the intention of replicating those radical practices that had been successful in generating a rupture with capitalist everyday life during the revolt, such as blocking streets and underground tracks, or jumping turnstiles, evading the payment of fares in a collective manner. It is true that a portion of these demonstrators raised slogans about the formation of a new Constituent Assembly (and of course, this time more ‘democratic’, ‘popular’, and ‘real’ than the previous one), but this did not gain mass support, neither in the streets nor in social organisations or ultra-left groups; only the left of capital debated internally how to negotiate a new process with the right.
It is also worth mentioning that this type of mobilisation has taken place almost without interruption throughout the year. It was mainly led by secondary school students, expressing, as we have already mentioned, a generalised weariness, but accentuated by the deficiencies and multiple problems associated with the return to face-to-face classes after two years of confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They addressed the structural shortcomings of many establishments, administrative disorganisation, poor food services, a climate of school violence related to the extension of the school day (in several petitions the demand for the end of the “full school day” or its reduction in hours is repeated), amongst other things. These mobilisations have resulted in daily confrontations with the police, in some cases with the military . We have seen takeovers of schools, massive days of mobilisations in various cities, and, for example, in the case of Santiago, interventions in which students rebuke the mayor of Santiago, Irací Hassler, of the Communist Party, for continuing and increasing the persecution and repression of secondary school students. In previous periods, when the right wing was in charge of the area, the repression had been denounced by the same politicians that now execute it.
Q: Many leftists in Germany (and Europe) also looked forward to the election of the new constitution and praised the “most progressive” constitution in the world. A few months earlier, the former student leader Boric came to power. Here there were similar reactions, the new government was described as feminist and a great ray of hope for the left in Latin America. How do you assess the first months of Boric’s government?
VHLV: The first thing to point out is that Boric has always played the role of a fireman and worked towards the containment of the most radical expressions within the student movement from which he comes. And today, with the reins of the state, he has fulfilled a similar role: the Boric administration did not take long to show a brutal continuity with the previous government both in terms of repression and in the implementation of policies that favour capitalist restructuring to the detriment of our already precarious living conditions. And it cannot be otherwise, since we must not forget that Boric was a key player in the management of the counter-revolutionary “Agreement for Social Peace and the New Constitution” signed on the 15th of November 2019. This was meant to channel the power of the revolt within the framework of institutionality and initiate a process of capitalist restoration whose central axis was to create a new Constitution. Today we suffer all its consequences in all their rawness. None of his campaign promises, many of them structural reforms, have been implemented and there is no indication that they will become reality in the near future. This is due to his coalition betting everything on “carrying out the great transformations that Chile needs” after a supposed electoral victory in the plebiscite of the 4th of September, which as we already know not only did not happen but was a resounding failure. This has generated tensions within the government, above all with the “Communist” Party, but it has also provoked great disappointment and paralysis on the left that supported it ‘critically’, and which has a certain presence in some social movements.
In concrete terms, on the eve of the third anniversary of the revolt the government affirmed that “for the moment” it will not renew the amnesty bill for the political prisoners of the 2019 rebellion, many of whom have already been sentenced to very harsh prison terms. They announced this through Camila Vallejo, the ministerial spokesperson. Nor have repressive measures such as the “Anti-sabotage and anti-barricade law” (Law 21.208) been repealed, and the State Security Law continues to be applied selectively, as happened with the spokesperson of the Coordinator of Communities in Conflict Arauco Malleco-CAM, Héctor Llaitul, who is in pre-trial detention. The uninterrupted continuation of the state of emergency in what they call the “southern macro-zone”, with the military deployed in strategic sectors, means a direct criminalisation of the autonomous Mapuche movement, which is treated as an internal enemy, but which nevertheless is not intimidated and continues to fight directly against the state.
On the other hand, the government’s ‘iron fist’ discourse against crime and ‘illegal’ migration isn’t much different to the most reactionary ultra-right’s. Boric’s ultimatum to foreigners in an irregular situation in the Chilean region was “either they regularise their status or they leave.” In addition the government ordered the construction of ditches on the border with Bolivia to “contain the migratory crisis” (as the right-wing Kast proposed during his campaign, which at the time was criticised and ridiculed by the left, who even nicknamed him “El zanjas” (the ditch). “We are going to be dogs in the pursuit of crime”, Boric vociferated, while the government is already studying the implementation of ‘Mexican strategies’ – with all that this implies – to combat growing criminality. Added to all this is the derisory reform of the Carabineros, which boils down to a reduction in recruitment requirements: people of smaller stature, with tattoos, flat feet or cavities will now be able to become police officers. The government’s support for the Carabineros has been unconditional, and in this sense, hundreds of cases of police violence during the uprising, including torture, sexual abuse and murder, have gone completely unpunished. This state policy is also expressed in the presentation of more than 74 lawsuits filed by the Ministry of the Interior so far this year. Most of these target high school students who have not stopped fighting in the streets and high schools, despite the repressive action of the police forces of the Public Order Control (COP).
There are more examples of the line that Boric’s government has taken. For example, his government approved in principle the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP11), which is opposed by various social organisations – and which Boric himself opposed a few years ago – because it deepens the devastating model of extractivist accumulation, privatises the use of seeds, and suspends the labour legislation, among other harmful consequences; his government also recently presented a ‘pension reform’ bill, which does nothing to question the fundamentals of the exhausted pension system represented by the Administradoras de Fondos de Pensiones (AFP – privatised pension funds, introduced by Pinochet), which delivers starvation pensions, maintains the transfer of workers’ contributions to the big economic groups, and does not even come close to something resembling a ‘social security system’ existing in most developed capitalist countries.
Q: In Colombia, a new left-wing government came to power with the ‘historic pact’, the ‘Pacto Histórico’. Lula could become president again in Brazil and in Chile, there is also a ‘left’ government at the helm of the country with Boric. Many people, both in Latin America and in Europe, expect the new left governments to change many things. How do you see this evolution?
VHLV: In reality, except in the leftist milieu that has always opted for the electoral route, we do not see great popular enthusiasm for these processes, nor do we see the rise of charismatic figures as we did decades ago. Even in the first wave of progressive governments at the beginning of the 21st century, it was possible to perceive a greater popular mobilisation behind them, especially in Bolivia, where MAS effectively brought together a large part of the social movement and Evo was a recognised figure. The centre-left governments in Chile, in any case, particularly those of Lagos and Bachelet, were far removed from the Latin American progressivism best represented by Evo Morales, Lula, Chávez, Mujica or Kirchner, since they never raised a leftist discourse of the tone of the other governments, and were openly neoliberal. The current electoral processes are taking place in a climate of uncertainty and generalised despair (the same climate that led to the defeat of “Apruebo”). These governments do not offer anything very new. Some, such as the Colombian case, have updated themselves on issues of integration, promoting gender parity in the state apparatus and appointing, for example, Francia Márquez to the vice-presidency, the second woman and first Afro-descendant to hold the post. But Petro’s first words after being elected were clear: “We are going to develop capitalism in Colombia. Not because we love it. But because our first task is to overcome pre-modernity in Colombia, feudalism, and modern slavery”. This analysis, which was already fundamentally wrong a century ago when it was promoted by the worst versions of Marxism and social democracy, is today, apart from being anachronistic in its own terms, terribly dangerous, because, in countries like ours, it means mainly the unchallenged increase in the exploitation and degradation of ‘natural resources’. But Petro is transparent in the ideological premises and government plans of these renewed progressivisms, some of which have opportunistically benefited from the latest large-scale social uprisings, notably in Chile and Colombia (2019 and 2020 respectively). And these premises are the pretence of developing a small national industry, an objective that soon after being in government is thrown into the dustbin, replaced by the promotion of foreign investment mainly in the area of natural resource exploitation, promising a more stable social climate thanks, on the one hand, through co-option, and on the other, based on more or less disguised repression.
The recent history of Latin America and its development subordinated to big transnational capital can be understood from the restructuring of the 1970s. The crisis of capital in those years already showed symptoms of the exhaustion of an ‘over-productive’ productive system. The recession of those years, therefore, required a restructuring that would get rid of the contradictions accumulated during the post-WWII years with its ‘golden age’ of accumulation and the consensus between capital and labour called Keynesianism – evidently only possible in the centres of capital accumulation. In this sense, the neoliberal onslaught for the countries of Latin America (but not only for them) was linked to two phenomena that explain our current situation: the financing of infrastructures necessary for the exploitation of resources (raw materials and agro-industry), creating a large external debt with the IMF, albeit unequal between countries; and the proletarianisation of the peasantry that flooded the process of capital valorisation in this region with cheap labour. The countries of the ‘third world’ or ‘global south’ as they are often called, are in the situation they are in, as a result of the IMF’s hold on the region – liberalisation of resources and structural cuts. ‘Underdevelopment’ cannot be overcome by processes of ‘neo-developmentalism’, since the current crisis of capital is shown as a fierce competition in the commercial realm between China and the USA and subsequent imperialist wars. It therefore implies a geopolitical reordering of big capital, which, however, reveals the total global interdependence: current events are nothing more than the expression of US hegemony in decline.
There are now clear signs of industrial slowdown, or outright de-industrialisation , which means that a project of ‘late industrialisation’ is doomed to failure – and we have considered it a failed project for more than 50 years.  This condemns these regions to a subordinate role in the value chain as producers of raw materials. The role of some raw materials (such as copper and lithium) is crucial for a supposed ‘energy transition’, which is why capitalist projects in the region will undoubtedly manifest themselves in a greater subordination to the dictates of ‘green imperialism’, which left-wing governments have adopted to obtain profits  at the cost of land destruction and the displacement of indigenous and rural communities. Moreover, this does not translate into an improvement in the living conditions of the proletariat, quite the contrary: proletarianisation is deepening in the midst of a crisis in which it is increasingly difficult to find formal work, wages are being eroded by inflation, organised crime is growing, and social decomposition is increasing considerably, etc.
But, above all, history has shown us that the state is not a neutral organ that can be filled with emancipatory content, that depends on the goodwill and management of individuals. The state is the organisation of capital as the guarantor-mediator of class relations and the reproduction of capital. In the current crisis, we consider the state to be an exhausted institution, incapable of carrying out minimally progressive transformations – this phenomenon was only possible for the post-WWII centres of capitalist accumulation and is currently disintegrating as a result of the crisis. We consider these democratic illusions to be dangerous because the defence of the state and of a national project can lead to a neo-fascism within the proletariat in the face of a lasting state of crisis. The new ‘pink tide’ in Latin America, faced with a situation of generalised world crisis, does not have many options, and so far the governments have been quite pragmatic, maintaining (and deepening in the case of Chile) neo-liberal policies, and improving the repressive apparatus to suffocate the ‘formless’ class struggle, while demobilising sectors of the proletariat in their most immediate demands, accusing them of ‘playing into the hands of the right’ , all in defence of democracy and national progress.
 The “Agreement for Social Peace and the New Constitution” signed on the 15th of November 2019 established the holding of a series of electoral events starting with an initial plebiscite (initially set for the 26th of April 2020, but later postponed to the 25th of October due to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the territory), with a voluntary vote, to decide whether to initiate a constituent process for the drafting of a new Constitution, with “I approve” and “I reject” such an initiative being the options to choose from. In addition, a vote had to be taken on the type of body that would eventually draft it: a “Mixed Constitutional Convention”, composed in equal parts of popularly elected members and sitting parliamentarians; or a “Constitutional Convention”, composed exclusively of popularly elected members. The latter option was supported by the left in general. The “I approve” option for a new Constitution won with a categorical 78.27% of the preferences, while the “Constitutional Convention” option (presented by some on the left as equivalent to a Constituent Assembly, which generated some debate), as the body responsible for drafting it, obtained 78.99% of the votes. This was followed by the election days for the Constituent Assembly, held on the 15th and 16th of May 2021, with relatively surprising results: a heavy defeat for the traditional right and part of the centre-left that made up the former Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia (which alternated power with the right after the end of the Dictatorship), while the so-called ‘People’s List’, which brought together people effectively linked to the revolt, was surprisingly close to a third of the seats. Finally, the process ended with the holding of the exit plebiscite on the 4th of September, in which once again a choice had to be made between the alternatives “I approve” and “I reject” the text drawn up by the Constitutional Convention, which was the first election with a compulsory vote since the Electoral Register was reformed (2008). www.bcn.cl/procesoconstituyente/plebiscito2020
 “Each of the member companies of the Consejo Minero has a production of more than 50,000 tons of fine copper per year, or an economically equivalent amount in other metals.”
 Even some intellectuals with a favourable stance towards the new constitution, such as the Argentinian Roberto Gargarella, claimed that there is “an obsession with the incorporation of ‘new rights’, which ends up expressed in a list of rights (the Bill of Rights) that expands and renews itself at the expense of – and with its back to – an organisation of power (the ‘engine room’) that remains the same. The institutional structure is still too much in line with the ‘traditional’ model (powers concentrated in the president, a Senate – now the Chamber of Regions – that is still strong, a somewhat old-fashioned judiciary that is ‘renewed’ with a Council of Magistrates, for example). These difficulties are by no means alien to the 1980 Constitution. Therefore, and contrary to what its critics say, the risk is not that of a ‘revolution of rights’, but that these rights will not come to life in practice, as they remain dependent on the discretion of the president and the old powers. The constitutional problem in question, therefore, is due to ‘too little’, not ‘too much’: not that it went ‘too far’, but that it remained ‘too close’.”
We recommend reading the first issue of the publication “No Turning Back Now” (December 2019), whose main text was entitled “Constituent Convention or Autonomous Territorial Assemblies?”. https://hacialavida.noblogs.org/boletin-ya-no-hay-vuelta-atras-reflexiones-sobre-la-revuelta/
Lasalle concludes that “drafting a written Constitution was the least important, the least urgent” compared to the work of “modifying and shifting the real and effective factors of power present in the country”. That was what “had to be done, so that the written constitution that would follow would be more than just a piece of paper”. That is why [Lasalle’s] lecture concludes by recommending to the audience: “if you are ever again in the position of having to give yourselves a Constitution, I hope that you will already know how these things are done, and that you will not limit yourselves to writing and signing a piece of paper, leaving the real forces that rule the country untouched”. Quote taken from “La ilusión constituyente” (http://carcaj.cl/la-ilusion-constituyente/), text included in the dossier “Democracy is the order of capital. Apuntes contra la trampa constituyente”, published as a special issue of the publication “Ya No Hay Vuelta Atrás”, October 2020. https://hacialavida.noblogs.org/revista-la-democracia-es-el-orden-del-capital-apuntes-contra-la-trampa-constituyente-n-especial-ya-no-hay-vuelta-atras-octubre-2020/
“Anyone who saw Chernobyl knows that this kind of explosion must be confined, not extinguished. And confining it means channelling it, through some procedure. In this sense, the constituent process, which is already playing a relevant role, is very important”. Eugenio Tironi (former Concertación government official and consultant, 18th of January 2020, https://www.biobiochile.cl/especial/reportajes//entrevistas-reportajes/2020/01/18/eugenio-tironi-nos-salvamos-todos-o-nos-ahogamos-todos-vivimos-en-peligro.html
“I knew it was not a perfect agreement, but it was the best alternative available for the difficult circumstances we were in. Was there a better counterfactual? Was there really any other reasonable alternative? The November pact, with all its difficulties, made it possible to give a channel to the October outburst, enabling continuity instead of rupture, institutionality instead of chaos, reform instead of revolution”. Gonzalo Blumel, then Minister of the Interior. https://www.theclinic.cl/2021/11/15/a-dos-anos-del-15n-que-recuerdan-14-protagonistas-del-acuerdo-que-cambio-el-rumbo-del-pais/
See: Benanav, Aaron (2021) La automatización y el futuro del trabajo. Madrid: Traficantes de sueños. / Automation and the Future of Work, Verso: https://www.versobooks.com/en-gb/products/2682-automation-and-the-future-of-work
The only country that achieved some degree of industrial development in Latin America was Brazil, which has the worst performance among the BRICS in terms of GDP, in addition to a very high percentage of informal work, the consequences of a development model that has been exhausted since the 1970s. See: “Perdemos!: Qualquer que seja o resultado da votação de domingo, perdemos”. https://passapalavra.info/2022/10/146248/
AMLO in Mexico nationalised lithium, for example.
In Brazil, these movements have even been integrated through clientelistic relationships.