When most outsiders think of Chile, the first thing that comes to mind are of the scars left by the civilian-military dictatorship. And with good reason: The legacy of Pinochet’s genocidal regime is everywhere — in personal and collective memories, in the country’s privatized institutions like education, and in its profoundly neoliberal constitution, which keeps the Chilean political system shackled to its brutal past and makes left politics exceedingly difficult.
Nevertheless, the legacy of the revolution led by the supporters of Salvador Allende’s socialist government endures, too. Despite opposition from a broad sector of anti-constitutional military leaders and the Chilean oligarchy, popular resistance never died out or gave in — even in the face of the intervention by US president Richard Nixon’s government, which played a key role in the military coup of September 11, 1973.
Daniel Denvir interviewed Daniel Jadue, the mayor of Recoleta, a district located in the Metropolitan Region of Greater Santiago, for the Dig (you can listen to the full-length Spanish-language episode here). Jadue’s administration is building a laboratory for communism of today and of the future, opening a people’s pharmacy and optometrist, along with a beautiful people’s bookstore. Just before this interview was published, Recoleta announced the opening of a people’s record store. All these essential services are provided at low prices, confronting a free market that supposedly self-regulates but which in Chile has only demonstrated how an unregulated market fosters a savage and untamed capitalism.
Jadue is a militant in the Communist Party of Chile and one of the most important figures on the Latin American left. We all have a lot to learn from what is happening in Recoleta, especially since one of the most persistent criticisms of actually existing socialisms has been their supposed administrative failures; their inefficiency in actually serving “the people.” With his successful measures, Jadue defies not just the historical stereotypes and realities but the entire neoliberal order.
In this conversation, Dan talks about the fight in his district and the current political situation in Chile more broadly, including the role of the student movements, the conflict between the Chilean state and the Mapuche people, the powerful feminist movement, the defeat of the center-left New Majority coalition in 2017, the weighty legacy of Pinochet, the current conservative government of Sebastián Piñera, and more.
Read the full transcript from Jacobin here.