August 25, 2011
According to Euronews, the riots now taking place in Chile are related to a demand for “free education.” Education, however, is only one of a number of demands made by workers as they participate in a 48-hour national strike. Chilean unions demand that tax reform be imposed on transnational corporations, international consortia, and the wealthy elite to address social problems caused by decades of globalism. They also want to change the country’s social security system that has left millions of elderly people and pensioners impoverished. For details, see Six reasons for Chile’s nationwide strike.
Following the CIA orchestrated coup in Chile that overthrew a democratically elected president and installed the military dictator General Augusto Pinochet, “free market” economic prescriptions formulated by the Milton Friedman-style neoliberal “Chicago Boys” were imposed on the country. “The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has disclosed that CIA collaborators helped plan the economic measures that Chile’s junta enacted immediately after seizing power,” the Chilean economist Orlando Letelier wrote in 1976, shortly before he was assassinated by Pinochet’s secret police, the DINA (a paid CIA asset).
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
As journalist Greg Palast noted in 2006, Pinochet was credited with the “Miracle of Chile” that was “just another fairy tale.” In fact, the CIA’s neoliberal agenda resulted in widespread unemployment and an increase in poverty. Pinochet and the CIA “abolished the minimum wage, outlawed trade union bargaining rights, privatized the pension system, abolished all taxes on wealth and on business profits, slashed public employment, privatized 212 state industries and 66 banks and ran a fiscal surplus,” Palast writes.
The so-called “Miracle of Chile” was in fact a neoliberal experiment that would be applied elsewhere in South America. “In 1998, the international finance Gang of Four – the World Bank, the IMF, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Bank for Settlements – offered a $41.5 billion line of credit to Brazil. But before the agencies handed the drowning nation a life preserver, they demanded Brazil commit to swallow the economic medicine that nearly killed Chile. You know the list: fire-sale privatizations, flexible labor markets (i.e. union demolition) and deficit reduction through savage cuts in government services and social security,” Palast writes.
The marches and scattered riots taking place in Santiago and elsewhere in Chile are a response to the neoliberal agenda imposed on the country regardless of the will of the people.
The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves,” said Henry Kissinger following the CIA coup. I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.”