By Andres Kogan Valderrama
HAVANA TIMES – The recent declarations of former Chilean president Sebastian Piñera, in which he repeated in both Argentina and Spain, allegeh that in 2019 his government suffered an attempted non-traditional coup d’etat. This represents not only an immense opportunism on his part to gain international visibility, but also a dangerous affirmation that relativizes, banalizes, and drains meaning from the concept of a coup, especially considering that this year marks 50 years from the bombing of la Moneda Presidential Palace and the beginning of a harsh 17-year dictatorship.
Beginning there, it’s shameful for a former Chilean leader to compare what happened in 2019 with what occurred in 1973, as if they were two similar events which could be put on the same level, when in fact they are very different processes. A social explosion has no relation to a coup d’etat, which directly involves the armed forces, as occurred on that September 11, 1973.
This assertion in no way seeks to justify the multiple violent actions of certain groups during the 2019 disturbances, when setting fire to places, looting businesses, and the destroying public infrastructure all over the country became fairly common occurrences. However, there was no conspiratorial planning behind these actions, as perhaps Piñera believes, in which one group wants to take over the State by assault.
On the contrary, the 2019 disturbances in Chile – just as many others in different places in the world – were chiefly a manifestation of massive public discontent and different demands, mostly peaceful, which synthesized decades of unrest, in the absence of any political leader or specific sector to appropriate or coopt the public grievances.
For the same reason, before hurling baseless and thoughtless accusations, the ex-President should have analyzed the causes of the social discontent, which were centered on abuses, inequality, over indebtedness of Chilean families in order to live, and the incapacity of the institutional system to resolve them.
Let’s not forget that after the coordinated, criminal attack against the Santiago Metro in 2019 – for which, even now, almost no one has been held responsible – Sebastian Piñera, in an unheard-of way, instilled the idea of a highly powerful internal enemy and of a war. In this way, he generated the conditions for decreeing a curfew and paved the way to the human rights violations that were produced in that period, violations documented by international organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Hence, Piñera’s declarations represent not only a total lack of self-criticism, without assuming any political responsibility in terms of human rights for the 2019 events, but they also play into the hands of the [Chilean] Republican Party and close off the possibility of having a democratic right-wing in Chile, which would always rise to its defense whatever the contexts and historic circumstances.
At the same time, with his declarations, Piñera reinforced the ultra-right wing conspiracy theory that holds that what happened in 2019 was planned and carried out by the Communist Party, with international support from governments like Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia. All of this leads us backwards to the so-called Plan Z of 1973, that accused Salvador Allende of supposedly having prepared a self-coup to remain in power forever.
Nothing could be further from reality than the idea that these events – [the Allende administration] prior to 1973, as well as [the social uprising] of 2019 – were supposed attempts at a Coup, considering that the ones who violated human rights were precisely those who were pushing these ideas. Such theories only seek to justify the persecutions, the mutilations, the tortures, and the deaths, negating the possibility of coming to an agreement as a society over something as minimal and basic to our coexistence as a country.
It could be said that many leftist governments have also violated human rights, and that they continue doing so, which is true, as in the case of the countries mentioned above. But that doesn’t mean that historic lies can be accepted when they have no basis at all or empirical evidence to sustain them.
Thus, in the face of the lack of a democratic right wing, the unity of leftists, progressives, social movements, and citizen organizations becomes a fundamental necessity. Without a Constitutional change – as is likely to be the case, be it because we vote against it in December, or in the end the plebiscite is never realized – it’s not the moment to mark our differences, but to join together for the defense of certain democratic minimums.