Comments, Globe, In Focus, Latin America

Chile in its labyrinth

There will be a second round of the Chilean presidential elections. The runoff will see the former millionaire president Sebastián Piñera (37%), who represents the centre right, face journalist Alejandro Guillier (23%), an independent from the centre left, who is supported by the outgoing president, Michelle Bachelet.

 

 Pablo Sapag M.

 

Both will have to convince the voters of the other candidates with profiles ranging from the proudly Pinochetist extreme right of José Antonio Kast, to the radical postmodern left of the Broad Front candidate, Beatriz Sánchez, who gained a surprise 20%.

From this perspective – and with these European-style political labels – the second round seems dramatic. A life or death battle between two seemingly different models of society. The reality, however, is different.

If an analysis is to be made from a purely electoral logic and without looking at the context, in the event that they are elected, both Piñera and Guillier will be forced to make fine adjustments to their programmes to satisfy the voters who may lead them to win the second round. That and the absence of clear majorities in Parliament – especially in the Chamber of Deputies – will favour politics of consensus stability over everything that has characterised Chilean politics since 1990.

Consensus, which in reality are not that worthwhile because in practice, those who have been reaching them – and will continue doing so – more or less represent the same thing, except with certain nuances that derive from those European labels that say so little of both this election and a Chilean reality, which is as immutable as it is inscrutable.

In fact, the only relevant figure is that of abstention. Some 53% of Chileans with a right to vote do not do so. A figure that has been rising with each election, since in an outburst typical of the enlightened despotism of the left and right which has always governed Chile, the voluntary vote was imposed to differentiate the country from the rest of Latin America, of which the ruling elite wants to know nothing.

When the measure was implemented, it was done to resemble what Bachelet calls “like-minded countries”, or countries that are on the same wavelength. For the Chilean elite, these are the Nordic countries, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and so on.

From a broader perspective, these are what are known in Chile as OECD countries, which are supposedly the most developed, industrialised and richest in the world. A club that the Chilean elite of the left and right struggled to enter for years; when they are interested, this becomes the yardstick, yet when they are uninterested, Chile is once again a Latin American country.

When approaching the Chilean reality, it is therefore necessary to adjust and, above all, to crosscheck information because the elite that monopolises power is an expert in cheating and projecting a distorted image that has been nicely packaged and consequently bought abroad.

Two days after the election while the system avoided discussions on the extremely poor participation data yet stubbornly justified comparing it with the electoral behaviour of other OECD countries, the OECD itself published a very telling study, which indicates that almost 53% of Chileans are economically vulnerable.

That means that if a Chilean were to lose their job, they would barely be able to sustain themselves for three months as they do not have savings in a country where the State does little and nothing beyond financing its armed forces and police.

This figure is almost identical to the abstention figure. Data that can be explained by understanding that in Vitacura – one of the richest communes in Chile – 70% voted whereas in La Pintana – one of the poorest communes – only 36% voted. The data indicate that in Chile, democracy is reserved for just under 50% of Chileans who do not fall into the category of economically vulnerable.

The question that follows is why, since politics could be the tool to overcome inequalities that according to those measured in the Gini index make Chile the most unjust country in the OECD, and one of twenty most unequal countries in the world.

Here the OECD returns to the rescue. In the same study on the population’s income in relation to the income average, it is revealed that 77% of Chileans are poor or economically vulnerable.

This data, combined with the racial, ethnic and demographic reality of Chile, explains much more than the left and right labels and their nuances in education, health and other topics. In Chile, 80% of the population are mestizos; 10% are indigenous natives from different ethnic groups and the remaining 10% are a cultural array of white Europeans and assimilated.

It is this last group that governs Chile and from which come – if not all than almost all – the candidates in the presidential election, as well as in the elections for the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Bachelet, Pinochet, Frei, Alessandri, Aylwin, Allende Gossens, Guillier, Goic, Kast, Jackson, Sharp, Boric or Mirosevic and some other common Spanish surnames, but held by those of white origin and those who are culturally from Western Europe (Lagos, Sánchez, Piñera, Navarro, Vallejo and some others), monopolise the Chilean politics of yesterday, of today, of always.

In fact, in Chile it is not so much an issue of left or right as it is white and assimilated mestizos; the latter are those which make electoral turnouts close to 50% possible in joining the 10% of whites to barely validate a system whereby the politicians make policies with a thematic agenda that is more western than that of the true Westerners themselves. The others do not even look.

They know that the priorities of the politicians – from economic priorities to ones based on society and values – are so globalised that they do not go with them.

It is a matter of and for culturally Western whites, who in practice and regardless of what they say, will never make real and profound changes to a system whose essence is that inherent inequality from which they benefit, and which allows them to monopolise all power in a Chile where nothing is as it seems.

(Translated by Sydney Sims – Email: sydneyebsims@gmail.com)Photos: Pixabay

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