By Roberto Herrera
The last time I set foot on the streets of Santiago was precisely in October 2019, a week before the social eruption of a town began that for more than four decades had been suffering the most negative and anti-popular consequences of the economic model sponsored by the American economist Milton. Friedman, 1976 Nobel Prize winner for economics and apologist for monetarism, an economic policy that, according to him, constitutes the fundamental basis for the construction of a stable economy that guarantees sustained growth and political-economic development.
According to Friedman’s theory, the role of the state at the economic level would be limited to controlling the formation of monopolies, whose existence inevitably generates an imbalance in market relations, and in the enactment of low taxes and customs duties. Economic theory opposed to Keynesianism, an economic paradigm whose fiscal-economic policies require the necessary and indispensable intervention of the state.
The monetarism-neoliberal of the Chicago School was applied both in the United States and in the United Kingdom in the decade of the seventies of the last century, to later be imposed throughout Europe. However, it is important to point out that the economic results of the monetarist experience obtained during those years in both countries demonstrated the ineffectiveness of neoliberal monetarist policies for the effective and fairer redirection of the national economy.
However, it was in Chile, after the military coup had been perpetrated against the Popular Unity government chaired by Salvador Allende Gossens that Milton Friedman’s theories could be “finally” carried out “to the nines.” The military dictatorship guaranteed manu militarithat Milton Friedman’s group of Chilean economist self-disciples known as the “Chicago Boys” had the manus free to make and break the Chilean economy piecemeal.
Yes Michael Jordan, Scottie Pieppen, Dennis Rodman and Artis Gilmore were part of the glorious Chicago Bulls, the famous North American basketball team of the nineties of the last century, the Chilean economists subservient to the military dictatorship Sergio de Castro, Jorge Cauas , Pablo Baraona and Roberto Kelly were the four most prominent “Chicago Bulls Shit” in the military government during the period from 1973 to 1990.
The close link between the “Chicago Bulls Shit” and the military dictatorship was not accidental or fortuitous, since these economists were fully identified politically and ideologically with the military dictatorship, and, moreover, Miltonian neoliberal monetarism was on the rise in those years.
Following the instructions of the Chicago school, the military dictatorship carried out structural changes or reforms in the national economy that strongly impacted the working class. I name only two here: The Labor Plan of 1979 that seriously affected and limited the management capacity of workers with the employer and the pension system that lost the character of “social security” and became an “individual capitalization” administered and managed by private companies, the so-called “Pension Fund Administrators” (AFP).
In short, the monetarist policies applied by the military dictatorship and continued by the different concertationist governments did not have the success expected by Mr. Friedman, on the contrary, Chile suffered at the end of the eighties two of the biggest crises of the country. its history, to such an extent that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had to intervene in the Chilean political economy.
In other words, the Chilean people, the “guinea pig” of the monetarist neoliberal laboratory, suffered for more than four decades (1973-2019) the bias of the capitalist monetarist and neoliberal policy. While it is true that Chile has generated great wealth ─for a few─, it has also produced great poverty in the great anonymous mass. Now, it is not my interest or my intention to discredit in this essay the economic theories of Milton Friedman, but rather to highlight the negative consequences that these policies had and have on the Chilean working class. Well, in short, it was not the Nobel economist who bled the Chilean people, but the military dictatorship and the recalcitrant Chilean oligarchy.
It is in this political-economic framework that the first outbreaks of popular resistance (the “penguin revolution”) emerged, reflected in the large demonstrations in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011 of high school students, called “penguins” because of their uniform. navy blue-white school bag.
Thus we come to 2019, the year in which the discontent of the Chilean people explodes and in Wuhan, China erupts with violence and speed the corona virus SARS-CO-V2. Once again, the Chilean people took over the Alamedas and the streets of that bloody Santiago of the seventies of the last century and did not abandon them to date, despite the presence of the invisible viral enemy that also invaded the country from north to south.
Hundreds of thousands of Chileans, side by side, have expressed daily since then their rage, contained for decades and their political-social-economic satiety at the neoliberal monetarist policies promoted and sustained by the different right-wing and concertationist governments. The historical anger of the Chilean people in the times of the corona virus manifested in the political-social struggle despite state repression and the threat of COVID, has been the manager of this great triumph of the popular candidate of the political alliance Approve Dignity, Gabriel Boric. Electoral victory, which could have a significant impact on Latin America and the world. I would not be surprised if Chile became the grave of the neoliberal monetarist economic paradigm.
The massive participation of youth and women was decisive and decisive in the recent presidential elections. Gabriel Boric with his 35 years will become on March 11, 2022 the youngest President in the history of the Republic of Chile. That is to say, it will be the great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of President Salvador Allende who will have the possibility of turning the beautiful Alamedas into the roads where the free man travels. But to achieve this, Gabriel Boric has the titanic task of guaranteeing that the gestation of the new constitution is a diaphanous process, direct and without political commitments, since the new Magna Carta is the condition without which it will not be possible to change the character and structure. of the Chilean state. In addition, it has the duty to create the political-social and economic conditions so that the Mapuche nation and the Chilean people can live and coexist in well-being and dignity.
Anyway, Gabriel Boric has the opportunity to take the “Chicago Bulls Shit” by the horns and abolish the “Pension Fund Administrators” (AFP), guarantee public education and a single health system and make Chile a country better, fairer and more sovereign.
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The anger of Chileans in the days of the corona virus – ContraPunto