Feminists and original peoples orient our steps

Feminists and Mapuches march in Antofagasta, Chile. Photo: Sandra Cuffe.

By: Raúl Zibechi

The streets of Santiago, Chile remain occupied by thousands of people who don’t abandon them, despite the repression and not because of the pact signed between the government and the opposition to demobilize the protests. We’re talking about the “Agreement for peace and the new Constitution,” which does not guaranty either one or the other and is a showing that politicians continue turning their backs on the population.

On November 14, all the parties of the left and the right, with the exception of the Communist Party, signed an agreement that foresees that in April 2020 a plebiscite will be held in which the population will decide if it wants a new Constitution and if the conventional ones will be half parliamentary and half elected or if everyone should be elected. It also requires that it will take two thirds to approve the agreements.

On the left, the Socialist Party, the Party for Democracy, the Democratic Revolution and the Broad Front signed it, from which dozens of leaders fled who thought that: “it’s essentially contrary to the demands that the different and diverse demonstrations have enunciated in the streets of Chile.”

As is happening in the principle conflicts throughout Latin America, feminists and Native peoples have been the ones who have named the facts most clearly and forcefully.

A communiqué from the Feminist Coordinator 8M rejects the impunity and assures: “this agreement saves a criminal government that has ruled with bloody hands from its own crisis.” It blames President Sebastián Piñera for deaths, mutilations, sexual political violence, torture, kidnappings and disappearances.

The feminists assure that the call for a constituyente in these conditions “is for a new Congress tailored to the parties, tailored to those who caused this crisis and who have administered the precariousness of our lives. They argue that the ultimate goal of the agreement is to remove them from the streets to “become spectators once again.”

The Mapuche world is expressed through three organizations, at least: the Mapuche Territorial Alliance, the Koz Koz parliament and the Mapuexpress information collective.

This collective makes a recap of the damage provoked by the repression, highlighting sexual violence and torture. Therefore it emphasizes that the “peace agreement” was signed within the context of State terrorism, through application of the Internal Security Law of the Pinochet dictatorship. The greatest risk is that the political-business forces that supported the dictatorship and became the majority of Parliament in the democracy end up being the ones who write the new Constitution.

With that name, the Mapuche Koz Koz Parliament commemorates the historic gathering that the Mapuche communities held in the zone of Panguipulli (province of Valdivia) shortly after the end of the war of Chilean military occupation of the territory. Its communiqué assures that the agreement “bets on demobilization and moves away from the possibility of real change.”

It values that it would deal with confusing social movements, since “it only seeks to create a base to continue usurping power.” The Territorial Alliance, for its part, calls to construct an assembly of nations and movements, which can be similar to the indigenous and popular parliament of Ecuador, since it proposes itself as a space for permanent articulation among social organizations.

In my view, the irruption of Native peoples and feminists is modifying the old political culture with greater depth than any ideological debate. The impact is very high and not easy to measure. It offers us a clue that the Mapuche flag is the one most waved on demonstrations and that now no one accepts depending on hierarchical organizational structures, or bends before strong men (caudillos).

Anti-patriarchal women and indigenous peoples teach us the value of collective leadership, rejecting left-wing caciques, the parties and vanguardism.

The priority for organized and mobilized people is the construction of their own secure spaces, with face to face relations of mutual trust, which is of greater importance than abstract programs that have little utility, since when the time comes to put them into action, those same caudillos who wrote them set them aside. The open councils are going in that direction.

As the speeches of Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Rita Segato, María Galindo and Women Creating teach, as well as sectors of the Conaie and of Ecuadorian women, there is an explicit rejection of the macho-vanguardist culture of investing all forces to annihilate the enemy.

Since the Zapatista Uprising we debate whether we have to occupy the State to change the world. They ran the debate. An anti-patriarchal and anti-colonial way of doing politics is being born.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, November 22, 2019


Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





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