World Socialist Website - October 26, 2019

"The police and military are preparing for a massive crackdown. Yesterday, the military called up reservists from the country’s provinces to perform administrative duties that will facilitate the deployment of 15,000 more soldiers to the streets."

Millions of people protesting social inequality and state violence poured into the streets across Chile yesterday in the largest demonstrations in the country’s history.

Stunned Chilean television commenters described the scene as a “human sea,” an “interminable column” and a “carnival of people,” though few were watching the reports because half the adult population of the country was already in the streets. Over one million people descended on Santiago’s Plaza Italia while protesters filled every city in the country.

With yesterday’s demonstrations, the floodtide of international working class struggle rose higher amid a week of explosive social protest. Across the world, workers and youth of all races are demonstrating with the same basic demand: social equality.

In Iraq, the government killed at least 30 people yesterday as protests swelled in Baghdad and in the industrial south. In the African nation of Guinea, one million people marched Thursday against an extension of the president’s term in office. Protests are ongoing in Lebanon, and Haiti while last week saw mass turnouts in Barcelona, Spain and Ecuador.

The working class stood at the head of yesterday’s protests in Chile, with overwhelming participation reported among teachers, miners, dockworkers and other critical sectors.

Truck drivers and taxi drivers blocked the country’s highways and toll roads yesterday and bus drivers walked off the job in Santiago after police murdered a protesting bus driver. Middle school, high school and university youth marched under their school banners across the country. A mile-long caravan of motorcyclists drove through Santiago. Hackers claimed to have published the personal information of every member of the hated Carabinero police.

The demonstrations were not called by any political party and Chilean reporters noted the absence of any party flags or banners in the crowds. The trade union bureaucracies had no visible presence. As El País worried earlier this week, “No political force with representation in congress has been able to channel the social unease.”

The massive turnout came hours after President Sebastían Piñera attempted to placate protesters by announcing an increase in pension fundings. Earlier this week, Piñera rescinded the hated hike of metro fees that initially sparked demonstrations.

As protests swelled, the federal legislature abandoned the congress building in Valparaiso in the afternoon while Piñera maintained a panicked silence. The head of the lower house declared, “This is a high risk situation. I have called for the suspension of legislative activities and I am assuming responsibility for getting everyone out of the building.”

The 20,000 police and military deployed to the streets in the ongoing state of emergency initially pulled back to guard critical government buildings, but began attacking protesters in front of the presidential palace La Moneda in mid-evening. Soon after, the military began deploying to enforce the curfew and were confronted in some locations by angry demonstrators. ...
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