The presidential candidacy of Frente Amplio deputy Gabriel Boric, one of the favorites in the polls, faced a new test just nine days before the election. The dilemma came after the Communist Party (PC) and other allied leftist groups published a statement in support of the Daniel Ortega regime and the disputed elections held last Sunday in Nicaragua. “The Nicaraguan people went to the polls en masse to democratically elect their authorities, and they did so in peace, in accordance with their institutional principles and current laws”, says the letter, which rejects the decision of the Chilean Foreign Ministry — along with much of the international community, the ministry did not recognize the legitimacy of the elections in the Central American country, considering that they “perpetuate a dictatorial regime”. The definition of the Chilean Communist Party led Boric himself to try to disentangle himself from what the party said — with which he has an alliance to form the government — but not without leaving the candidate in an uncomfortable position in the final stretch of elections on Sunday, the 21st. .
“I invite the PC to retract its position vis-à-vis Nicaragua,” said this Friday the candidate for the presidency of Apruebo Dignidad, an alliance between the Frente Amplio and the Communist Party. Shortly before, on his Twitter, the 35-year-old deputy wrote: “In our government, the commitment to democracy and human rights will be total, without any kind of support for dictatorships and autocracies, bother anyone who bothers. Nicaragua needs democracy, not fraudulent elections or harassment of opponents.”
In our government, the commitment to democracy and human rights will be total, with no support from anyone like dictatorships and autocracies, no matter how uncomfortable. Nicaragua needs democracy, no fraudulent elections and no persecution of opponents.
— Gabriel Boric Font (@gabrielboric) November 12, 2021
Former President Lula lived a similar fair skirt this week, after the PT released a statement this Monday, highlighting the Nicaraguan elections as “a great popular and democratic demonstration”. Lula, who had demanded respect for democracy in Nicaragua in August, did not speak out. The public repudiation led the PT to withdraw the note from the air and the president of the party, Gleisi Hoffman, to declare that the PT’s position in relation to any country “is to defend the self-determination of peoples, against external interference and respect for democracy, for part of government and opposition,” she wrote
It remains to be seen in Chile the impact that the Communist Party’s declaration will have in the final phase of an open and competitive campaign, in which the other name with electoral chances resides on the far right, led by candidate José Antonio Kast. With a speech based on the order, Kast would have a chance to go to the second round, on December 19, according to polls. The controversy surrounding the demonstration on Nicaragua points precisely to one of the main elements surrounding the leftist candidate: the level of influence that the Communist Party will have in its possible government, a management in which the party will arrive with a strong position and protagonist , contrary to what was seen during the second term of former president Michelle Bachelet (2014-2018); on that occasion, the communists did not reach the main ministries.
“Boric’s ambivalences and his political inexperience should not worry so much, as should the impression of his little or no autonomy in relation to the Communist Party, which is clearly not the best for the complex scenario in which he will have to govern, for as limited and brief as it is,” said political analyst María de los Ángeles Fernández. For Mauricio Morales, Chilean academic and analyst, “Gabriel Boric will be president of Chile by a large majority if at this very moment he declares a definitive break in relations with the CP, excluding the party from his coalition in the face of support for the fraudulent and dictatorial process in Nicaragua” , wrote on Twitter.
Specialist foreign policy lawyer Paz Zárate, on the International Relations team of Christian Democrat presidential candidate Yasna Provoste, said the CP statement “is not surprising.” “The Chilean CP protected atrocities that took place in China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, to name just a few cases in recent times. But the problem is not just the PC. This is endemic in this sector”, he says, referring to positions even within the Frente Amplio. “Based on a distorted view of the principle of self-determination of peoples, [o partido] consistently turned a blind eye to human rights violations widely seen in Latin America and elsewhere,” wrote Zárate, who recalled recent statements by the main leaders of the communist acronym, including the younger generation of members such as Camila Vallejo and Karol Cariola. “The problem that remains for candidate Boric is that no one governs alone. Good personal intentions do not resolve the internal contradictions of a government coalition”, concluded the researcher.
The Chilean Communist Party to this day maintains its full adherence to the Marxist-Leninist doctrine. Furthermore, in recent decades it has not adopted moderate positions, as is the case with the Italian Communist Party, which finally merged with the Democratic Party with progressive sectors from the Christian Democrats, Socialist Party and independent sectors. Even in the Popular Unity Government of Salvador Allende (1970-1973), “Chilean communism had a doctrinally revolutionary line aligned with the USSR, but a practice with many reformist and flexible elements in internal politics”, explains Ernesto Ottone, academic at Colégio from Paris.
After the 1973 coup, however, when the dictatorship exterminated most of the main leaders and its militants were assassinated and persecuted, there were strong internal tensions between those who defended moderation and those who supported the armed struggle to defeat the Augusto regime Pinochet. And this finally prevailed around 1979: “It then became an extreme left-wing party”, explains Ottone, who was a member of the PC and ended up renouncing membership precisely for that reason. Already under democratic governments since 1990, it was a testimonial party that acted as opposition to the center-left Concertación, although certain pacts with the ruling party allowed the communists to enter Congress from 2010. In the second Bachelet government, they returned to La Moneda Palace as members of the extinct conglomerate Nueva Mayoría, but in the background.
“The PC maintains its gradual growth since it entered the electoral list with three deputies with the Concertación in 2010, it doubled in 2013 and elected eight deputies in 2017. With 13 deputies, they will become [a partir de 2022] the main party of Apruebo Dignidad, although they represent less than half of the Frente Amplio, if it is considered a political unit“, says the report of electoral specialist Pepe Auth, on the new composition of the Parliament, which will be renewed on November 21 in parallel with the Presidential elections.
After the controversy caused at the center of Boric’s campaign, the main leaders of Chilean communism had to back down. “Foreign policy in the Government of Apruebo Dignidad will be in charge of Gabriel Boric. The PC will obey even if there are differences. But in this matter, our purpose is to reach the maximum number of agreements, with a willingness to discuss all aspects”, declared in the morning the president of the Chilean communists, deputy Guillermo Teillier.
Vallejo, who plays an important role in Boric’s campaign — both were student leaders in the 2011 protests — also gave his version of the case, something unusual in an organized party like the CP, which rarely allows internal differences to be exposed in public. “This statement was neither discussed nor resolved by the collective leadership of the party. We condemn human rights violations in Nicaragua, Chile and elsewhere in the world. Gabriel Boric will be our president and he will be the one who will define the Government’s foreign policy”, guaranteed the deputy, who will not return to Parliament, but who is outlined as a possible name for some important ministry if Boric is elected.
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