The Communist Party tightens the ropes in the Boric Government

The Communist Party tightens the ropes in the Boric Government
The Communist Party tightens the ropes in the Boric Government

The differences between the Communist Party (PC), the cornerstone of Gabriel Boric’s government, and the left-wing Chilean administration itself, have become particularly acute in the last two weeks, revealing the complex diversity of left-wing views that make up the Executive. The recent dismissal of a communist advisor to the Undersecretariat of the Interior, led by the socialist Manuel Monsalve, and a police procedure over the weekend in Villa Francia, a popular neighbourhood in the western part of Santiago, have been harshly criticised by PC leaders. Ministers from different portfolios have been forced to give explanations for their actions in response to public complaints from one of the officialist formations and have recognised “the complex differences” that exist within the coalition.

A couple of weeks ago, on June 26, Monsalve dismissed Juan Andrés Lagos, a historic and influential militant, who is part of the political commission of the PC, with whom he had public differences, as he acknowledged. Lagos has shown his support for the mayor of his party Daniel Jadue, who is in preventive detention in the Captain Yáber prison, in the framework of an investigation for corruption, known as the pharmacy case, and has also supported the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro. In an interview on Sunday in the newspaper ThirdLagos accused the Executive of not having “resisted” the pressure from the opposition to leave office. But on Monday, the Minister of the Interior, Carolina Tohá, again explained that her departure from the Government “has nothing to do with resisting pressure.” “We all know, when we work in this type of position, that we are useful until we serve the boss whom we are advising (…) That is the concept and I believe that [el PC] “You are wrong here,” he said. T13 Radio.

Tohá also had to answer questions about the operation carried out last Saturday by Carabineros, coordinated with the Attorney General’s Office, in the Villa Francia neighborhood, in the municipality of Estación Central in the metropolitan region of Santiago. There were simultaneous raids in several homes, a community space, an open-air dining room and a local radio station. The police found explosives and 18 weapons. The area raided is a particularly sensitive area for the left because in this neighborhood the brothers Rafael and Eduardo Vergara Toledo were murdered in 1985, during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). The operation also occurred on the anniversary of the death of Luisa Toledo, a historic leader of the sector and mother of the brothers.

Carabineros during the operation in Villa Francia, on July 6.Licomita

The president of the Communist Party, Lautaro Carmona, said that the police procedure “borders on provocation” and demanded that the Ministry of the Interior be “absolutely and fully transparent” about the operation. “This is an issue that does not have a precise basis for justifying an action of this magnitude,” he said. The communist deputy Carmen Hertz sent a letter to the Ministry of the Interior, led by Tohá, to obtain more details about the raids, which she described as an “insult to the memory of the courageous mother Luisa Toledo” and that “they are actions against a democratic State of law.”

The communist deputy, Lorena Pizarro, also pointed out that the operation in Villa Francia had no justification “other than the criminalization of organized residents” and that it is “the same logic as in the dictatorship, that of the internal enemy.”

Carolina Tohá acknowledged that she is “surprised” by the PC’s distrust and that “it does not correspond to what should be an attitude in a process, especially when one is part of a Government.” “There have been differences, several in recent times. I hope that we overcome them with maturity because we have very important tasks in common, but I believe that there have indeed been several complex differences, one added to the other,” she said. T13 radio. He also explained that the operation took place on the day of the commemoration of the death of Luisa Toledo because they had known that, on the occasion of that anniversary, “a series of violent actions” were going to be carried out. “There is no justification in the world for a democracy to have an arsenal of this type in a radio station or in a dining room. This is not a setup,” he added.

Boric government spokeswoman Camila Vallejo, a communist activist, said on Monday that “if they are trying to establish that there is a political operation by the government against a specific community, it is not knowing how our government acts.” In response to a request for more details, Vallejo stated that the Executive will never have any intention of hiding any procedure or information as long as it does not hinder the work of the police or the Public Prosecutor’s Office. “One thing is the work of the Attorney General’s Office, and another thing is to cast a shadow of doubt on an operation that was within the framework of the Rule of Law and that had important results from the point of view of security.” The Minister of Labor, Jeannette Jara, also a communist, and who leads the pension reform, downplayed the exchange of statements: “Without a doubt, there can be different views on many things and this occurs within the framework of an alliance that is diverse.”

The Villa Francia case is yet another episode in the tense relationship of recent days. The rise in Chilean electricity bills, which will increase by 50% by 2025 due to a debt that has grown with electricity generators since 2019, has also revealed the friction. Last week, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Karol Cariola (PC), criticized Boric’s Energy Minister, Diego Pardow, who led the processing of the bill in Congress that unfroze the rates.

There are also divergent views within the ruling party regarding the Venezuelan government, which is supported by the Chilean Communist Party. During his recent trip to Europe in June, President Gabriel Boric said from Germany, in an interview with the media German wave He was asked about the deterioration of relations with Venezuela, whose tension has been increasing after the kidnapping and murder in Santiago four months ago of the dissident of Nicolás Maduro, Ronald Ojeda. “On our part there is no naivety: in Venezuela the institutions, at least within the framework of the rule of law that we have in Chile, are clearly deteriorated and we are a serious country, a responsible country, we trust in the work carried out by our Public Ministry, and we support the actions of the Chilean Justice system,” said the leftist president.

The Jadue factor

The tensions within the PC come at a complex time for the party. One of its most prominent figures, the mayor of Recoleta, Daniel Jadue, has been in preventive detention for more than a month after being charged by the Prosecutor’s Office with five corruption crimes in the context of the investigation into the popular pharmacies case. In July 2021, Jadue faced off in the left’s primary elections as presidential standard-bearer of the Chile Digno bloc against the then deputy Boric, who represented the Frente Amplio and who finally arrived at La Moneda.

Daniel Jadue in December 2015.MARIO RUIZ (EFE)

The defense of the mayor of Recoleta has tried to have his preventive detention lifted, but on Monday the Third Guarantee Court of Santiago confirmed for the second time the precautionary measure for the community leader, who risks having to leave his post since, by law, a mayor cannot be absent from his post for such a long time. To avoid this, the PC has launched an international campaign. Last week, his defense presented an urgent request for a review of the precautionary measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in which it asks that the organization discuss the measures before July 18, when Jadue will have completed 45 days in preventive detention and must leave the mayor’s office.

The Chilean court’s decision was issued a few hours after Colombian President Gustavo Petro called for the release of the communist mayor. “I ask for the freedom of Gabriel Jadue in Chile. Imprisoned by the jurisprudence of [Augusto] Pinochet imposed on free beings,” Petro wrote on the social network Xwhere he mistakenly called the community leader “Gabriel.” A few hours later, Boric’s administration called the statements of the Andean country’s president “unacceptable and imprudent” and the Chilean foreign minister, Alberto van Klaveren, delivered a note of protest to the Colombian chargé d’affaires. For their part, in Congress there were expressions of gratitude from communist parliamentarians: deputy Alejandra Plascencia celebrated Petro’s show of “support and solidarity” in the face of a “disproportionate” measure in relation to preventive detention and deputy María Candelaria Acevedo and deputy Matías Ramirez maintained that the support of the Colombian president was also for the mayor’s management and those who believe in his innocence.

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