translated from Spanish: Piñera’s social distance

By the chinese New Year, the last weekend of January, everyone learned of a rapidly expanding virus. For the media, he drew great attention that measures to contain him were through the restriction of transfers to prevent their transmission, the limitation of close contact and the obligation to use masks in public places. The world also noticed the news of the rapid construction of a hospital for 1,000 patients to be built in 10 days in the vicinity of Wuhan.
At the time, despite living in a globalized world, many thought it was a purely Chinese problem and, specifically, Wuhan. However, as early as the end of January, the effects and havoc were seen in other neighboring and not-so-neighbouring countries (Iran and Southeast Asia, among others). In those days, it was also known that people with COVID 19 had arrived in Europe, where the virus, regardless of country or person, showed good health and continued to sicken more people.
As is usual for certain Latin American sectors, the visit to Europe and, lately also to Asia, takes place during the period of long holidays, specifically during the months of January and February. For this European pilgrimage, travelers have an understandable predilection for starting with a visit to the motherland. Remember that in Chile – unlike in Argentina, where it rests in January – tourism is preferably done in February. During that month of the European winter, the increase in contagions became more noticeable. Minister Mañalich himself points out on 26 February that from the next day the controls were extended to travelers from northern Italy, Japan, South Korea and Iran, because he referred to those who had returned in certain Chinese cities.
The places of contagion of this virus are varied: both travelers and non-travellers can be infected on the subway, in the restrans, trains, shops, buses, hotels and museums, in stadiums, funerals, weddings and airports. This needs to be explained: the virus is not necessarily knowingly spread and through a fact that people are aware of, it is also dispersed through contaminated surfaces and objects. For this reason, it was obvious that so much walk should have effects on Chilean travelers. This simple finding of tourist behavior should have igniting the first warning sign in our government from mid-February.
It sticks with mistakes or common sense
By common sense, it could be estimated that tourists would return at least a few days before the return to school. This year 2020, most of them started their classes on March 02. Therefore, the authorities’ decision to “ask” for travellers to make the affidavit only from that same March 02 may be considered late. As for the contents of the affidavit, he wondered if the travellers had symptoms. However, the virus was already known to be asymptomatic for a period of between 4 and 12 days (the same statement says so). Therefore, if someone got caught having a coffee before boarding at Madrid airport, they would hardly know until at least 3 to 11 days after arriving in Santiago. If he had no symptoms, he was allowed to quickly incorporate into his daily life.
But, also by common sense, it is known that those who return from such a long journey do not stand still in their homes. You have to tell the experiences and hopefully face to face. Not yet presenting symptoms, but being infected. To make it explicit again, and from common sense, the contagion could have been in different places, such as restoranes, where food is served and withdrawn by waiters. They may have attended a family reunion before the annual hustle and bustle begins, at a wedding, or any numerous encounters during the end of February and March, where they exchanged souvenirs, ranging from a magnet to a shawl, a book or a drink or a few simple cookies. Each encounter and distribution of an object are risks of contagion. In addition, one of the Latin American peculiarities, is to hire a home adviser for the work of the house. In Santiago, they can take up to two hours to reach their destination (home or work) and during which journey they travel on buses, buses or trains. Just look at the mics or the subway at 7 or 8 in the morning or even between 17 and 20 hours in the afternoon. All this needs to be highlighted explicitly, because there was only one protocol of care and follow-up for people with symptoms, but not for asymptomatic people who equally infect other people. His control by the health authority seemed exaggerated.
However, in the face of this behaviour and the observation of social reality through common sense, the Covid Advisory Council 19 insisted that it was possible to determine the traceability of the virus. Tracebality is used to certify authenticity in the rearing of animals and objects manufactured in certain spaces. It is also used to track down early sick people (new symptoms) and patient 0 is sought. But there were thousands of travelers here. In other words, the traceability of the behaviour of thousands of travelers was emphasized! Regardless of whether they have symptoms or not, with the behaviors described, traceability seems derisory. On 20 March, the epidemiologist-head of the Advisory Council of COVID 19, María Teresa Valenzuela, insisted that until the previous Saturday it was still possible to draw, so that, according to her, an entire country could not be paralyzed.
The truth is that any non-critical scientist, whether of the exact sciences, natural or social, bases his work on the observation of reality, both natural or social, with certain certainties or attributes from which they work to subsequently establish possible hypotheses of the results of what might happen.
So far, it is therefore clear that the government’s actions have been unable to observe reality from a scientific (or epidemiological) point and to contain both the entry and expansion of Covid 19 in the country. From the outset, it was not a question of paralyzing a country, it was only to quarantine travellers who, in terms of numbers, would not jeopardize the economic continuity of the country.
Tips for the government for what’s coming
Thus, observing, even in an uncritical way the current moment, there is a significant difference compared to Italy and Spain: Covid 19 arrived in Chile before the start of winter and not when it is ending. In addition, as has been claimed massively for 7 months, Chile is a country where most of the inhabitants live a normal where they access a precarious and expensive health system, with schools and homes without heating, with overcrowded homes (which are not an exclusive feature of immigrants), with little access to a healthy life and diet, , and with jobs with excessive schedules and transfer distances. That is, a country with precarious living conditions for most of its inhabitants.
However, despite these attributes and, to which several others could be added, strategies for preventing and containing the expansion of covid 19 of the government evade almost all of these conditions from the social and climate reality of the country. They do not necessarily respond to the living conditions of the first sick, for which the number of beds and fans was also sufficient. These factors are essential to see that the expansion of this virus which, without the required health control, has not respected the routes of contagion established by the government between its 4 walls, but rather continues to infect it in the way that characterizes it.
Now, you could say, that overcrowding and unsused places are too structural conditions to overcome in the short term. But in large cities, it has been avoided to address globally in shortening the time and distances in the transfer of people, fundamental factors in the expansion of the virus and necessary to access the places of their sources of income. Nor was it considered looking for ways to subsidize unemployment from sources outside the worker to prevent overburden these stressful moments.
Therefore, with a focus on economic activity, it is insisted on the government that prevention of contagion is to maintain the social distance between people and the use of the mask. And so, outbreaks and outbreaks allow people to blame for not respecting the social distances needed to fight the disease and implementing policies to return to confinement.
Social distance
But with all these measures, is this social distance just a characteristic of this government? In reality, these are consistent with the social distance from the dominant power, especially economic, and observable in almost the entire history of our country: its distance to the way of life of the majority. The richest 1% or 10% considers enough with what the people live, without wanting to understand that the normal way of life of Chileans is produced by the dissonance between disbursement by the amount of goods and services acquired and necessary to live with respect to the salaries obtained. This way of life is unsustainable over time.
Hence it appears valid and consistent to invoke the concept of class, but for the bourgeoisie: the class consciousness of the Chilean bourgeoisie, of the true bourgeoisie of the richest 10%, in a broad sense and 1% if it is stricter. This awareness of what you may lose reappears and manifests brutally from 18 October: transparent the primary interest of maintaining its privileges, both political and economic, guaranteed by the Constitution of ’80. No matter how the remaining 90% of the country lives, the important thing is to defend and hold on to this neoliberal capitalist system that has them where it is. President Piñera is well aware of this, and his action is, from this point of view, coherent and consistent, since he is one of the wealthiest 1% in the country and even among the richest in the world according to the Forbes list.
As of October 18, the interests of the bourgeois class are fully apparent: every step of Piñera unmasks this awareness of its kind, that is, a total awareness that the interests of the power of the economically dominant class are at stake. Initially, his contempt for social demonstrations is exposed through a celebration and a pizza. Later, he already strongly holds his struggle not only “for Coca Cola”, but for the other privileges at stake. This contempt is also shown that, a few days after the start of the demonstrations, another character a member of the group of eight Chileans whose fortunes exceed one billion dollars, according to Forbes, is given the privilege of buying in France the painting of the “Christ mocked” for 24 million euros (20 billion Chilean pesos), one of the most expensive paintings in the world. The possibility of accumulating such money for a few is not only rooted in the Constitution, but also in the normalization of the economic, social and cultural processes of the country that sustain this dynamic on an ongoing basis.
Therefore, it should not be forgotten that Covid 19 lands a little before 08 March 2020. The relevance of this date is due to the date that this year was a more massive act than the previous year and which seemed to hint at a revival of a social movement that began in October last year.
Thus, the emphasis on social distance, as a government strategy, has only proved successful in flattening the curve of the social movement, which during January and February was already expanding to other places beyond The Plaza Dignidad.
From this point of view, Covid 19 has been a relief to the President: going to visit and sit at the monument on a Friday was a success for President Piñera. It was a declaration of principles: he was able to find, through the policy of confinement and distance because of Covid 19, ways of containing the manifestations and manifesting that he has won. That is, if people do not respect the social distance by going to a protest, the virus expands again, because, for health security, they will have to declare themselves areas of confinement again.
Unfortunately for President Piñera and Minister Mañalich, their social distance in this calculation prevents them from seeing that the social conditions of most Chileans have not changed. What’s more, they’re getting worse every day. This ability to despise living conditions, very characteristic in their kind, prevents them, however, from predicting when the people themselves and in what way, tired of living in these conditions, will move again to manifest themselves en masse against the wretched abuses.
Unfortunately, it may also be thought that we will move from a covert dictatorship to an open and manifest dictatorship. But as it is already written on the streets… fearless

The content poured into this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.

Original source in Spanish

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