Piñera’s Public Account notes verbatim: “The whole world is being threatened by populism, which always poses the easy path, rights without duties, effortless achievements, the path of progress without work, the claim of one’s own rights without respecting the rights of others and the promises of easy solutions to difficult problems.” He adds: “We must resist the siren chants that offer destinyless shortcuts.” In the Public Account itself he returns to “populism”
The rating of populists assigned by Piñera to those who wish to transform neoliberalism in Chile is perfectly attributable to those who defend it. Therefore, the term depends on the sayo to whom it is attributed. I proceed to demonstrate this, with the same terms contained in the President’s Public Account.
First, piñera’s easy path of rights without duty to which Piñera refers is something different from his thinking for the national majority. In Chile, the large entrepreneurship, domestic and foreign, instead of processing goods with more complex industries, has chosen the easy path of extracting and exporting copper, wood chips and seafood, at very low costs. This has enriched a minority, and without fulfilling their duties because their employers do not pay royalties and evade paying taxes. And the State has delivered free of charge the easy exploitation of the natural resources owned by all Chileans, in exchange for very little.
Second, the path of progress without work mentioned by President Piñera seems a kind of self-criticism. Because they are renting entrepreneurs, such as the Mandate himself, who, without promoting any productive activity, are enriched by the purchase and sale of shares on the exchange; and, many times, thanks to insider information. There is no hard work here but mere speculation.
Third, Piñera tells the truth when she accuses those who claim rights without respecting the rights of others. But the target is wrong. The President points to the opponents, without naming them; but in reality those who do not respect the rights of others are entrepreneurs who collect prices on medicines, toilet paper, diapers, chickens, etc. And, especially, forestry enterprises that take their own rights to take over land, without respecting others, without respecting the ancestral ownership of the Mapuche people.
Finally, President Piñera also accuses easy solutions to difficult problems of populism. Curious statement, since precisely Piñera and the right (although also the old Concertación) have insisted once and a thousand times that the solution to Chile’s development is economic growth. Easy solution, which has forgotten the social and environmental balances. And 18-O and the pandemic had to come to remind politicians and economists of the establishment that difficult development problems are not solved with pure growth. Again, an “easy shortcut, no destiny”, which Piñera attributes to his opponents when the sayo fits him perfectly.
Sebastian Piñera’s Public Account seeks to disqualify anyone who deviates from neoliberalism or opposes his government initiatives with the anathema of populism. But, as the qualifier has lost all scientific and semantic rigor, I have dared to place a completely different content than piñera intends or imagines.
The word populism is ideologicalized. It has become an insult to discredit enemies, but not to understand reality. The right and its economists use it to protect the system they defend. The President was not serious in using that word in the Public Account. It is wrong to describe as populism popular initiatives that seek to deepen democracy and propose new strategies for economic development and alternative public policies.
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