Carlos Aznárez’s interview with Daniel Jadue, Communist mayor of Recoleta Municipality in Santiago, Chile
Introduction, by Carlos Aznárez, director of Resumen Latinoamericano:
Daniel Jadue, of Palestinian origin, is mayor of Recoleta, a populous municipality of the Chilean capital. But also he is a leader of the most critical wing of Chile’s Communist Party and is distanced from positions taken by some of his counterparts ensconced in the Moneda Palace.
It’s is worth remembering that it was Jadue who ran against current president Gabriel Boric in the primary elections of the left. He lost that vote and many in Chile attribute his unexpected defeat (he was leading in all the polls) to right-wing votes that flipped over to Boric and had the effect of canceling out the Communist mayor.
Recently, Jadue was in Venezuela participating in the International Summit against Fascism, which was part the 20th anniversary commemoration of the failed coup of 2002. His presentation attracted the attention of Nicolás Maduro himself, who in an event at the Miraflores Palace asked Jadue to account for how he has managed to continue as mayor for 10 years while gaining in popularity with his neighbors.
Carlos Aznárez – One can say you arrived in Caracas without many people here knowing you very well and you are returning to Chile with the satisfaction of being appreciated by the many Chavistas who applauded your speeches.
Daniel Jadue – For me it was very gratifying and fortifying to attend the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the coup. For true democrats, a coup is never good news, and can never be upheld. For true democrats, the problems of democracy are to be resolved always with more democracy and never with less. Therefore, coming here is also an act of symbolic reparation for the fact that the government of Chile at that time – Ricardo Lagos was president – supported the coup d’état, supported the revocation of all powers, supported US interference and was the first country, even before the Americans, to speedily recognize the de facto government that closed down the Congress and would have suppressed all political and democratic rights in Venezuela.
Furthermore, it is an act of reevaluation of the resistance a people can offer against foreign intervention. Indeed, when you look at the whole history of coups promoted by the United States, in Brazil in 1964, in Chile in 1973, then in other countries like Argentina or Bolivia, and on to Venezuela, you realize that in 50 years of history the North Americans have learned nothing and still don’t have an ounce of attachment to democracy. So, to commemorate 20 years after the coup, and at the same time celebrate 20 years of democracy having been restored by means of a very large popular mobilization, is a tremendous message for the Latin American left about exactly what happened back then.
It’s also an act of recognition of the Venezuelan Armed Forces. And I say this very seriously. In the Southern Cone, people know nothing about democratic armed forces. What we are used to is that when the neo-liberal project, the capitalist project, or the project of a country’s political right has political problems from inability to solve problems of the people, they always call upon the military to do the dirty work and reestablish “order” to their liking. So, to see firsthand a military that does not do what the armed forces of the Southern Cone do, a military incapable of putting itself at the disposal of foreign governments to overthrow their people, incapable of putting itself above their people and defending foreign interests, is good news.
CA –Above all, coming from a country where Pinochet ruled with the support of the most extreme right wing.
DJ -In Chile we lived through the unfortunate experience of the armed forces having put themselves at the disposal of the foreign government, not only to overthrow their own government, but also to kill two generals-in-chief of their own army. So, these are brutal experiences that became second nature in the Southern Cone, and not only this, but also there is the fact that thieves and corrupt officials do become presidents, just as do those who carry out coups d’état. I thought, therefore, that it was the right time to be here. and I heard from and was recognized by President Maduro.
Now, after the last meeting with Biden’s envoys, he is once more the only president recognized on all sides as the democratically and constitutionally elected president of Venezuela. They came because of the oil crisis, and did so to “ask” the Venezuelans to grant concessions so that American companies might operate in Venezuela in order to sell oil in the United States and Europe. These are very powerful signals, especially when one looks at Venezuela and sees that for a long time now there have been no guarimbas or protests and sees an economic rebirth. Now institutions of the banking system and of international finance are projecting a 20% growth rate for this year; and 18% for next year. If we take into account that this is happening in Latin American where the growth rate is going to be very close to 0%, I think this is good news for the Venezuelan people. And I hope it is good news for all governments in the region.
CA –What about the internal situation in Chile, especially in regard to Boric’s statements about Venezuela and Nicaragua? In statements, he is always dismissing those countries.
DJ -Chile’s international relations are exclusively the province of the President of the Republic. I am not going to offer an opinion on positions the President of the Republic has taken. I do appreciate that the new government has recognized that the government of Venezuela has been asked. However it eventually plays out, and it may not be a good time, just the U.S. acknowledging and inviting represent a kind of acceptance.
I am pleased that strife in Chile over Guaidó is ending. At issue was his being recognized as the acting president and the unilateral sanctions, and he never received a vote from anyone to be president of Venezuela. I think the time is coming when the international community will abandon its hypocrisy, lift its sanctions, and turn to multilateralism and no longer appeal to international law only when it’s convenient.
CA – As a member of the Communist Party, and of a sector there that can be characterized as on the questioning side, are you able to exert pressure so that the Government does not turn its back on those countries of our continent that confront the Empire and have radical positions?
DJ – First, without self-criticism, Marxism does not exist. The main idea for Marxists is that the only permanent thing is change, with thesis plus antithesis leading to synthesis. That’s what always happens in organizing. We are able to look self-critically at whatever we are doing. I have no special standing vis-à-vis the government but I do embrace communist practice and doctrine very honestly and transparently.
We are very committed and loyal, never obsequious. That’s why we are free to discuss things we don’t agree with or which deviate from premises put forth at our last national congress. I believe that the Communist Party is going to play the role it always plays, that of watching over implementation and fulfillment of the party’s program and also those areas where the party’s president quite properly has autonomy. There we are able to tell the president what we don’t like.
As a party, we believe, first, in the universality of human rights and also that the international community represents a community of equals. We hold that international law prohibits interference in the domestic affairs of nations and that ideology doesn’t have to dictate international relations. Therefore, we prioritize regional integration within a context of democratic, respectful, and de-centralized coexistence. We will continue fighting for this so that it happens and hope that Chile acts accordingly through President Boric’s leadership. This would be the best route for establishing a regional integration pact, which is necessary in dealing with this world in an era of globalization.
CA –It is too little time to judge Boric’s management, but how do you see his lining up of relations with, for example, the social movements and with the popular movements?
DJ – I thinks it’s early to evaluate a government that is not yet installed. That government now is concerned about a series of situations that have slowed that process down. These are about dealing with all the disasters left behind by that rightwing government, one of the worst ever in Chile. It’s not easy to form a government in a world convulsed by war, by multiple options abroad, by international hypocrisy. There is also inflation and the world economic slowdown. Therefore, we absolutely have to be cautious and generous in giving Boric time to show all his cards. I believe that will happen very soon and I really hope we can concentrate on carrying out a program and can find the right perspective with which to confront today’s worrisome situation.
CA –You spoke in the meeting with Maduro about the left. Somehow you suggested there is a type of left politics that is blind to what is happening in the world and especially in our region.
DJ – We call it progressivism. It’s a poorly defined term that I don’t recognize as referring to left politics. It offers no clearly recognizable ideology and recently, after the debacle of the really-existing socialism, it reflects concentrated efforts to humanize capitalism. It gives up on the idea of overcoming capitalism and building socialism. That version of the left is now powerless as it tries to latch onto neo-liberalism to humanize capitalism. That kind of left politics, facing reality, doesn’t understand that its position is non-viable without a clearly leftist commitment. It has allowed the ultra-right to present itself as the only political means for mobilizing and representing those large numbers of people who see themselves overwhelmed by contemporary production models and by sentiments of fear, anguish, and uncertainty about their future.
So, I am critical of the vision of that left, because, in addition, it includes policies on alliances that are opaque. Those leftists like the votes of communists, but not communists themselves, for whom they show deep contempt. That seems to me reason enough to call into question their approach to alliances. Any group given to making agreements with people whom they despise is doomed to failure. I believe that we have to concentrate on recovering people on the left who learn all over again how to handle their differences democratically, are willing to separate their affairs from neo-liberal governments and are capable of building a project of a united left that opposes capitalist globalization.
CA – Speaking of communists, what is your opinion of some European and Latin American Communist parties that have reverted almost to agreeing with NATO as it confronts Russia’s attack on Ukraine motivated by self-defensive?
DJ -The first thing to understand is that conflict involving Ukraine, Russia, NATO and the United State is conflict between capitalist powers at odds over natural resources and markets in the various territories. We realize that that when globalization has extended worldwide as far as it can, war remains as their only tool for being able to fight inch by inch for natural resources and territories. Here we must first clarify certain facts: there is no confrontation between two opposed economic models, ideologies, or models of society. What we have are capitalists fighting each other and a demonstration of capitalism’s degradation on a global scale, and its extreme brutality.
That’s the first thing. The second is that, as we understand it, in this context of capitalist powers fighting each other, we have to be able to look at history and, for good measure, analyze the role each actor is playing. What’s involved is a defensive attack by Russia, which has been menaced for 20 years by NATO and by the United States, which has been closing in on Russia’s borders in a threatening way. I see U.S. eagerness to get closer to the border with China and in the process neutralize any possibility of Russia returning to a leading role as a world power. That way the United States could keep on discussing and outlining this bipolar world it likes so much. We ought to remember, for example, that Russia, with Putin at its head, in 2005 proposed to NATO that it join the Alliance and NATO said no.
In any setting that is completely transparent and honest, we would understand this and say, “Look, Russia put up with threats from the so-called West for a long time and has decided now that it’s no longer willing to do so. What we see are two countries disputing two versions of the law and its not a question for anyone else.” I say very honestly, Putin is no better or worse than Biden, than Macron, than Johnson. They are capitalist presidents who fiddle around with international law to their heart’s content to keep small countries from being able to compete with them on equal terms. The only thing to hope for is that the war ends as soon as possible, When there’s war, the only ones who suffer, are the people. The only winners of the war are going to be the big trans-national corporations. Not everybody is going to lose with this. Many here will be getting richer with this war. War never will be good news for anybody else.
CA – But is it clear to you that Russia is also going after the Nazification of Ukraine?
DJ – Absolutely
CA –That’s a very great danger for the world now. It encourages the advance of fascism even more.
DJ – I recognize that Russia is a country reacting to a threat, to a policy of physical and political extermination against its people, against their history, their roots. That’s obvious to me. What I have tried to establish clearly is that a part of the left is lost in thinking also that Russia has plans for an alternative project for society, and that is clearly not so. In that regard, one does not defend Russia but instead criticizes western hypocrisy, the lack of intellectual honesty, and the double standard of the West’s leadership. For them war becomes a concern only when friends are being attacked and certainly not when Palestine, Cyprus, and Western Sahara are being occupied. Those leaders show no concern when they themselves intervene to install dictatorships everywhere. They go on crying about the immigrants from Russia’s war, even if they’ve already provoked migratory crises with their own military interventions. With the truth on display now, it makes you laugh to see them criticize Russia.
CA – Did being of Palestinian origin and strongly supporting the struggle of that people bring you many problems in politics?
DJ – Zionism has a highly developed international lobby that goes after people who criticize Israeli policies of physical and political extermination against the Palestinians, ongoing for 70 years. Such criticism is systematically portrayed as a kind of antisemitism. A far-reaching smear campaign has been maintained that has even targeted institutions such as UNESCO and world leaders like Jeremy Corbyn and others. So, yes, there is a cost one pays to be of Palestinian origin and to maintain support for that people.
CA – From what part of Palestine did your family come from?
DJ – My family comes from the occupied West Bank, so I will always be on the side of international interests and rights and collective rights for all the peoples of the world. My position towards Palestine is no different from my position on Wallmapu (1) and on the Polisario in the Sahara. I believe that the only thing I can ask of politicians and of world politics is that at least their speeches, narratives and actions show logic that is consistent.
1. Wallmapu is the indigenous name for the ancestral territory of the Mapuche people and nation, which is located in southern Chile and Argentina.
Buenos Aires-based Carlos Aznárez is an author, journalist and editor of the Resumen Latinoamericano website and periodical.
W. T. Whitney Jr. translated.