Chile’s Lithium Provides Profit to the Billionaires But Exhausts the Land and the People / by Vijay Prashad and Taroa Zuniga Silva

Photograph Source: Francesco Mocellin – CC BY-SA 3.0

The Atacama salt flat in northern Chile, which stretches 1,200 square miles, is the largest source of lithium in the world. We are standing on a bluff, looking over la gran fosa, the great pit that sits at the southern end of the flat, which is shielded from public view. It is where the major Chilean corporations have set up shop to extract lithium and export it—largely unprocessed—into the global market. “Do you know whose son-in-law is the lithium king of Chile?” asks Loreto, who took us to the salt flat to view these white sands from a vantage point. His response is not so shocking; it is Julio Ponce Lerou, who is the largest stakeholder in the lithium mining company Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) and the former son-in-law of the late military dictator Augusto Pinochet (who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990).

SQM and Albemarle, the two major Chilean mining companies, dominate the Atacama salt flat. It is impossible to get a permit to visit the southern end of the flats, where the large corporations have set up their operations. The companies extract the lithium by pumping brine from beneath the salt flat and then letting it evaporate for months before carrying out the extraction. “SQM steals our water to extract lithium,” said the former president of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Atacameño, Ana Ramos, in 2018, according to Deutsche Welle. The concentrate left behind after evaporation is turned into lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide, which are then exported, and form key raw materials used in the production of lithium-ion batteries. About a third of the world’s lithium comes from Chile. According to Goldman Sachs, “lithium is the new gasoline.”

What Necessity Does

Ownership over the salt flat is contested among the state, Chile’s Indigenous communities, and private entities. But, as one member of the Lickanantay community—the Indigenous people who call the Atacama salt flat their home—told us, most of the owners of the land do not live in the area any longer. Juan, who raises horses and whose family were herders, tells us that people “live off the rents from the land. They do not care what happens to the area.” However, Juan knows that these rents are minuscule. “What they pay us as they mine our land is practically a tip,” he says. “It is nothing compared to what they earn. But it is still a lot of money.” For most Lickanantay people, Juan says, “lithium is not an issue because although it is known to damage the environment, it is providing [us with] money.” “Necessity drives people to do a lot of things,” he adds.

The negative environmental impacts of mining lithium have been widely studied by scientists and observed by tourist guides in Chile. Angelo, a guide, tells us that he worries about the water supplies getting polluted due to mining activities and the impact it has on the Atacama Desert animals, including the pink flamingos. “Every once in a while, we see a dead pink flamingo,” he says. Cristina Inés Dorador, who participated in writing Chile’s new proposed constitution, is a scientist with a PhD in natural sciences who has published about the decline of the pink flamingo population in the salt flat. However, Dorador has also said that new technologies could be used to prevent the widespread negative environmental impact. Ingrid Garcés Millas, who has a PhD in earth sciences from the University of Zaragoza and is a researcher at the University of Antofagasta, pointed out that the currently used of lithium extraction has led to the deterioration of the “ways of life of [the] Andean peoples” in an article for Le Monde Diplomatique. An example she provided was that while the underground water supply is used by the lithium industry, the “communities are supplied [with water] by cistern trucks.”

According to a report by MiningWatch Canada and the Environmental Justice Atlas, “to produce one ton of lithium in the salt flats in Atacama (Chile), 2,000 tons of water are evaporated, causing significant harm to both the availability of water and the quality of underground fresh water reserves.”

Meanwhile, there is no pressing debate in the Atacama region over the extraction of lithium. Most people seem to have accepted that lithium mining is here to stay. Among the activists, there are disagreements over how to approach the question of lithium. More radical activists believe that lithium should not be extracted, while others debate about who should benefit from the wealth generated by the mining of lithium. Still others, such as Angelo and Loreto, believe that Chile’s willingness to export the unprocessed lithium denies the country the possibility of exploring the benefits that might come from processing the metal within the country.

Natural Commons

Before the presidential election in Chile in November 2021, we went to see Giorgio Jackson, now one of the closest advisers to Chile’s President Gabriel Boric. He told us then that Chile’s new government would look at the possibility of the nationalization of key resources, such as copper and lithium. This no longer seems to be on the government’s agenda, despite the expectation that the high prices for copper and lithium would pay for the much-needed pension reforms and the modernization of the country’s infrastructure.

The idea of nationalization was floated around the constitutional convention but did not find its way into the text of the proposed constitution, which will be put to vote on September 4. Instead, the proposed constitution builds on Article 19 of the 1980 constitution, which provides for “the right to live in an environment free from contamination.” The new constitution is expected to lay out the natural commons under which the state “has a special duty of custody, in order to ensure the rights of nature and the interest of present and future generations.”

In the waning days of the government of former President Sebastián Piñera, Chile’s Mining Ministry awarded two companies—BYD Chile SpA and Servicios y Operaciones Mineras del Norte S.A.—extraction rights for 80,000 tons of lithium each for 20 years. An appeals court in Copiapó heard a petition from the governor of Copiapó, Miguel Vargas, and from various Indigenous communities. In January 2022, the court suspended the deal; that suspension was upheld in June by the Supreme Court. This does not imply that Chile will roll back the exploitation of lithium by the major corporations, but it does suggest that a new appetite is developing against the widespread exploitation of natural resources in the country.

Until 2016, Chile produced 37 percent of the global market share of lithium, making the country the world’s largest producer of the metal. When Chile’s government increased royalty rates on the miners, several of them curtailed production and some increased their stake in Argentina (SQM, for instance, entered a joint venture with Lithium Americas Corporation to work on a project in Argentina). Chile is behind Australia in terms of lithium production in the world market presently, falling from 37 percent in 2016 to 29 percent in 2019 (with an expectation that Chile’s share will fall further to 17 percent by 2030).

Juan’s observation that “necessity drives people to do a lot of things” captures the mood among the Atacameños. The needs of the people of the region seem to only come after the needs of the large corporations. Relatives of the old dictators accumulate wealth off of the land, while the owners of the land—out of necessity—sell their land for a propina, a tip.


This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, 2007), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017). He writes regularly for Frontline, the Hindu, Newsclick, AlterNet and BirGün.

Counterpunch, August 2, 2022, https://www.counterpunch.org/

Commentary: When a Country That’s Orchestrated Many Coups Has One of Its Own / by Amy Goodman and Dennis Moynihan

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

Originally published in Common Dreams, July 16, 2022

The United States has a long history of organizing, funding, arming and actively perpetrating coups against democratically elected governments.

“All bets are off,” Jason Van Tatenhove said on Tuesday before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. “If a president that’s willing … to whip up a civil war amongst his followers using lies and deceit and snake oil, and regardless of the human impact, what else is he going to do if he gets elected again?” Van Tatenhove, a former member of and spokesperson for the armed, right-wing, white supremacist militia group The Oath Keepers, was speaking of a potential Donald Trump presidential victory in 2024.

The Select Committee has held seven public hearings since June with at least one to go, probing the deadly assault on the Capitol that targeted the joint session of Congress held on January 6th, 2021 to formally count the Electoral College votes and declare Joe Biden the President-elect. President Donald Trump, as the committee has painstakingly documented, had been working feverishly to overturn the 2020 election results, spewing conspiracy theories, filing scores of frivolous lawsuits, threatening election officials and mounting a relentless propaganda campaign alleging the election he lost by a landslide had been stolen. When all else failed, he summoned a mob to Washington to “Stop the Steal.”

A country that mounts coups should not be so surprised when someone attempts one at home. We need a uniform standard of justice, and a world free of coups.

Thousands heeded Trump’s invitation, and then his January 6th rally speech, urging them to march on the Capitol. Among the thousands who mobbed the building were teams of Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Three Percenter militias who had planned and coordinated the attack.

“It was like something from a medieval battle,” Capitol Police Sergeant

Aquilino Gonell, an Iraq war veteran, testified to the committee. Four protesters died in the melee, one shot by police and three of natural causes exacerbated by the riot. At least 150 police officers were injured, Gonell among them. Doctors just told him he had to retire due to the severity of his injuries). Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died the next day after several strokes provoked by the injuries sustained during the assault. Four more officers subsequently died by suicides believed directly related to January 6th. They were Officer Howard Liebengood of the Capitol Police and Officers Jeffrey Smith, Gunther Hashida and Kyle DeFreytag of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Many among those who violently attacked the Capitol that day, with no apparent irony, sported flags and clothing proclaiming their support of the “Thin Blue Line,” as law enforcement is often called.

The Select Committee is nearing the end of its work, and has begun sharing its extensive trove of documents, depositions, testimonies and other evidence with the U.S. Department of Justice. Whether Donald Trump faces criminal charges for inciting that riot and attempting a violent coup remains to be seen. Trump could also face state charges in Georgia, where he actively attempted to coerce the Secretary of State to “find 11,780 votes” and thus overturn Biden’s win there by one vote.

Never in U.S. history has a president so openly attempted to subvert an election and the peaceful transfer of power at home.

Sadly, that can’t be said for the U.S. involvement in other nations around the world. The United States has a long history of organizing, funding, arming and actively perpetrating coups against democratically elected governments. Examples in the modern era include Iran in 1953, with the overthrow of popular Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh; Guatemala in 1954 by the overthrow of progressive President Jacobo Arbenz.

In 1961, the US along with Belgium had Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of newly independent Republic of Congo, arrested and executed. Belgian police commissioner Gerard Soete took a gold-capped tooth from Lumumba’s body as a trophy, after which his corpse was dismembered and dissolved in acid. Last month, Belgium returned the tooth to Lumumba’s family. They are now returning it to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 1973, the U.S. backed a military coup against Chile’s democratically-elected President Salvadore Allende. President Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger reportedly told Nixon at the time, “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

Just this week, John Bolton, National Security Advisor under Trump, bragged on CNN, “as someone who has helped plan coups d’état—not here, but, you know, other places. It takes a lot of work.” Bolton supported the 2004 U.S.-orchestrated Haitian coup that overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and more recently advocated for toppling the governments of Iran and Venezuela.

A country that mounts coups should not be so surprised when someone attempts one at home. We need a uniform standard of justice, and a world free of coups.


Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,400 public television and radio stations worldwide.

Denis Moynihan has worked with Democracy Now! since 2000. He is a bestselling author and a syndicated columnist with King Features. He lives in Colorado, where he founded community radio station KFFR 88.3 FM in the town of Winter Park.

Chileans Revolted Against Their Constitution. Americans Should Too / by Oren Schweitzer

A child observes a Mapuche ritual during a demonstration on the first day of the Constitutional Convention. (Felipe Figueroa / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

This article originally appeared in Jacobin | jacobin.com/

In recent years, Chileans have struggled to overturn their undemocratic political system and write a new constitution. Americans should take Chile’s lead and fight for a new constitution too.

On June 24, the Supreme Court announced its long-awaited Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, overturning Roe v. Wade by a 6–3 vote, ending fifty years of federally guaranteed abortion rights in the United States. Up to twenty-two states will soon have total or partial abortion bans, stripping the rights of millions of people and making the essential medical procedure far more dangerous and deadly for the poor. The same day the decision was released, tens of thousands of protesters mobilized across the country to defend free and safe abortion on demand without apology.

Chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, the Supreme Court has got to go” and “Fuck SCOTUS” broke out across protests in New York, rightly identifying the Supreme Court as an antidemocratic institution with the power to create and eliminate rights and laws outside the purview of popular democracy. The 6–3 far-right majority seems to have no qualms with wielding the court as a right-wing legislative body, and Justice Clarence Thomas has even argued that the court should roll back gay rights and access to contraception next. The idea that we’re effectively living in an oligarchical Christian theocracy is in many respects not far off. It is an obvious stretch to claim we live in a functioning democracy.

Just weeks ago, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez articulated that same sentiment, arguing: “It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to defend the stance that we live in a democracy, in a true one. . . . We’re living in oligarchy that has its democratic moments.” She went on to outline the myriad ways the US political system enshrines corporate minoritarian rule and argued that certain structural factors block progressive change. She’s right.

Just like AOC, the earliest socialists recognized the connection between political and social revolution. A more democratic society was seen as better terrain to win and establish social rights and wage class struggle. These same socialists identified the working class as the force that could win political democracy for everyone. Today, left-wing and popular movements around the world have taken up the question of political and constitutional reform, tied to proposals for public programs that can provide tangible material benefits for average people.

Notably, Chileans have been engaged in a decades-long struggle for a new constitution to break from the corporate domination of the country, and will vote on overturning their old political order this summer. Americans have much to learn from their struggle for building the mass movements we need here in the United States to deliver a more free and democratic society.

The Neoliberal Revolution

Chile didn’t always have a wildly pro-capitalist constitution. From 1970 to 1973, the Chilean working class embarked on the world’s first democratic socialist experiment. In the decades that followed, capitalist reaction established a neoliberal economy and an undemocratic system of minority rule much like the one we see in the United States.

Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government, which came to power in 1970, sought to transform the economy from one dominated by landed elites, family monopolies, and foreign capital to one owned and managed by workers for the collective benefit of all, achieving this revolution through liberal-democratic institutions. During Allende’s three years in power, Chilean workers made immense gains, nationalizing key industries, launching ambitious redistributive social policies, and pioneering worker management of firms. Outside the front of one textile factory in downtown Santiago where workers had successfully won control hung a banner that declared it a Territorio Libre de Explotación, a territory free of exploitation.

A banner hung by workers at a Yarur factory, 1971. (Armindo Cardoso / Biblioteca Nacional de Chile)

Conflict reached a fever pitch in the face of immense capitalist reaction, ultimately resulting in a US-backed military coup that killed Allende, the Chilean road to socialism, and the dreams of the Chilean working class.

Led by General Augusto Pinochet, the new military dictatorship executed, tortured, locked up, and “disappeared” thousands of working-class activists and socialists. Pinochet brought in a cadre of young Milton Friedman acolytes — the Chicago Boys — to manage the economy. The Chicago Boys initiated privatizations, introducing for-profit competition to formerly state-guaranteed social rights, deregulated major industries and cut taxes, and worked to crush labor unions and attract foreign capital, effectively launching the world’s first national neoliberal experiment.

To help institutionalize the regime after seven years of military rule, the government passed a new constitution, written by right-wing ideologue Jaime Guzmán, through a sham plebiscite. The Constitution effectively locked in place the elite-led economic and political system. Chile underwent a process of democratization in the late ’80s and early ’90s after a 1988 plebiscite ended Pinochet’s fifteen years of rule, and the 1989 election delivered the opposition into power. Nonetheless, the process was a managed one, giving the old regime much say in what the new one would look like and largely leaving intact the same Pinochet Constitution and economic model.

In recent decades, new social movements in Chile have emerged, challenging neoliberal orthodoxy and elite rule. Mass uprisings in 2019 rocked the country and forced the Chilean government to allow the Chilean people to write a new constitution.

Recently, the Chilean Constitutional Convention released a draft of a new constitution that will be voted on later this summer. The new constitution, if passed, would be a fundamental break from the current political system, enshrining important social rights and dramatically expanding democracy and popular participation.

Demonstrators display flags and banners during a protest against the government in Santiago, Chile, October 21, 2019. (Marcelo Hernandez / Getty Images)

The US Constitution has a much different provenance than Chile’s. Still, it serves a similar role Chile’s Constitution has for the past few decades. The US Constitution effectively emerged as a series of agreements and compromises between economic elites with heterogenous interests — those of Northern merchants and bankers and those of Southern Planters. Many of America’s founders explicitly wrote that the system of government they were establishing was built to prevent democratic rule by the masses.

James Madison made clear his disdain for democracy in the Federalist Papers, arguing that “democracies . . . have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

In recent decades, the further entrenchment of right-wing minority rule in the United States and elite control of the political system have prevented the government from addressing the myriad crises facing Americans. Chileans needed a new constitution and full democratization of society; we in the United States do too.

The Chilean Struggle for a New Constitution

In October 2019, Chile erupted in massive protests, first directed against a Santiago metro fare hike but then toward the entire political and economic system. Since the coup against socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973 and the institution of Pinochet’s military dictatorship, Chile has been at the forefront of the neoliberal revolution that swept the globe, with the erosion of the welfare state in the Global North and the developmental state in the Global South.

As a result, while Chile can boast itself as one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America today, intense inequality reigns supreme. According to sociologist René Rojas in an interview with Jacobin, “somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of Chileans . . . work in the informal market, so they don’t have secure employment for income and to feed their families,” and “about 70 percent of retired elderly workers in Chile make under half of the minimum wage.”

Half of Chileans make roughly $550 every month. Across the board, basic social goods are privatized and commodified. This brutal economic status quo, coupled with a long history of elite domination of the political system by a neoliberal center right and neoliberal center left coalition, has led to sharp declines in voter participation since democracy was reintroduced to Chile in 1989.

The mass uprising, dubbed the estallido social, or social outburst, coalesced around major demands to end austerity, neoliberalism, police repression, and political rule by the economic elite, and guarantee important social rights like health care and housing. Millions took to the streets, faced a brutal police force, and burned down metro stations and buses throughout the country. Nearly two months after the protests began and just days after a nationwide general strike, the national congress approved a referendum on the question of writing a new constitution. The referendum ultimately passed with nearly 80 percent of the vote, along with an uptick in voter turnout.

Months later, voters elected a left-leaning Constituent Assembly to write the new constitution, a draft of which has recently been finalized and will be voted on later this summer. In the presidential elections that followed, Chileans elected Gabriel Boric, a former leader of the 2011 student mobilizations and leader of the new political left in Chile.

A combination of deteriorating global conditions, rising crime and inflation, an uprising among Chile’s indigenous Mapuche population in the South, a more moderate Congress and Senate, and more, has unfortunately fed into the right-wing rechazo (reject) campaign, which is currently leading the polls. But no matter how the vote goes, the fact that Chilean workers have gotten this far is impressive, and the fight for a new constitution and a more expansive democracy is nowhere near over.

The Pinochet Constitution

Many Chileans view their current constitution as a major impediment to ending neoliberalism and inequality in Chile. Since the document’s original passage and the subsequent “managed transition” to democracy that began in 1988, the Constitution has undergone major reforms to eliminate the most antidemocratic vestiges of military dictatorship. However, that constitution is still largely seen as illegitimate due to its undemocratic provenance, and because it blocks major changes to the political and economic system.

A neoliberal economy is practically baked into Chile’s Constitution. Enshrined in it are “right to work” labor laws, the “choice” of private health care, and the prohibition of strikes by “state or municipal functionaries” and workers at public utilities or firms at which “stoppage would seriously endanger the health, the economy of the country, the supply of the population or national security.” The constitution outlines expansive private-property rights and protections from government expropriation.

Critics of the constitution argue that it privileges elites and makes it difficult to effect structural reform. Changes to the electoral system, including healthcare, water rights, pensions or the power of the Constitutional Court, require up to a two-thirds approval by Congress. The voting system has also historically privileged the two largest vote-getters in congressional and senate districts, creating a near two-party system of an elite center-right and an elite center-left coalition.

The electoral reforms in 2015 created far more proportional representation in the Chamber of Deputies, Chile’s lower house, and a bit more in the Senate — one of the factors that allowed the Frente Amplio, Chile’s emergent independent new left, to break up the traditional two-party system in the 2017 elections. Despite these advances, the relative nonproportionality of the Senate, along with high vote thresholds on meaningful changes to the political and economic system, makes it incredibly difficult to achieve greater social equality under the current Constitution.

The US Political System

Chile’s economic system is defined by neoliberalism, austerity, privatized social goods, and the domination of politics by economic and political elites, a political regime that has historically privileged two elite party coalitions and insulates the government from majoritarian decision-making, making it nearly impossible to meaningfully reform the system. If this sounds familiar, that’s because this also describes the political situation in the United States.

Similar to the Chilean Constitution, the US Constitution consists of multiple layers of what Chris Maisano calls “engines of minority rule,” the exact same features of the American system that led AOC to describe the US as an antidemocratic oligarchy. Among these is the Senate, one of the most malapportioned upper chambers in the world.

California, home to nearly 40 million Americans, has the same amount of representation as Wyoming’s nearly 600,000. The far-right Republican Party holds half the seats in the Senate, despite representing 40 million fewer people than the Democrats. In fact, the Senate is designed so antidemocratically that a 1964 Supreme Court decision said that it would be illegal for states to apply the same structure to their state legislatures.

The same malapportionment rears its head in presidential elections through the Electoral College. In the past nine presidential elections, Republicans have only won the popular vote twice, but have ruled for half that same time. Further, the Supreme Court, which is appointed by the undemocratically elected president and confirmed by the undemocratically elected Senate, can veto laws supported by vast majorities of the population via judicial review, a power most high courts in other countries either don’t have or use very sparingly.

In 2000, the court’s conservative majority, two of whom were appointed by George H. W. Bush, carried out what was essentially a judicial coup, stealing the presidential election for George Bush Jr. Its 2010 Citizens United decision allowed for an even greater influx of corporate money into the electoral system, making it easier for the corporate elite to buy elections. The court’s recent repeal of Roe v. Wade has now rolled back millions of peoples’ fundamental rights, despite majority opposition to the move by the American people.

In addition to the US Constitution, there are other antidemocratic measures incorporated into the American political system. The Senate filibuster, combined with the Senate’s malapportionment, creates a similar situation to the one that exists in Chile, enshrining yet another elite minoritarian veto against popular legislation.

Perhaps most central to the inability of workers to express independent politics in the state is the structure of one-member, “first past the post” legislated seats, which, along with regular one-round presidential elections, all but enshrines a two-party system. In this respect, our political system is even less democratic than Chile’s post-2015. And of course, the endless money in politics makes it extremely difficult for grassroots working-class candidates to compete.

In addition to these structural impediments, the increasingly minoritarian Republican Party has staked its future electoral successes on purposeful partisan malapportionment via gerrymandering and explicit attacks on voting rights. In Wisconsin, In These Times reports that “gerrymandering efforts have been connected to the passage of extreme policies that don’t have broad voter support, such as six-week abortion bansanti-union laws and dismantled employee rights.” These checks on popular democracy strictly circumscribe political possibilities, similarly to Chile’s Constitution, blocking progressive change and protecting the status quo.

Mass Action Gets the Goods

As long as the current American political regime remains, there is no clear path to socialism, let alone crucial social democratic reforms like Medicare for All. Even the liberal agenda of the current Democratic administration remains seemingly impossible to achieve.

In the wake of yet another devastating school shooting under a Democratic president ostensibly committed to gun control, we should remain highly skeptical that any meaningful legislation will pass, given Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema’s continued commitment to the Senate filibuster and the rest of the party’s commitment to “party unity” and backdoor negotiations. Just weeks later, the Supreme Court gutted New York’s gun restrictions. Many rightfully ask how many more kids have to die until the government does something. That number increasingly seems limitless.

The centrality of political reforms to achieving social reforms is not a novel idea. Socialists have long led with demands for universal suffrage, proportional representation, and expansive political freedoms. Friedrich Engels, in his commentary on the German Social Democratic Party’s 1891 Erfurt Program, wrote that “the working class can only come to power under the form of a democratic republic.” Chilean workers recognized this as their struggle against neoliberalism came up against the limitations of their constitutional order. American workers must do the same.

In the United States, major political reforms such as abolishing the filibuster, Senate, Electoral College, and Judicial Review, as well as establishing universal suffrage, proportional representation, and other measures that promote democracy (like making Election Day a national holiday), should be at the forefront of a socialist program to transform the state. These demands would be directly tied to a broader program of social and economic transformation — a different conception of how to organize society and the relationship between people and the state.

Grassroots activism around nonpartisan redistricting in Wisconsin provides an instructive example. At a 2020 redistricting commission, workers mobilized and testified before the panel and demanded nonpartisan redistricting, arguing that the political status quo insulated their representatives from democratic accountability and from having to address the issues they face every day, such as addressing the COVID-19 pandemic or expanding Medicaid. AOC’s recent video critiquing the American political system’s antidemocratic nature is a great example of how socialists should talk about and lead on the issue of democracy.

There are some reforms that are more achievable in the near term: the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would help fight Republican attacks on voting rights, the Fair Representation Act, which would establish proportional representation in the House of Representatives, and the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which, while not eliminating the Electoral College, would be a stopgap to guarantee that the winner of the popular vote wins presidential elections. We can also pass laws establishing true universal suffrage in the United States, enfranchising those currently and formerly incarcerated.

Further, the Democratic Party could end the Senate filibuster today, or, even more radically, Joe Biden could pack the Supreme Court, institute term limits for justices, or, more preferably, announce that the court decided Marbury v. Madison incorrectly and that the Supreme Court doesn’t have the power of judicial review, returning democratic decision-making to the legislative and executive branches of government. This would prevent the Supreme Court from striking down progressive bills and rolling back social rights, and would also allow the government to reimpose restrictions on money in politics.

These reforms fall short of the major constitutional overhaul necessary to democratize the United States, such as stripping or eliminating the power of the Senate. However, they would create democratic openings for American workers to win meaningful gains in health care, abortion rights, the minimum wage, and gun control, and eventually achieve a constitutional convention. The struggles in Chile also show reciprocal relationships among mass movements against neoliberalism, democratic reforms like establishing proportional representation, the rise of independent left-wing political parties, and a trajectory toward constitutional overhaul.

Chile and other workers’ movements for democracy show that only a mass disruptive political movement with independent expression in the state, streets, and workplace can overturn our current political order and set us on a better terrain for class struggle. We should heed those lessons and build the movements and political institutions necessary to win a truly democratic republic in the United States, a prerequisite to achieving a more equal, just, and free society.


Oren Schweitzer is a member of Yale Young Democratic Socialists of America.

Jacobin, July 2, 2022, https://jacobin.com/

Building the Communist Movement is Women’s Work (and Men’s Too) / by W. T. Whitney Jr.

Analyst Taryn Fivek, in her recent article on the CPUSA website, offers explanations for women’s frequent reluctance to take part in progressive politics. She calls for more involvement of women in the struggle for socialism. Here we review some of her conclusions and argue that women’s role in struggle must be large, one reason reason being the nature of socialist struggle and another, women’s experience and special qualifications.

Fivek points to barriers of male prejudice and of misplaced disparagement of women’s work, both in the workplace and in “social reproduction.” Not only do woman work for relatively low wages “in the productive sphere of the economy,” but, as she claims, “they are also working unpaid in the reproductive sphere” and, indeed, are “35% more likely than men to live in poverty.”

She points out that, [w]omen’s economic well-being is often tied to their role as primary laborer in a male-dominated household” and economic dependency may lead to “difficulty in leaving abusive relationships.” Fivek attributes women’s hesitancy to act politically to the assumption by most women, shared by society at large, that as care-givers “the major site of their oppression — the interpersonal or reproductive sphere … [is] ‘private’ and ‘personal.’”

The prevailing version of social reproduction alluded to by Fivek centers on home-based activities concerned with nurturing, protecting, and preparing workers for the future. In fact, as she points out, “social reproduction is not a private affair.” But she is also embracing a more far-reaching definition such as this one: social reproduction has to do with ways “by which a society maintains and transforms its social order, formations, and relations across time and space”.  

She insists that, “To say that the personal is not political is to accept the gender gap in our political work.” Women are to be accommodated and “included in all areas of political work.” She asks: “What can the [Communist] Party do to increase participation and leadership of women in the struggle for socialism?”

At issue are the characteristics of the kind of social reproduction operating in the public sphere. Women and men are already politically involved in that arena, but more women are needed.   

Some assumptions intrude. With its mechanistic overtones and utilitarian implications of supplying future workers, the unattractive term social reproduction needs replacing. And the customary linkage of social reproduction with women’s major role in family life must evolve, as a work in progress, into a larger role for men. Lastly, capitalists will not soon view any kind of social-reproduction work as other than a “free gift,” or as deserving merely of crumbs.

As envisioned here, the social-reproduction project is huge, so much so that working-class women and men will reject injustices impinging on their lives; will listen, learn, collaborate, and teach; care for people and nature; and manage affairs. Confronting governments, local ones not least, they will continue to agitate for livable incomes, roofs over heads; access to schooling from infant day-care to universities, lifelong education, sicknesses prevented and treated, no hunger, solidarity with workers abroad. – with no one left out.

The premise is that family-based tasks of taking-care-of and caring-for are expandable, and are important in society.  In conversation long ago with an American Communist and poet (Pulitzer Prize!) of provocative bent, that message was clear. Hearing about a male, myself, learning to be a doctor, he exclaimed in mock horror something like, “Why, that’s women’s work!”

Those whose work is that of perpetuating the generations have a name, not a laughably awkward one like “social reproducer,” but rather “socialist,” that is to say, socialist men and socialist women. 

Many or most women have the experience, predisposition, and – as it seems – the skills to take care of people and things – in other words, to be socialists. Today, socialist parties and socialist organizations badly need women as colleagues and comrades. Tasks ahead are momentous and recruits are needed who are prepared.

According to Psychology Today, “Girls and women … have advantages for many basic language-related skills … [and most] 12-year-old girls were more skilled than the average same-age boy at making inferences about the thoughts, feelings, and social perspective of their peers.”

It’s no surprise that, as reported recently by pewresearch.org, “Young women are more likely to be enrolled in college today than young men, and among those ages 25 and older, women are more likely than men to have a four-year college degree. The gap in college completion is even wider among younger adults ages 25 to 34.”

A University of Zurich study in 2018 claims that: “Demand for high-skilled workers who perform cognitive tasks has increased dramatically in the United States … [We find that] the probability that a college-educated man was employed in such a job fell, while the prospects for college-educated women improved. The key driver seems to be growing demand for social skills, such as empathy, communication, emotion recognition and verbal expression, in which evidence from psychological research indicates that women have a comparative advantage.”

Camila Vallego, Karol Cariola, and Marisela Santibáñez of the Communist Party of Chile

Reporting on a United Nations-organized conference in Chile in 2015 about women and political power, Winnie Byanyima, then the executive-director of Oxfam International, states that, “[W]hen you have more women in public decision-making, you get policies that benefit women, children and families in general …There is already enough evidence in the world to show the positive impact of women’s leadership. Women have successfully built and run countries and cities, economies and formidable institutions.” 

Caretaking means peacemaking. UN-sponsored research looking at 40 peace processes between 1989 and 2014 showed in 2015 that, women have managed to make substantial contributions to peacemaking and constitution-making negotiations.”  The study showed that, “where women were able to exercise strong influence on a negotiation process, the chances of agreements being reached and implemented were much higher than when women’s groups exercised moderate, weak, or no influence.”

Former Cuban president Raúl Castro has the last word.  Reporting to a Cuban Communist Party Congress in 2016, Castro noted with regret that women occupied only “38% of positions in state bodies, government agencies, national entities.”  This was despite women representing 49% of Cuba’s workforce and “66.8% of the best technically and professionally qualified workforce of the country.”

He continued: “I stand by the strictest truth when I affirm, based on my experience in many years of Revolution, that women, generally, are more mature and better managers than men. Therefore, although I recognize the progress made, I believe that under the leadership of the Party, the promotion of our combative females should continue rising, especially to decision-making positions nationwide.”

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

The Pride of Having Been Heard and Appreciated by Maduro / by Resumen Latinoamericano

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.

Building the Communist Movement is Women’s Work (and Men’s Too) / by W. T. Whitney Jr.

Analyst Taryn Fivek, in her recent article on the CPUSA website, offers explanations for women’s frequent reluctance to take part in progressive politics. She calls for more involvement of women in the struggle for socialism. Here we review some of her conclusions and argue that women’s role in struggle must be large, one reason reason being the nature of socialist struggle and another, women’s experience and special qualifications.

Fivek points to barriers of male prejudice and of misplaced disparagement of women’s work, both in the workplace and in “social reproduction.” Not only do woman work for relatively low wages “in the productive sphere of the economy,” but, as she claims, “they are also working unpaid in the reproductive sphere” and, indeed, are “35% more likely than men to live in poverty.”

She points out that, [w]omen’s economic well-being is often tied to their role as primary laborer in a male-dominated household” and economic dependency may lead to “difficulty in leaving abusive relationships.” Fivek attributes women’s hesitancy to act politically to the assumption by most women, shared by society at large, that as care-givers “the major site of their oppression — the interpersonal or reproductive sphere … [is] ‘private’ and ‘personal.’”

The prevailing version of social reproduction alluded to by Fivek centers on home-based activities concerned with nurturing, protecting, and preparing workers for the future. In fact, as she points out, “social reproduction is not a private affair.” But she is also embracing a more far-reaching definition such as this one: social reproduction has to do with ways “by which a society maintains and transforms its social order, formations, and relations across time and space”.  

She insists that, “To say that the personal is not political is to accept the gender gap in our political work.” Women are to be accommodated and “included in all areas of political work.” She asks: “What can the [Communist] Party do to increase participation and leadership of women in the struggle for socialism?”

At issue are the characteristics of the kind of social reproduction operating in the public sphere. Women and men are already politically involved in that arena, but more women are needed.   

Some assumptions intrude. With its mechanistic overtones and utilitarian implications of supplying future workers, the unattractive term social reproduction needs replacing. And the customary linkage of social reproduction with women’s major role in family life must evolve, as a work in progress, into a larger role for men. Lastly, capitalists will not soon view any kind of social-reproduction work as other than a “free gift,” or as deserving merely of crumbs.

As envisioned here, the social-reproduction project is huge, so much so that working-class women and men will reject injustices impinging on their lives; will listen, learn, collaborate, and teach; care for people and nature; and manage affairs. Confronting governments, local ones not least, they will continue to agitate for livable incomes, roofs over heads; access to schooling from infant day-care to universities, lifelong education, sicknesses prevented and treated, no hunger, solidarity with workers abroad. – with no one left out.

The premise is that family-based tasks of taking-care-of and caring-for are expandable, and are important in society.  In conversation long ago with an American Communist and poet (Pulitzer Prize!) of provocative bent, that message was clear. Hearing about a male, myself, learning to be a doctor, he exclaimed in mock horror something like, “Why, that’s women’s work!”

Those whose work is that of perpetuating the generations have a name, not a laughably awkward one like “social reproducer,” but rather “socialist,” that is to say, socialist men and socialist women. 

Many or most women have the experience, predisposition, and – as it seems – the skills to take care of people and things – in other words, to be socialists. Today, socialist parties and socialist organizations badly need women as colleagues and comrades. Tasks ahead are momentous and recruits are needed who are prepared.

According to Psychology Today, “Girls and women … have advantages for many basic language-related skills … [and most] 12-year-old girls were more skilled than the average same-age boy at making inferences about the thoughts, feelings, and social perspective of their peers.”

It’s no surprise that, as reported recently by pewresearch.org, “Young women are more likely to be enrolled in college today than young men, and among those ages 25 and older, women are more likely than men to have a four-year college degree. The gap in college completion is even wider among younger adults ages 25 to 34.”

A University of Zurich study in 2018 claims that: “Demand for high-skilled workers who perform cognitive tasks has increased dramatically in the United States … [We find that] the probability that a college-educated man was employed in such a job fell, while the prospects for college-educated women improved. The key driver seems to be growing demand for social skills, such as empathy, communication, emotion recognition and verbal expression, in which evidence from psychological research indicates that women have a comparative advantage.”

Camila Vallego, Karol Cariola, and Marisela Santibáñez of the Communist Party of Chile

Reporting on a United Nations-organized conference in Chile in 2015 about women and political power, Winnie Byanyima, then the executive-director of Oxfam International, states that, “[W]hen you have more women in public decision-making, you get policies that benefit women, children and families in general …There is already enough evidence in the world to show the positive impact of women’s leadership. Women have successfully built and run countries and cities, economies and formidable institutions.” 

Caretaking means peacemaking. UN-sponsored research looking at 40 peace processes between 1989 and 2014 showed in 2015 that, women have managed to make substantial contributions to peacemaking and constitution-making negotiations.”  The study showed that, “where women were able to exercise strong influence on a negotiation process, the chances of agreements being reached and implemented were much higher than when women’s groups exercised moderate, weak, or no influence.”

Former Cuban president Raúl Castro has the last word.  Reporting to a Cuban Communist Party Congress in 2016, Castro noted with regret that women occupied only “38% of positions in state bodies, government agencies, national entities.”  This was despite women representing 49% of Cuba’s workforce and “66.8% of the best technically and professionally qualified workforce of the country.”

He continued: “I stand by the strictest truth when I affirm, based on my experience in many years of Revolution, that women, generally, are more mature and better managers than men. Therefore, although I recognize the progress made, I believe that under the leadership of the Party, the promotion of our combative females should continue rising, especially to decision-making positions nationwide.”

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.