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Our purpose is to encourage the knowledge and the debate of issues connected with art and military science. Selection of articles attempts to reflect different opinions. Beyond any ideological ascription. In order to impulse critical thought amongst our readers.

jueves, 25 de septiembre de 2014

Chile. ¿Quién está poniendo las bombas?

Chile Bombings Threaten Nonviolent Anarchist Movement’s Gains.


By Frida Ghitis, Sept. 24, 2014

On Sept. 8, just three days before the anniversary of the 1973 military coup that deposed Chile’s socialist President Salvador Allende, an explosion rocked a metro station at an upscale shopping center in the capital, Santiago. The blast injured 14 people, two of them seriously, and sent authorities scrambling to investigate Chile’s worst bomb attack in more than two decades.

The country’s deputy interior minister, Mahmud Aleuy, declared that the blast was the work of “demented criminals,” but the facts pointed to a much more troubling explanation. It wasn’t common criminals, demented or otherwise, who had carried out the attack. The operation bore the hallmarks of dozens of other recent explosions in Santiago.

Early suspicions fell on anarchists, and the trail led straight to them.

Several countries—including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Belgium—have issued travel warnings to their citizens. The Chilean government maintains that the country is safe, and despite the headline-grabbing incidents, they are right.

Chile is a Latin American success story, by all appearances a stable democracy with strong economic growth and a sizeable middle class. And while Santiago has been the site of about 200 bombings in the past 10 years, it remains one of the continent’s safest large cities. Even the bombings have caused few casualties, with the only deadly incident involving two anarchist operatives killed while trying to plant a bomb.

Evidence from previous blasts indicated the culprits belong to a violent faction of the anarchist movement, which has gathered thousands of adherents and has, in its nonviolent form, made serious political inroads.

Before long, police announced they had arrested three members of an anarchist cell, saying they were responsible for at least one other incident, a similar subway bombing in July.

A defense attorney, presumably representing the three, denied their involvement. But the same day the arrests were announced, an anarchist website run by the “Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire” took responsibility for the attack, claiming the group tried to avoid casualties by calling police with a warning, only to be ignored.

The cell explained that it had struck a “shopping mall for the bourgeoisie,” language drawn from populist leftist ideology.

For Chilean authorities, the rise of a violent radical group is a source of concern on many fronts. Interestingly, it is also a source of grave concern for the nonviolent mainstream of Chile’s anarchists, who have acquired some legitimacy and power in recent years.

Anarchists have become splintered, in Chile and elsewhere. They have sharply differing views on the best means of achieving their vision of a society free of governmental structures of power and oppression, with special concern for the well-being of workers.

In Chile, a country with a strong tradition of political activism, anarchists have won elections to the very powerful student federation at the University of Chile. Melissa Sepulveda, the federation president and a leading anarchist, strongly condemned the bombing, as well as the many cases of anarchist-led violent protests that have rocked the country, leading to furious rock-throwing street battles with police. The Facebook page of the Anarchist Revolution Current also denounced the bombing, saying, “Anarchism is a response of the oppressed class to the injustices of capitalism. For that reason, anarchist actions cannot be directed toward harming workers.”

Chile’s anarchists have pressured governments on the left and the right by mobilizing huge demonstrations, particularly over the issue of access to education. In Europe, economic distress has also boosted the appeal of anarchism’s radical call for an end to governmental authority.

Anarchists everywhere are struggling with their divisions. Their ideology is a blend of ultra-libertarianism and labor-driven socialism. It has thrived during times of political and economic turmoil. In Europe, the anguish of the economic crisis has boosted its fortunes, but its gains have not measured up to the strides of the fascists on the other side of the political spectrum.

The Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire is an internationally known violent anarchist network. The Greek branch is listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization after carving a trail of violent attacks.

Greek anarchists say they aim to launch a revolution to overturn a political system they claim serves only the rich. The local Conspiracy of Fire Cells branch has taken responsibility for several armed attacks, including a drive-by shooting at the prime minister’s office, explosions at shopping centers and a number of homemade bomb blasts at the homes and offices of politicians and journalists.

In Britain, anarchists have set fire to vehicles and buildings associated with authorities. Police blame them for more than 20 attacks over the past three years. For now officials say they amount to “domestic extremism,” rather than “terrorism.”

Mainstream anarchists in Chile are right to worry about the work of their more extremist counterparts. While the concerns of nonviolent activists have had an impact on policy—and are in a position to exert even more influence in the coming years during the presidency of Michelle Bachelet, a socialist—violence will prove counterproductive.

The propaganda power of blowing up public facilities may attract some fringe elements, but it also fires up the determination of security forces and government officials to counter the threat. After the blast earlier this month, officials were visibly angered. Interior Minister Rodrigo Penalillo declared, “The government will not rest until the assassins are behind bars.”

The same publicity that raises the group’s profile also threatens the country’s hard-earned image as a peaceful, stable and business-friendly environment. For most Chileans, that is a threat too far.

Even among committed activists the risk is high. Chile’s anarchists have prided themselves in their political achievements, even launching speaking tours in the U.S. to share tips with ideological soul mates.

For the most extreme activists, sowing chaos is a step on the way to revolution. For the most pragmatic ones, that path is a way to destroy the movement. The best hope for Chile’s anarchists to affect change is to see the perpetrators of the Sept. 8 bombing successfully prosecuted and their branch of the anarchist movement dismantled.

Frida Ghitis is an independent commentator on world affairs and a World Politics Review contributing editor. Her weekly WPR column, World Citizen, appears every Thursday. Follow her on Twitter at @fridaghitis.

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