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  • Cuevas (R) during a Mapuche resistance march in Chile.

    Cuevas (R) during a Mapuche resistance march in Chile. | Photo: Facebook / Cristian Cuevas Zambrano

Published 13 October 2017
teleSUR speaks to Chilean activist Cristian Cuevas about the challenges ahead for social movements and workers unions in Chile.

Left-wing parties in Chile are pushing for a plebiscite that will begin a Constituent Assembly to address the main social issues that affect young people, workers, and families.

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Activist Cristian Cuevas from the New Democracy Party, which forms part of the Broad Front alliance, said these parties are seeking strong participation in the legislative branch to push forward on their proposals.

"We want citizens to govern themselves, to regain their sovereignty," Cuevas told teleSUR. "Our victory would mean the victory of millions and their certainty that they can govern this country."

Cuevas said the leftist parties are focusing on social issues, student movement struggles and labor issues, such as the fight for a new pension system.

“We want to build a new relationship, that has a connection with our memory, with our history,” Cuevas said. "We are not born out of thin air, it’s something that has a story: internationalist, Latin American and a project of social transformation.”

"Our victory is not a personal one. It's the victory of a project and we have to look at it in the long run." 

For the upcoming presidential election in November, they support candidate Beatriz Sanchez. Cuevas, however, said he wants the project to go even further than the elections.

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"We're not just thinking of having good results or winning the presidency, but building a project that looks at our country, looks at our neighborhoods and the rest of Latin America," Cuevas said.

Cuevas, who is vying for a position in the National Congress of Chile, is linked to social struggles, student and union movements, feminist organizations and several other parties in the left seeking change in Chile. He identifies as a gay man, a communist, a union leader and the son of a coal worker and evangelical socialist mother.

He said it's important for candidates not to lose contact with social struggles in their territories and to avoid becoming elitists after they've been elected by their communities, since they would be betraying voter confidence.

Elections in Chile are a complex situation, according to Cuevas. Roughly 60 percent of people who can vote don’t participate in elections, while governing elites and powerful businessmen want to keep things as they are.

"The right wing and those who govern don't care that people don't vote. We want to change this," Cuevas said. “The first thing needed is to restore trust and to build a social and political relationship so that they can see in the Broad Front and their candidates a possibility and an alternative to this model."

He added that their main fight is to change the Constitution, which was created in 1980 and approved in 1981 under the military regime of Augusto Pinochet.

"We want to advance to a new institutionalization of the country, to call for a Constituent Assembly," Cuevas said. "That is the basis for a new Chile."

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Cuevas said the Broad Front is a path for seeking alternatives to building democracy, economy, culture and the identity of the Chilean people, especially with Indigenous groups like the Mapuche.

“What unites all is that we want to overcome and defeat neoliberalism,” Cuevas said. "And we believe we need to defeat those who control politics, and the economy in the country."

Cuevas says he believes Chile will see that it's time to listen to social struggles, and to deliver in the hands of the people the power and responsibility to change their future.

"We are destroying myths: that the left wing can't rule, that they can't do things right," Cuevas said, as he acknowledged that they have to correct many things. "We can't be lost or contaminated in corruption, or bad politics, but to make politics a project of transformation and change, where ethics is the most important thing."

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