SANTIAGO – A faction within Chile’s Movement of the Revolutionary Left, or MIR, began on Monday the process of seeking recognition as a political party.
MIR’s secretary-general, Demetrio Hernandez, and several colleagues met with electoral officials to be briefed on the requirements for registration.
The group has until August to collect a minimum of 8,000 signatures to qualify for legal status.
Hernandez, a MIR veteran who battled the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, says he is the legitimate heir of the young militants who founded the movement in the mid-1960s as an alternative to the traditional “reformist” left.
Taking its inspiration from Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution, the MIR openly embraced armed struggle.
The MIR was shredded by the Pinochet regime, which killed more than 1,200 members of the group, including virtually all of its senior leaders.
Even so, surviving MIR fighters mounted a failed attempt to assassinate Pinochet in 1986.
The remnants of the MIR formally abandoned the armed struggle following the return of democracy in 1990, though some members have joined labor, student and grassroots organizations that eschew parliamentary politics in favor of cultivating “people power.”
Hernandez, however, says MIR needs to enter elective politics to to offer an alternative to Chile’s corruption-plagued existing parties.
“We want to resort to those honest men and women who really want change, who really want democracy in Chile,” he said.