SANTIAGO – A Chilean leftist who spent 23 years in prison in Peru for his activities with that country’s MRTA guerrillas is urging the left in his homeland to form an inclusive coalition capable of battling the supremacy of the market.
“I propose the organization of a kind of a broad front, in which the MIR (Movement of the Revolutionary Left) evidently would be an important part,” Jaime Castillo Petruzzi said in an interview with EFE.
“One need only go out onto the streets of Santiago to see that it’s urgent and necessary that all who demand a political and social change in Chile come together and seek points of convergence,” he said.
It was less than two months ago that Castillo arrived back in Chile after serving his sentence in Peru for his involvement in the 1990s with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), named for the leader of a colonial-era indigenous rebellion against the Spanish.
Castillo, who has admitted to having been a mid-level commander in the MRTA, was arrested in 1993 and convicted on charges of masterminding the abduction of 12 businessmen and killing eight soldiers and police.
“Organizations have the task of seeing points of agreement. We must rise above the demoralization caused for so many years by damaging autocracies, personality cults that have no place in this situation. A fairer, more just society is the common objective we all want to achieve,” he said.
Active with the MIR before he was forced to flee Augusto Pinochet’s Chile in 1974 at the age of 17, Castillo says his only ambition now to “to play the role of just another comrade, contributing modestly.”
Even so, he is trying to convince Chile’s existing parties and grassroots groups to work toward holding a conference by early next month.
“I make an appeal for unity, to leave aside differences to reach a common goal: battle against the predatory neoliberalism that is annihilating the planet, the continent, and the country,” he told EFE.
He describes the Chile of 2016 as “immersed in consumerism.”
“It makes an impression to see people in the metro, in the streets, with smartphones, dedicated to living inside their square meter, to consuming everything within reach and to taking on unspeakable debt,” Castillo said.
Despite his years with the MRTA, Castillo says that armed struggle “is not an option” in Chile.