Comandante Camila, LatAm student leader

Students, unite! Comandante Camila — young and attractive — is Chile’s new revolutionary leader. Like a latter-day Che Guevara, she wants a Communist revolution – but not with weapons.

“There has never been real Communism”

Chile’s students have again staged a mass protest against increasing tuition fees. Again Comandante Camila, the charismatic leader of the University of Chile Student Federation, was at the forefront. She’s a highly visible leader, and who doesn’t like a revolutionary? But what does she really want? Metro met her.

We’ve had decades of failed Communism. Doesn’t the Soviet Union show that Communism is doomed to fail?

I believe there hasn’t been such a thing as Communism in this world. It’s been done under adverse conditions for its development, like extreme bureaucracy and autocracy. Communism is an ideal that has not yet been seen fully anywhere. Basically, Communism means to accomplish a society where we all share equal conditions, where each of us receives according to their needs and contributes through the work according to their abilities. Communism is a society without social class separation, a society where men and women really feel free and reach their full moral, material and intellectual emancipation.

There aren’t many Communist countries left. Have you visited any of them?

No.

Chile is pretty affluent. Why do you think it needs to change?

Our country’s GDP per capita is $15000, but this wealth is not reflected on the majority of the people. 5% of the richest people earn 800 times more than the 5% at the bottom of the income scale. The fact that people are discontent is not just an abstract idea, but the result of specific material conditions. We must begin a thorough debate about what we understand by development and which kind of development model we want. Do we want a model like the current neoliberal one, which brings concentration of economic, cultural and political power? Or a model that fully allows the development of all human beings, allows us to enjoy a better quality of life, and lets us live in dignity with our rights guaranteed?

On a recent trip to Germany, you were always accompanied by Communist party officials. Don’t they trust you to speak alone?

We’ve always been a collective, nothing is developed nor worked individually and all the different ideas are not thought out only by one person they are a collective result. Our work is integrated in all areas. This, unlike what the media shows daily, is not due to one person but to a whole movement. But I don’t think anyone is afraid if I speak by myself.

Do you think the Communist revolution will spread beyond Chile? 

We believe in a non-violent way of Communism, so we don’t think there is a need for our country to have an armed revolution. That’s precisely why we are betting for democratization in Chile. Our way, with our strategies. The model that our country needs must go through democratization, throughout the empowerment of the Chilean people. In Chile we see Communism rather distant but it is emerging, it is moving forward to a successful democratization process.

Do you think the movement could spread to other Latin American countries?

In this region there are different stages of our history that are very much alike. We have gone through military dictatorships and colonization by the United States and Europe. Latin American countries have been trying to create independent states, both politically and economically, recover their independence and start to rescue their own identity. We in the student movement have conferences to define strategies and policies. We also have certain suggestions regarding how to unify of the student movement in the labor market, how to recover education rights, keep fighting against repression, and to continue our struggle against imperialism, capitalism or neoliberalism, depending on the country. But we aren’t just a Chilean or Latin American phenomenon – similar movements are happening in Europe and worldwide.

FACTBOX:

Name: Camila Vallejo

Age: 24

Background: Daughter of Communist activists; grew up in communes.

In the news: President of the University of Chile Student Federation. Latin America’s most recognizable Communist leader.

By Alejandra , Metro Chile