Chile’s constitution vote may create a new course for the country

The unrest has roasted a country as “one of Latin America’s fastest growing economies” by the World Bank, but where the government’s policies in favor of the rich have been deep-seated.
It is to decide on Sunday for a referendum that the country should change its 40-year-old constitution, which was written during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinoshe.
Chilean-born Professor of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University, Patricio Navia, said many Chileans could be considered unacceptable by a document written during one of the darkest chapters in Chilean history.

“It’s like someone who owns a beautiful house, but they don’t want it anymore because it was built by a father who was a rapist. It’s not that the house is bad. It’s that it’s Was made by the father, ”he said. .

In May 1984, President General Augusto Pinoshe addresses supporters in Santiago.

“Writing the new constitution is an act of atonement,” Navia said. “Since Chile has not put Pinoshe in jail for human rights violations, they now want to kill the constitution as a kind of historical test against her.”

Pinchett died at the age of 91 in 2006, after pleading not guilty to any crimes. However, opponents say that more than 3,000 people died as a result of political violence under his rule, particularly during “Operation Condor”, a campaign against political dissidents in the mid-1970s, including many Whose body or fate was never known. Many more thousands were tortured in secret detention centers or threatened in exile.

Why are Chileans protesting today? The World Bank noted that the country’s “solid macroeconomic framework” allowed Chile to reduce the number of people living in poverty from 30% in 2000 to 3.7% in 2000. But, according to analysts who spoke to CNN, widespread inequality has been produced. Outrage among those marginalized and unable to share in the wealth of the country. The OECD reported in 2018 that the difference in income inequality was 65% above the average income of the richest 10% and the poorest 10%, with the organization’s average “one of the highest ratios”.

“Not only is he not getting a piece of cake, but he is also not invited to the party,” said Naviya. “And the demand for a new constitution is fine, the demand to invite the party.”

After the fall of military dictatorship in 1990, a new constitution was created by the first leftist leaders. President Ricardo Lagos promoted the biggest reforms in 2005 – and the current constitution includes more than 250 amendments – and the idea of ​​a referendum in the 2009 campaign for the first time was seriously discussed for the presidency.

“There is currently a serious legitimacy problem,” said Gabriel Boric, one of the leftist legislators who pushed for a referendum. “On the one hand, we are pressing social needs such as pensions, reducing salaries to legislators, raising taxes on the rich, reducing the cost of utilities. On the other hand, there is a deeper question about leveling the playing field. It What is the general framework. Who controls all of us? ”
More than 14.8 million Chileans are eligible to vote on Sunday and several polls show that at least 70% of the parties are drafting a new constitution. If approved, it will take more than a year to write a new text.

Chile is not only deciding whether they can get a new constitution, but who is writing it and how. If a new constitution is approved as expected, a constitutional assembly will be elected in April 2021, at the same time municipal and regional elections are expected to take place.

People protest against changing the constitution in Santiago on 21 October.

For Camilla Velozzo, a member of the Communist Party of the Chamber of Deputies and an alumni leader, writing a new constitution is about social justice.

“This is not only about education and health, but also the high cost of electricity bills, expensive fuel and public transport. Chile is the only country in the world where water has been completely privatized. We have a highly There is the neoliberal model, which has deepened inequality. ” Vallejo told the Chilean news website Cenital.

But others say that writing a new constitution may not be the best way to solve Chile’s problems that are similar to the challenges facing other Latin American countries, including lack of sustainable development, poor job creation and spatial inequality. Huh.

Pedro Pizano, a public interest legal fellow at the Macron Institute for International Leadership, says getting rid of the current constitution “is not only a bad idea, it’s a terrible way to try to change the desire of many Chileans.”

The Columbia-born analyst says his own country tried the experiment in 1991, gathering 100 people to write a new constitution in five months with mixed results.

Everything Chile wants, Pizano said, “can be addressed by amendments like we have done in the United States rather than rewriting the entire text.”

“Can anyone create prosperity and fairness from a blank slate? Why hasn’t the US changed its constitution, even though we have amended it 27 times? Israel and the United Kingdom have not formed a written constitution. Yet they are in some ways . Examples of liberal, democratic countries. And this is what we want, “Pizano said, noting that the best written constitution does not guarantee Chile everything.

NYU professor Navia said legislators should focus on improving the economy.

“You can’t write it in the constitution that there will be a better pension. You need the money for the pension first. And you can get it with better development, more foreign investment and many other reforms that can create a new constitution. . It’s more difficult to get it. “


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