Santiago de Chile. The new constitution will be voted in Chile on September 4. This vote is the result of a long phase of social and environmental protests in Chile. The reform would shake the neo-liberal principles of Chilean society and therefore the right is fiercely opposed to it.
The final text of the constitution was presented in early July. Previously, it had been worked out for over a year in a constitutional convention that included members of civil society. The text reflects the fundamental demands of the social and environmental movements of recent decades, while striking at the heart of the current economic model.
After the overthrow of socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973, the 1980 constitution aimed to establish once and for all economically liberal principles as the guiding principles of society. As a result, he protected private business interests in the field of social infrastructure and ecological resources. The right to private property is paramount.
The “father” of this constitution, Jaime Guzmán, said it was written in such a way that, even if a political opponent were to come to power, the range of alternative policies would be extremely small.
The constitution was also secured by criminal law, such as the anti-terrorist act of the dictatorship, which is still used today against activists of the political opposition.
Following the transition to democracy in the 1990s, resistance in Chile has grown enormously since the turn of the millennium. Young people, in particular, pupils and students, by the thousands, demonstrated against the high costs of the private education system and the resulting enormous debt of private households. There were protests of retirees against the privatized pension system, in which over a million people took part.
A large proportion of the population also took part in demonstrations by the feminist movement and on environmental issues such as water deprivation.
The protests culminated in the “Estallido Social” (social outbreak) in late October 2019, which brought millions of people to the streets and could only be stopped by the deployment of a military and the outbreak of the Crown pandemic.
The rebellion made it clear that social and environmental movements are protesting not only in defense of particular interests, but against the general social inequality that is the result of a largely privatized society in which large corporations profit from the exploitation of domestic resources and money. ordinary people.
The binding constitution is the basis of this social order. Changing them became the main postulate of the uprising.
One of the results of October 2019 was the start of the constitutional process. The text is now available to the public for discussion and voting. Thanks to it, education, health, the pension system, the right to water, and to some extent also the country’s resources, could soon be removed from the dominance of the private sector.
The state can be considered multinational, which is a significant change considering that the previous constitution did not recognize the existence of the largest indigenous group, the Mapuche. In addition, the Senate, the parliamentary chamber that was supposed to ensure political continuity after the dictatorship, is to be replaced by a regional chamber, which would mean the decentralization of political power concentrated in the capital city of Santiago.
The political right has already settled down and is mobilizing to oppose the reform.
According to critics, their campaign is based primarily on disinformation and fueling fear. Reports also show that campaign funding is very uneven: the rejection campaign received 99 percent of previous donations.
Outgoing President Gabriel Boric, who has been accused of having the right to campaign for the approval of a new constitution despite his commitment to neutrality, calls for a “informed vote” on September 4. He also announced that in the event of rejection, a new constitutional trial would be initiated.
While the right is trying to mobilize its base and embarking on a tour of different regions of the country, the leftist coalition “Aprueba x Chile” (Approval for Chile) has managed to unite 130 social and cultural organizations and actors.
At the same time, the “Apruebo Nueva Constitución” alliance was formed from around 100 organizations of social movements which are considered decentralized and independent and do not cooperate directly with the ruling parties. Among the organizations involved are the feminist alliance Coordinadora Feminista 8M, which has been strongly present in recent years of protests, the movement to defend access to water, land and the environment, a number of trade unions and the Mapuche Women’s Association. According to a spokeswoman for the alliance, its main goal is to highlight those fighting for a new constitution who have historically always been excluded.