Plebiscite in Chile: Chileans finalize the Constitution imposed by Pinochet on Sunday

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All the polls predict that a large majority will support the drafting of a new Magna Carta; a direct consequence of the social outbreak of 2019.

Chileans will repeal on Sunday the neoliberal Constitution promoted by the Pinochet dictatorship in 1980. All surveys predict that a large majority will support the writing of a new Magna Carta –Which is predicted to be of a social and democratic nature– in a plebiscite as a direct consequence of the social outbreak which began a year ago and has left very violent scenes, such as the recent burning of two churches in Santiago.

The citizen revolt began on October 18, 2019 with the protests of young people who refused to pay the increase of the equivalent of four cents of a euro in the Santiago metro ticket.

The demonstrations and riots spread and became entrenched throughout the country, rising up in the streets all claims accumulated since the so-called penguin revolution of 2006, when high school students mobilized to defend free education.

Since that year, all kinds of progressive movements emerged: for the right to education, health or public pensions, for job improvements, for the rich to pay more taxes, against corruption, for free university studies, for lawsuits regional autonomy, for the right to water, for the defense of the environment, for the rights of the Mapuche people, for the democratization of Parliament …

… against mining or hydroelectric exploitation, against the high costs of public transport or even against the tolls of urban highways.

And all those demands collided over and over with the current Constitution that, although it has already been amended fifty times since the democratic restoration of 1990, it continues shielding private property and the right to a free market to the extreme.

The impossibility of a structural change also led to the birth of a citizen movement for a new Magna Carta, which became a campaign promise for Michelle Bachelet in her second term (2014-18). Five days before leaving office, the Socialist president sent Congress a fundamental draft text, which was cornered because there was no real will of the left and right political barons of touch the model current economic.

“The dictatorship had the problem of how to ensure the subsistence of the economic model it was implementing to blood and fire when power was held by democracy; and the solution was the Constitution, which established a political regime that could not make decisions transformers ”, explains from Santiago to La Vanguardia Santiago Fernando Atria, professor of Law at the University of Chile.

“When it comes to social rights, education, health, social security …, the Constitution ensures market conditions and it imposes on the state the duty to ensure that there is a market ”, he adds. Atria cites another example of the fundamental text, which “declares that there are private property rights over water use rights and this has led to a purely market regulation of water; that is practically non-existent in the rest of the world ”.

In addition, the current Magna Carta includes complex mechanisms that, in practice, give veto power to the right and hinders reforms.

“To modify the organic laws, which are called constitutional and contain the neoliberal model, for example the organic law of education, the four sevenths of the senators and deputies in office, it is an extremely exaggerated quorum ”, indicates Atria. And until an amendment was approved in 2005, there were senators for life (Pinochet himself) or designated by institutions (four for the armed forces).

“The Constitution is neoliberal both in its content and in the fact that it configures a policy that cannot effectively make any transformative decisions, and that itself has been undermining its legitimacy; today we are in a situation of radical deligitimization of the entire institutional policy: the political parties, Parliament, the President of the Republic, etc. ”, assures Atria.

Atria founded Fuerza Común, a progressive party of which he is president, integrated into the leftist Frente Amplio coalition, and with which he intends to run in the elections of April 11, 2021, in which the conventional constituents of the constituent assembly will be elected. he will write the new Magna Carta in a maximum period of one year.

A text that, according to Atria, should be comparable to European constitutions that establish a “social and democratic state of law, where the state has the duty to guarantee social rights” and that also implants “a different economic development model”.

By Robert Mur



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