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Goodbye to the Pinochet-era Constitution

Impressions and expectations from social movements after massive support for a new constitution in Chile

With 78% of votes, the Chilean people have opted to change the current Constitution, which has been in force since 1980 under Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. The same percentage of people supported doing this through a Constituent Convention (instead of a mixed convention), whose candidates will be elected on 11 April 2021. From that moment on, the convention will have almost a year to discuss and draft a new text, which will be ratified or rejected in a plebiscite on 1 August 2022.

Sunday’s result means that people will be able to choose all of the constituent delegates who will draft the new constitution, with gender parity (50% men, 50% women) and reserved seats for native peoples.

A huge victory

From Santiago, Chile, Ximena Salinas, the Chair of CODEFF-Friends of the Earth Chile was interviewed by Real World Radio. She told us about how the vote happened in Santiago: “This is the second time since democracy was restored that we see huge levels of people participating in a vote. This encourages us to start on this wonderful journey of building a Constitution together, with equal representation of men and women and seats for indigenous peoples. This is something new that we can elaborate together, without the elitist group imposing an oppressive Constitution which has had such terrible impacts on our quality of life.”

“For the first time, we really feel like people will be able to get involved,” said Ximena Salinas from CODEFF.

Víctor Bahamonde, MAR


Meanwhile, Víctor Bahamonde, from the Movement of People Affected by Dams in Latin America (MAR), and also a member of the Movement for the Defence of Water, Land and the Environment, stated:

“Reaching this Constituent Convention implies huge challenges. The 25 October vote was held in a context of repression and struggle by peoples across country, who are resisting the authoritarian spin of Sebastian Piñera, whose administration is delegitimised in this scenario.”

No more Pinochet-era Constitution: What elements, articles or proposals should the new Chilean Constitution include?

“We expect to incorporate issues related to social and environmental justice,” said Salinas. “We will build a Constitution that is more just, with equal representation. CODEFF wants to develop a new constitution that incorporates the rights of nature, in order to build a new relationship with it, without the abuses of extractivism. In essence, it is an important step towards changing the dominant capitalist model and establishing a new way of building relations in economic terms and defining the concept of development in an equal and just way.”

“For those who voted against the new Constitution, this change brings a lot of uncertainty due to the changes in the concept of “private property” and the abusive forms of enrichment enjoyed for many years by people linked to the groups in power, especially in the production sector of our country,” concluded the Chair of CODEFF.

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