Chile, a Latin American country, has set a new precedent before the democratic powers of the world. In the referendum that took place there on Sunday, 78% of the population voted yes and confirmed that the country’s constitution would be rewritten. Apart from that, he also made sure that all the authors of the new constitution would be elected by adult suffrage. No representation will be found in this Constituent Assembly, from parliament to the military to the existing power structure. On April 11 next year, voters across the country will vote again to elect 155 people who will be responsible for crafting a new constitution for the country over the next nine months. If necessary, this Constituent Assembly will have the right to extend its mandate once for three months. After that, there will be a referendum on this new constitution in 2022.
Behind the referendum
The big question, however, is what forced the well-run government to hold a referendum on the issue of amending the constitution. What all governments around the world love the most is the status quo. The constitution under which the government is in power has the power to make a referendum unnecessary to change it, there is no such a stupid idiot. The current president of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, also made this decision under duress. The forced protests of ordinary Chilean citizens forced them. The process of these protests began last year over the minor issue of increasing the price of the metro in the capital Santiago, but other serious issues have become increasingly involved. These were issues that had long been raised by the Chileans, but they didn’t have a fair chance to get out. The biggest problem was the ever-growing disparity in Chilean society. Over the past two decades, Chile has made good progress on the economic front. It is the richest country in South America in terms of per capita income. But instead of eliminating the scarcity, poverty and helplessness of the rich society, it turned out to be the only one to increase it. A large part of the peasants fight for basic amenities such as education, health and housing. Therefore, through the movement, the people of Santiago arrived at the following question: why is the increase in the price of the metro so important to them? Why have all the comforts of life remained beyond their reach? These questions have led the movement to a fundamental understanding that the increasing interference of the private sector in education, health, housing and pensions goes against the interests of ordinary citizens. The next step was the declaration that at the heart of these anti-popular policies is the constitution which is the product of the military regime of General Augusto Pinoshe. Although there have been amendments from time to time, they are insufficient. That is why the country should have a new constitution.
With this demand, it didn’t take long to leave Santiago and spread throughout the country. With the epidemic, it has also become more dense. No day goes by when large numbers of people across the country do not take to the streets to protest. The police tried to suppress him, but this intensified the protest. Finally in November 2019, the president announced the holding of a referendum before the agitators. It was supposed to take place in April, but due to Corona it had to be postponed to October. Eventually it happened and it gave new direction to the country’s agenda.
It should be noted that Chile has a long history of unique experiences involving democratic values with the left agenda. Salvador Allende was the President of Chile in the early 1970s. He was the first Marxist leader to lead a democratically elected government in the countries of Latin America. But he was overthrown in a CIA-backed military coup in 1973. Allende was killed, democratic rule ended, and General Pinoshe’s dictatorship began, which held the country for a decade and a half.
This motion by President Allende has been a lesson for the left movement around the world, which has established suspicion among its cadres of democratic methods as a necessity. However, the Chilean society itself has done democratically to assume the military dictatorship resulting from the assassination of President Allende. It took a long time, but it ended in a referendum held in 1988. Elections have been held in Chile since the 1990s, governments have also changed, but the constitution has remained the same as Pinoshe’s.
Old ghost question
Naturally, the anger of ordinary Chileans arose out of this constitution. It is believed to be the root of the so-called anti-popular policies of governments. But the main question is whether the new constitution frees a society from old ghosts? If we look at the experience of neighboring countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, then Pakistan has not been able to escape the pursuit of President Zia-ul-Haq, who had created a ghost of religious fundamentalism in through Sharia law. Afghanistan only declared the constitution ruled by the Taliban as Khudahafiz in 2004, but it is still not possible for women to live there openly. It is clear that the battle to change the real agenda of society and the country is not won by any election or referendum. For this, a large part of the citizens must constantly wake up after losing sleep in their eyes.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are those of the author