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US News Chile: the Constitution of Pinochet may be living its last days

14:00  24 october  2020
14:00  24 october  2020 Source:   liberation.fr

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Chile ’s 1980 constitution has been criticised since its inception as fatally compromised by its links to a dictatorship guilty of political murder, torture and mass incarceration. And when protests over metro fares escalated into a nationwide uprising last year, many demonstrators singled out the constitution

In Chile , millions of voters are about to make a decision that could dramatically reshape the country. Protests in recent years have forced Chilean leaders to schedule a referendum on whether to rewrite the constitution , a document that dates back to the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet .

Lors d'une manifestation féministe en faveur d'une nouvelle Constitution à Valparaiso, le 14 octobre. © RODRIGO GARRIDO During a feminist demonstration in favor of a new Constitution in Valparaiso, on October 14th. The "yes" to a new Constitution is given overwhelmingly a winner in the polls leading up to Sunday's poll, the largest since the end of the dictatorship in 1990.

As confinement was lifted from the month of 'August, protests gradually resumed in Santiago . Near the historic center, supporters of a new Constitution have returned to “place of dignity,” so renamed since the historic October 2019 protest against social inequalities. They were at least 25,000 on October 18 for the first anniversary of the mobilization, the largest gathering since the start of the pandemic, and the most violent: the day ended with clashes that left one dead, apparently killed by the police. Businesses were looted and two churches burned.

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Chileans will go to the polls on Sunday to vote on whether they want to swap a constitution written during the Pinochet dictatorship in favor of a new document Those opposed to a new constitution argue it represents a "leap into the void" to change a document that has helped make Chile one of the

Chile is a country used to earthquakes, but few expected the shake-up in Chilean society that we have seen this past year. In just 12 months, Chile went from being an "oasis of stability", as President Sebastián Piñera described it, to a country about to tear up its old constitution and re-write the rules.

On Saturday mornings, it is the far right, nostalgic for the dictatorship of General Pinochet (1973-1990) which protests. Several hundred supporters of the current Constitution gather in the capital's business districts, under a gigantic Chilean flag, or even wearing "Make Chile Great Again" caps. "The Constitution has been amended dozens of times since the 1990s, we cannot say that it is not legitimate," said Nicolas, 31. He castigates the urban riots that accompanied the social protest of October 2019. "In this context, if we approve a new Constitution, we are rewarding violence," he said.

"A very severe blow to neoliberal thought"

This Sunday, 14 million voters will have to say whether they approve or refuse the idea of ​​drafting a new constitution. They will also be invited to specify what type of assembly would be responsible for drafting the new text: a mixed convention (half composed of parliamentarians already in office) or a constituent assembly, composed solely of citizens elected especially for the occasion.

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Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (/ˈpiːnoʊʃeɪ/, also US: /-ʃɛt, ˌpiːnoʊˈ(t)ʃɛt/, UK: /ˈpiːnəʃeɪ, ˈpɪn-/, Spanish: [awˈɣusto pinoˈ(t)ʃe(t)]; 25 November 1915 – 10 December 2006) was a Chilean general

The day before General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende, on September 11, 1973 Just days after the coup, a member of Pinochet ’s junta asked Guzmán to join a small group of lawyers who were drafting a new constitution , to replace the

The polls published in recent months credit the “yes” to a new Constitution with more than 60% of voting intentions. Despite the pandemic, "we also expect a turnout of around 60%, higher than in the last elections," anticipates Alfredo Joignant, professor of political science at Diego Portales University. A "yes" victory would in his eyes be "a very severe blow to neoliberal thought", transcribed in the current Constitution, inherited from Pinochet's time.

Thousands of neighborhood assemblies

The text was adopted in 1981, in the midst of a dictatorship, against a backdrop of arrests, torture, and murder of thousands of regime opponents. The referendum was marked at the time by massive electoral fraud. Since the start of the social protest in October 2019, thousands of neighborhood assemblies have been spontaneously organized by Chileans to jointly discuss the content of a possible new Constitution. Access to social rights, feminism, the rights of indigenous peoples, the environment, and even police violence are some of the central themes put forward by residents during these assemblies.

If the “yes” to a new Constitution wins this Sunday, it is around these issues that the campaign for the election of the Constituent Assembly, scheduled for April 2021, should revolve. first time in the history of Chile that we will be able to debate almost everything in a democratically elected constituent assembly ”, enthuses Alfredo Joignant.

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© Issouf SANOGO A resident in the street in Abidjan, October 16, 2020 "I do not want to relive what 'we lived in 2010 ": Véronique Yao, trader in Abidjan, decided to flee the Ivorian capital with her young son, fearing deadly violence during the presidential election on Saturday. © Evelyne AKA IMAGES Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara arrives at his last meeting before the election on Saturday.

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