Chilean Constitution Reform

A hope for Progress in Chile

By Akshaye Mavinkurve 

In 1970, Salvador Allende was elected as the first Marxist-Socialist leader in Chile. His reforms to Chilean society lifted up the population from poverty as he worked on ensuring all Chileans had access to quality healthcare, education and a social safety net in times of economic distress. He did this by nationalising many industries giving the people of Chile control over resources. This had distressed MNCs from the United States, who lost access to the natural minerals found heavily in Chile. In response to seeing a successful socialist project work, the United States decided to overthrow Allende’s democratically elected government with the help of General Augusto Pinochet and in September 1973, Pinochet and the US completed a successful coup d’état. Chile under Pinochet saw Chile’s resources being exploited by MNCs while the people of Chile had to suffer authoritarian rule and live under the dictatorship of Pinochet. Pinochet was ultimately thrown out of government after the people were given the opportunity of a referendum.

Photo by Tomas Munita for The New York Times

But while Pinochet and his bureaucrats have long gone, his reforms still loom large in Chile. Despite the end of the Pinochet regiment, his free market policies reduced the quality of life for the working class Chileans. The people of Chile have been disappointed due to a lack of concrete change in the system and thus 2019 saw a growing political movement in Chile. The uprising in Chile is built on a strong progressive foundation that provides a voice to women, the LGTBQ+ community and religious and cultural minorities. The new constitution that will be drafted will include bold progressive reforms that address key issues faced by Chileans. The constitution will not only be economically progressive but even socially progressive as half of the elected drafting committee will be women who plan to include more progressive reforms like legalisation and accessibility to abortion. The constitution will include perspectives of people from the LGBTQ+ Community and gender non-conforming people.

The committee is designed to have gender parity. Out of the 155 seats, 78 are men, while 77 are women. There are also seats that were reserved for the indigenous communities. It is one of the youngest democratically elected assembly with the average age of the assembly 45 years. 6 members of the assembly are individuals from LGBTQ+ community. The assembly includes people from all backgrounds including people from the working class, feminist, LGBTQ+, and environmental activists.

This is one of the most pivotal moments in Chilean history since the coup d’état. This is the right step for Chile to move forward and to right the wrongs of the Pinochet regime but there is still a long way to go as it all starts now, the committee must draft a new constitution in 9 months and must draft it in a politically tumultuous time. It has the support of the Chilean people to reform the political and social tenets of Chilean society. With this responsibility, it must draft a constitution that reforms the civil, political, social, economic, and cultural structures to make sure all Chilean people feel included in these structures.

Photo for The New York Times

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