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Chile’s president receives draft constitution

#Chiles #president #receives #draft #constitution

After a year of work, Chile’s new draft constitution will be officially presented to President Gabriel Boric on Monday before it finally faces a referendum in the deeply polarized country.

The new text, which will replace the constitution drafted during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), aims to establish new social rights.

It was drafted by a constituent assembly of 154 mostly politically independent citizens, which will be dissolved exactly one year to the day after work begins on July 4, 2021.

The document will then be put to a referendum on September 4, where 15 million Chileans will have to vote to decide whether to accept or reject the new constitution.

Rewriting the dictatorship-era constitution was a key demand from protesters who took to the streets in 2019 and held weekly demonstrations for months before the coronavirus pandemic curtailed them.

In the first of the 388 articles of the new constitution, Chile is described as “a social and democratic constitutional state” and as “plurinational, intercultural and ecological”.

“It recognizes the dignity, freedom, substantial equality of human beings and their indissoluble relationship with nature as intrinsic and inalienable values.”

“I think we have matched the social demands with the citizens’ desires, which is what people hoped and wanted from this process,” Communist Party MP Barbara Sepulveda told AFP.

“It’s a proposal that represents a historic step forward in terms of democracy and ensuring social rights for our country, and on top of that it’s filled head to toe with feminism,” added Alondra Carrillo of the left Broad Front.

Other right-wing members were less enthusiastic.

For Cristian Monckeberg, this is a “missed” opportunity to “build something that unites the country instead of dividing it.”

But with just 37 seats out of 154 in the Constituent Assembly, the political right was in the minority.

The process “wasn’t as easy and friendly as many of us would have wished and dreamed of,” writer and journalist Patricio Fernandez, one of the 104 independent members of the assembly, told AFP.

– ‘From another time’ –

However, as a two-thirds majority was required for the adoption of each article, even when tensions arose, dialogue and compromise were the only source of resolution.

And if approved, the constitution will make Chile one of the most progressive countries in the region.

Nationwide abortion rights – something that has been overturned in the United States – would be enshrined in law.

“It’s a constitution from another time. I truly believe that if she is approved, as we look back at this process … she will be viewed with much more tenderness and affection than we see her now,” Fernandez said.

The constituent assembly, divided equally between men and women, also contained 17 seats reserved for indigenous people, who make up around 13 percent of Chile’s 19 million people.

One of those members, Natividad Llanquileo, an activist from Chile’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuche, said the constitutional process was “the most democratic space we have known in the history of this country.”

In addition to recognizing the diverse peoples that make up the Chilean nation, the new constitution grants a degree of autonomy to indigenous institutions, particularly in matters of the judiciary.

Millennial leader Boric has repeatedly reiterated his support for the constitutional project in recent weeks, adding that the current document poses an “obstacle” to deep social reforms.

Despite this, several opinion polls suggest that the new constitution could still be rejected. With the full text yet to be released, many Chileans say they are unsure.

Over the next two months, proponents of the change “have to work to ensure that it will really change people’s lives, while rejection will try to win over more moderate sectors,” explains Claudio Fuentes, political scientist at Diego Portales University, told AFP .

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