Conflicts & War

Chile begins drafting new constitution on 2nd anniversary of social uprising

By Patricia Nieto Mariño

Santiago de Chile, Oct 18 (EFE).- Thousands of people attended a demonstration in Chile’s capital city to commemorate the second anniversary of the 2019 social uprising,

The event symbolically coincided with the beginning of the drafting of the new constitution.

The demonstration took place in a festive atmosphere in the central Plaza Italia of Santiago on a date that marks the beginning of a wave of protests, triggering the current constituent process and opened a new chapter in the country’s history.

There wasn’t much police presence nor the usual water and gas throwing trucks as the demonstrators protested against the government and called for a more just socio-economic model and the release of protesters detained for months.

There were some clashes with the police and some looting attempts.

But in general, the demonstration was peaceful.

A small group unsuccessfully tried to enter the vicinity of the former national congress building, where the constitutional convention, after three months of discussions on its regulations and other technical issues, began drafting the new Magna Carta.

“For the first time, the people of Chile have sat together at a table to discuss and think about a country where dignity will become customary,” Mapuche academic Elisa Loncón, who is heading the convention, said.

“This convention will propose a new Constitution, but also a new political practice that is built with a collaborative spirit,” leftist Jaime Bassa, vice-president of the 155-member constituent body, added.

During the day, smaller marches took place in other parts of the capital, where over 5,000 troops stood guard.

The new constitution must be ready in a year and ratified in a referendum.

The new constitution could replace the existing one inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and with a neoliberal bend.

Chileans blame the existing constitution, reformed several times, for inequalities and privatization of pension, water, and health services.

For more than a year, some 30 deaths and thousands of injured have occurred in countless episodes of violence.

Security forces have allegedly used excessive force and committed human rights violations in quelling public protests.

“We don’t want more deaths nor injured, no blinded or damaged eyes, no repression, no vandalism. Demonstrating cannot be synonymous with danger,” lawyer and constituent member Patricia Politzer tweeted.

Chile has been one of the most politically and economically stable countries in the region.

In the last two years, a political and institutional crisis has rocked the government of conservative President Sebastián Piñera.

The president has approval ratings of less than 20 percent, according to recent surveys. EFE

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