Convulsive start to Chile’s drafting of new constitution

By Patricia Nieto Marino

Santiago de Chile, Jul 4 (EFE).- Chile began Sunday the drafting of its new constitution after a turbulent day, marked by citizen protests and a group of constituents, which forced the temporary suspension of the inaugural act.

The country managed to open a new chapter in its history after the 155 members that make up the constitutional convention took office to draft the new document, the first to stem from a democratic process. It will replace the current one, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990.)

“I want to thank all the Chilean people for voting for a Mapuche person and a woman to change Chile. This convention will transform the country and make it plurinational and intercultural,” said Elisa Loncon, an academic, linguist and indigenous woman elected as the president of the constituent body.

With a weakened right wing, which only holds 38 of the 155 seats, and the rise of independent candidates – most progressive – the convention will have to put a country strongly affected by a threatening social and institutional crisis on track.

A group of constituents refused to take their seat at the beginning of the act and shouted, demanding a stop to what they called “police repression” against protesters on the outskirts of the enclosure, forcing the meeting to be suspended for almost an hour.

Massive peaceful marches were carried out hours before in different parts of the capital, called mostly by constituents or groups of sympathizers, but there were also some isolated disturbances near the old National Congress, where the act was held.

Some left-wing constituents called on agents to withdraw and denounced that there was repression and even attacks on some of those elected, although, finally and after partially calming the situation abroad, the ceremony resumed.

“Special Forces are the ones that provoke the reaction of the people and their intervention was not the best way to appease the spirits, but the government did not understand it,” lawmaker Fernando Atria said.

Marcela Cubillos, the lawmaker with the greatest symbolism among conservatives, said the stoppage of the celebration was “a bad sign” and added that in the drafting of the text “dialogue and responsibility must prevail.”

The constituent process was born in 2019 as an agreement between parties to ease the greatest social crisis in three decades of democracy, which began in October of that year with massive protests for a fairer socioeconomic model, which left at least 30 deaths. EFE


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