The reasons why Chileans are opposing the new constitutional draft

By Sebastian Silva

Santiago, Aug 3 (EFE).- The multinational character of the state, the elimination of the Senate, the character of the justice system, the greater presence of the state in people’s daily lives and freely available abortion are some of the elements of the new constitutional draft that are creating the most uncertainty among Chileans, according to those who are pushing for rejection of the document drafted by 154 democratically elected officials.

Most Chileans support the option of rejecting the new charter, according to recent voter surveys, but that trend is declining while the “yes” option to accept it is gaining ground among a large number of the country’s undecided voters.

Although in the Sept. 4 referendum on whether or not to accept the new document there will only be two options, the notion is becoming embedded in society that no matter what the result, constitutional reform will still move forward after the vote.

In that regard, 60 social organizations this week inaugurated the “Citizens Rejection Club,” a group lobbying for the “no” vote.

“Many of these movements and their causes participated in the constitutional process via popular initiatives, but regrettably they were not listened to. This text is not a proposal that unites us as Chileans and so, with great hopes, we’ll go out into civil society to say that we want to keep moving forward,” said the group’s spokesman, Claudio Salinas.

The former governor of Cautin province, Mapuche attorney Richard Caifal, criticized the fact that the proposal appears to be a “swing proposition, moving from a state that guarantees freedoms to one that’s omnipresent.”

“We’re falling into excessive statism … The current state guarantees individuals that they can engage in any economic activity and the proposal eliminates that possibility,” Caifal told EFE.

Stephania Jeldrez, the spokesperson for “Con mi plata no” (Not with my money), an organization defending the individual ownership of the pension funds administered by private companies (AFP), also criticized the greater role of the state in people’s daily lives, as set forth in the document.

“I don’t have any hope for state-run things. In the case of pensions, nobody’s assuring us that the state will be able to make the funds profitable like the AFPs do,” she told EFE.

The group presented one of the proposals that garnered the highest number of signatures, but it was rejected by the Constitutional Convention drafting the new charter.

Caifal, who heads the Rakizuam Foundation, an institution devoted to “intercultural dialogue,” the text “presents situations that are very complicated to understand” and which “have generated much uncertainty among the public.”

“For example, multinationality. It’s still not completely understood what the implications of that would be. We’re not seeing greater complexity in the concept but rather in the contents,” he said.

The text recognizes 11 indigenous nations in Chile and opens up the door “to others who may be recognized, as established by law.”

One of those controversial implications is the “coexistence” of indigenous judicial systems with the National System of justice, under the umbrella of the Supreme Court.

“There are criticisms that point to the weakness of the judicial branch and the creation of two parallel systems, which results in a lack of understanding or in the partial reading of the proposed rules,” Jose Antonio Ramirez, who holds a doctorate in constitutional law and is a professor at O’Higgins University, told EFE.

“Judicial work takes into consideration the customs and traditions of the original peoples, but that doesn’t mean different criminal and civil laws,” he said.

Similarly, the elimination of the Senate and moving to an “asymmetric bicameral” system and the circumstances under which abortions may be performed are also sparking resistance among the traditional parties.

According to the non-governmental organization Digital Rights, in the first quarter of this year 58 percent of the public admitted to receiving fake news about the Constitutional Convention, mostly via the social networks.

The scenario has not changed since then, with countless complaints being made about the fake news that continues to inundate the media and the social networks, mainly spread by rightist groups, Madgalena Saldaña, a professor with the Catholic University of Chile, said.

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