A Defeat for Neoliberalism! Chile To Get a New Constitution, Government and Opposition Agree
Nov. 15, 2019 (EIRNS)—In a major victory for the Chilean people who have been out on the streets protesting for almost four weeks, in the wee hours of this morning, representatives of the government and the opposition announced, after a marathon meeting, an “Agreement for Peace and a New Constitution,” with a commitment to begin the process of drafting an entirely new constitution to replace the one imposed in 1980 by fascist dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. It was that 1980 document, authored by a follower of Hitler’s “Crown Jurist” Carl Schmitt, that provided the legal framework for imposition of the “Chicago Boys” Mont Pelerinite economic program which for 40 years has viciously deprived Chileans of their most basic economic and political rights.
The agreement states that a plebiscite will be held in April 2020, in which citizens will vote on a new constitution, and then decide on either a mixed constitutional convention (consisting of 50% of congressmen and 50% citizens elected for that purpose), or a constitutional convention in which all participants are elected, to write the new document. Members will be chosen in October, followed by a nine-month period in which the constitution will be written.
This morning, Santiago’s Plaza Italia, the site of mass protests, and especially of the historic Oct. 26 demonstration of 1.2 million, was entirely draped in a white sheet reading “Paz” (“Peace”). As the daily El Siglo observed, overturning the 1980 Constitution has been a demand of the Chilean people for decades. Now, the holding of a plebiscite “and the fact that the door has been opened to a new Constitution is a defeat for the right wing, for those conservative sectors, ... and a triumph for progressive, democratic and transformative forces.”
Just 36 hours before the marathon that produced the agreement, Santiago had been convulsed by a huge general strike and widespread protest that shut down the city. President Sebastián Piñera, who for weeks had resisted the demand to throw out the 1980 Constitution, finally realized he had no option but to relent. Chileans had made clear that anything less than an entirely new Constitution meant continued protest.
There is hard work ahead, however. Sen. Jose Ossandon, from the right-wing National Renewal Party, part of Piñera’s ruling coalition, emphasized to El Mostrador that the debate isn’t over, and that many issues remain to be addressed right away: ending political privileges, pocketbook issues, and social justice and respect for human rights. Deputy Gabriel Boric, from the Broad Front, specified that pensions, wages, inequality, and decent quality of life must be addressed now.