Chile. A referendum to turn the Pinochet page

Chile is up against the wall. This Sunday, Chileans will vote for or against a new 178-page Constitution, which will replace Pinochet’s. It had been imposed by force of arms in 1980 during the military dictatorship. “The worst thing is the violence of the current Constitution, which does not allow us to act and continually imprisons us socially and politically”says Jose.

The concern remains. The right did not wait for the end of the work of the Constituent Assembly to embark on an all-out campaign: against the Convention, against its work, against the constituents, against the Plurinational State (see interview). Since March, all the polling institutes have given a majority to the Rechazo (the no to the Constitution). The right has centered its discourse on class hatred, anti-Indian racism. In the past two months, she has multiplied the lies and the waves of misinformation “She said that the Chilean flag, the national anthem was going to be changed. That with the new Constitution, it would no longer be possible to own one’s house”notes Patricio.

The current constitution imprisons us socially and politically.

This well-orchestrated campaign benefits from enormous financial resources and the support of a certain number of media. The methods are radicalized a few days before the election with personal phone calls to call for a vote against the new Constitution, the mass sending of emails and SMS. A hate speech that has resulted in several attacks against supporters of the Apruebo (yes to the Constitution). So much so that some like Luisa are afraid: “Some of us fear the reaction of Pinochet supporters, but we’re going anyway. It’s a historic day! And we will be attentive to the reactions. »

Faced with these attacks, the yes campaign wanted to be optimistic, joyful and forward-looking. But it started very late in July, convinced of its victory after the social explosion of October 2019, and a first referendum in December 2020 where 80% of Chileans had demanded a new Constitution. Since then, she has been trying to catch up and is working hard. It’s an explosion on social networks with many videos of all kinds, very imaginative. The gamble of carrying out a giant door-to-door campaign aimed at visiting two million homes throughout the country is about to be won. Apruebo meetings throughout the country bring together large crowds in a peaceful atmosphere. We come here as a family. The “caravans”, a Chilean tradition at election time which consists of making lines of vehicles or bicycles crossing a city, mobilize many people. Many gatherings, outside the parties, were organized to carry out the campaign, in a spontaneous way: neighborhood groups, groups of engineers, women’s groups, etc. It is not just militants who are leading the battle of the Apruebo.

Will the undeniable success of this enthusiastic campaign reverse the poor results announced by the polls? Nothing is impossible. In December 2021, Gabriel Boric was elected president of the country at the head of an anti-liberal coalition. This second referendum must validate or not the proposal submitted by the 155 constituents. But this vote will be completely new, since it is now compulsory and all citizens are registered on the lists. No one is able to predict the outcome, so their challenge is already ready if the yes wins. “I asked myself the question: what is better? Whether this debate takes place between a few people, behind a closed door, in the midst of a dictatorship, or whether we can exchange views during a mandate where 80% of Chileans are represented and whether this text finally evokes the inclusion of the original peoples, the women and a fairer society? Well, I choose the second option! » says Maria.

In the event of failure on Sunday, the slap would be terrible for the government, which will not be able to implement its reforms: creation of social security for all, a pay-as-you-go pension system, reconstruction of an education system, fight against poverty, distribution of wealth, respect for environmental standards. September 4 is also the anniversary of the election of Salvador Allende in 1970. Quite a symbol!


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