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Chile begins drafting of Magna Carta on agitated anniversary of social crisis

Chile begins drafting of Magna Carta on agitated anniversary of social crisis

Chile begins drafting of Magna Carta on agitated anniversary of social crisis

With a massive demonstration in Santiago that brought together thousands of people, Chile celebrated this Monday the second anniversary of the historic social crisis of 2019, a commemoration that, symbolically, coincided with the beginning of the drafting of the new Constitution.

To the sound of “Chile woke up”, a clamor that became popular two years ago, and in the central Plaza Italia of the capital, it was celebrated in a festive atmosphere on October 18, the date that marks the beginning of the wave of protests that triggered the current constitutional process and opened a new chapter in the history of the country.

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Without much police presence or the usual water and gas launchers, the mobs protested against the Government and called for a fairer socioeconomic model and for the release of the protesters who have been detained for months.

There were some barricades and clashes with the Police, and the authorities denounced some looting attempts, but in general, in the early hours of the afternoon, the demonstration was peaceful and passed without major incidents.

In parallel, a small group tried unsuccessfully to enter the vicinity of the central former national congress, where the Constituent Convention works, which, after three months discussing its regulations and other technical issues, started the drafting of the new constitution.

“For the first time, the peoples of Chile have sat at a plural table to discuss and think about a country where dignity will become customary,” said Mapuche academic Elisa Loncón, president of the body.

“This convention will propose a new Constitution, but also a new political practice that is built with a collaborative spirit,” added left-wing constituent Jaime Bassa, the second in command.

During the day, smaller marches were held in other parts of the capital, where more than 5,000 troops were deployed in total, and riots were recorded in other parts of the country.

BURY THE CONSTITUTION OF PINOCHET

The body, made up of 155 members, is the first parity in the world and has a large presence of independent and non-political citizens, the majority of whom are progressive.

The new Constitution, which must be ready in a maximum of one year and must be ratified in an exit plebiscite (predictably in 2022), could serve to leave behind the current one, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and of marked neoliberal cut.

A sector of Chilean society attributes to this text, which has been reformed countless times, the great inequalities in the country and the privatization of basic services such as pensions, water or health, some of the key demands of the demonstrations.

For more than a year there were thirty deaths, thousands of injuries and countless episodes of violence with looting, fires, barricades, and accusations towards the security forces for excessive repression and human rights violations.

“We don’t want more deaths, no injuries, no blinded or damaged eyes, no repression, no vandalism. Demonstrating cannot be synonymous with danger, ”tweeted attorney and constituent Patricia Politzer.

Marcela Cubillos, one of the best-known faces of the ruling party at the convention, pointed out that on this date “there is nothing to celebrate.”

“Those who endorse, promote or use violence to advance their political agenda must be held accountable,” he added.

“TWO YEARS WITHOUT CHANGES”

Chile has been one of the most stable countries in the region in political and economic terms, but in the last two years it has experienced a strong political and institutional crisis under the halo of a president, the conservative Sebastián Piñera, who enjoys a very low approval, less than 20% according to recent polls.

Gysel Leiva, a young protester, lamented from Plaza Italia that Chile has been “two years without changes” in terms of social rights.

“We don’t have better pensions or free education. This Constitution has to serve to build a fairer country, not only for the rich, “he said.

“Justice has not been served here. We have our colleagues in jail for too long and we will not stop until they are released, ”said Diego Salazar, a student leader who came to demonstrate at Plaza Italia.

The issue of the imprisoned protesters, which the Public Ministry estimated at 25, generates much controversy, and while Parliament is discussing a bill to pardon them, the Government indicates that there are no “political prisoners.”

In parallel, the independent National Institute of Human Rights denounced the slowness of the investigations for alleged human rights violations and indicated last week that there are only 4 convictions of State agents of the more than 3,000 complaints filed.

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