Chile Constituent Assembly President Gabriel Borek presented a landmark proposal for a new constitution for the South American country on Monday.
Chileans will decide whether to adopt or reject the constitution in a nationwide referendum on September 4.
“I know, and all of Chile understands that this has not been easy. It means, dear citizens, that democracy is not easy,” said Borek, after obtaining a copy of the draft document.
“No matter what legitimate differences there may be regarding the content of the text that will be discussed in the coming months, there is one thing that all Chileans should be proud of – and that at the moment of the most profound political, institutional and social crisis that our country has experienced in decades, Chileans have opted for more democracy, And no less.
The proposed constitution represents a departure from the country’s current constitution, which was written under the influence of University of Chicago Milton Friedman’s neoliberal model. Despite many adjustments, the majority of Chileans blame it for the country’s stark inequality.
The proposed new constitution emphasizes social and environmental factors, enshrines the rights of Chile’s indigenous peoples and envisions a new national health care system.
The potential replacement of the constitution inherited from the late General Augusto Pinochet, the dictator who ruled the country from 1973 to 1990, was triggered by a metro fare increase three years ago.
Mass protests and riots across the country in the fall of 2019 forced then-President Sebastian Pinera to agree to a referendum to rewrite the constitution.
In October 2020, more than 78% of Chilean voters approved the constitutional change, and in June 2021 they voted again to select the members of the Constituent Assembly.
The center-left and right-wing coalitions that have shared power since the return of democracy in 1990 both took a hit, taking only 16% and 24% of seats in parliament, respectively.
By contrast, independents and newcomers from left-wing political parties and social movements enjoyed an hour of glory, garnering 60% of the vote.
The country is now preparing for a vote on the constitution they drafted, which could bring about wide-ranging changes to Chilean society.
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