Chile’s constitutional convention on Monday handed its proposed new constitution to President Gabriel Boric ahead of a planned September referendum on adopting the text.
The convention, made up of 154 members who are mostly political independents, spent a year creating the new document to replace the constitution adopted during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).
“We should feel proud that during the deepest crisis… in decades that our country has lived through, we Chileans have chosen more democracy, not less,” said Boric during a ceremony in Santiago.
Rewriting the dictatorship-era constitution was a major demand of protesters who flooded onto the streets in 2019 and kept up weekly demonstrations for months before the coronavirus pandemic curtailed them.
“It recognizes the dignity, freedom, substantial equality of human beings and their indissoluble relationship with nature as intrinsic and inalienable values.”
“It is a proposal that represents a historic advance in terms of democracy and the guarantee of social rights for our country, and on top of that, it is filled with feminism from beginning to end,” added Alondra Carrillo, from the leftist Broad Front.
For Cristian Monckeberg, this is a “missed” opportunity to “build something that unites rather than divides” the country.
The process “was not as simple and friendly as many of us would have wanted and dreamed of,” writer and journalist Patricio Fernandez, one of the 104 independent members of the convention, told AFP.
If the constitution is adopted, it will make Chile one of the most progressive countries in the region.
“It’s a constitution from another era. I’m totally convinced that if it is approved, when we look back at this process… it will be seen with a lot more tenderness and affection than we see it now,” said Fernandez.
One of those members, Natividad Llanquileo, an activist for Chile’s largest Indigenous group, the Mapuche, said the constitutional process represented “the most democratic space that we have known in the history of this country.”
Several times in recent weeks, millennial leader Boric has reiterated his support for the constitutional project, adding that the current document represents an “obstacle” to profound social reform.
In Monday’s ceremony, Boric warned against “falsehoods, distortions or catastrophic interpretations that are alien to reality” in the lead-up to the referendum.