A new constitution will now be made in Chile. The demand for a new constitution received an overwhelming majority in the referendum held on Sunday. The demand for a new constitution arose from the mass movement that started in October last year. The movement started in protest against the increase in transport fares, but later the demand for major changes joined it. This movement joined the link of two major movements in the last nine years. These movements took place in support of demand for free education and payment of pension from government funds. That is, these three mass movements challenged the neo-liberal policies adopted during the last four decades in the country. Since the provision of these policies was in the Constitution which came into force forty years ago, the demand to change the Constitution became the central issue of the movement.
Earlier this year, the country’s right-wing government accepted the demand for a referendum on the new constitution. But it was delayed due to the corona virus epidemic. The referendum took place on two issues. The first question was whether the country needs a new constitution. The second question was whether to form a whole or mixed Constituent Assembly to form a new constitution. Left organizations wanted to constitute the entire Constituent Assembly. Under this scheme, all 155 members of the new Constituent Assembly will be elected from civil society during the forthcoming local elections. The wealthy and neo-liberal sections wanted a mixed Constituent Assembly of 172 members, with half the members being the sitting MPs. This would have given a decisive place to the present ruling classes.
But the result of the referendum came in accordance with the demand of leftist forces. The whole country was disturbed by the vigorous mass movement that started last year till March this year. During the violence, 34 people were killed and more than four hundred people were permanently disabled. After that, the government of President Sibestian Pinera agreed to hold a referendum for the new constitution. In the referendum, more than seventy percent of the people voted in favor of the new constitution and the new Constituent Assembly as a whole.
The history of Chile is such that there is an international interest in the events there. In 1970, Socialist leader Salvadore Allende was elected Prime Minister. He rapidly pursued socialist policies in the country. With the support of the rich and angry sections, the army overthrew him. It is alleged that the US intelligence agency CIA played a big role in this. The military dictatorship of the coup d’état Augusto Pinochet lasted for seventeen years. This period is remembered for the gross violation of human rights as well as for the rapid implementation of neo-liberal policies. At the same time the current constitution was implemented, which had been the target of public outrage for the last decade. Now finally the way to change it has been cleared.
The Socialist Party had a major victory in the South American country of Bolivia last week. Former President Ivo Morales’s Movement Towards Socialism Party, which was ousted from power last year, has returned to power there. The result of the referendum that followed in Chile is considered as another major victory of the Left in Latin America.