The eyes that saw the death of the most modern constitution in the world

Chile once again became the laboratory that created the world’s first constitution for parity and the environment; even the most developed countries followed in our footsteps, hoping to emulate them.

“The eyes of the world are on Chile” must be one of the most heard phrases in the international media in recent weeks.

As a Chilean living abroad, specifically in Berlin, Germany, I have closely followed the press interest in our country and the large number of columns written for the German and European public about the plebiscite and its implications for the region and the world at large. . Television and news programs repeated how the last vestige of the dictatorship was being destroyed, preparing programs with special envoys and interviewing experts. And it was not for less: Chile once again became a laboratory that created the first parity and ecological constitution in the world; even the most developed countries followed in our footsteps, hoping to emulate them.

But we were also, in the eyes of the world, the country that, after a major political and social crisis, was resolved through an institutional and electoral route, without a messiah or breaking the rules of the democratic game, to take control of the most painful problems of our society : poverty, misery, abuse, fear of old age without food, illness with priceless treatment, life paid in monthly installments to the bank.

In this way, 2019 began the shortest and most intense political cycle in our history, which exposed the great wound of Chile: its deep inequality, which extended its hands of exclusion to every corner of our geography, even reaching our family and personal life and whose origins were closely rooted in the last legacy of the dictatorship: the 1980 constitution.

The main characters in the story of the 2019 rebellion for the first time have the invisible on the front line, followed by young students, women, boys and girls, housewives and workers, middle-class professionals, intellectuals, merchants, ordinary and current people. The power of this great movement was shown in each of the battles waged against the police forces, which ended with many of the protesters being blinded, beaten, tortured and even killed.

Repressive history repeated itself, only this time blindness was used as a warning weapon applied to those who dared to lose control of our “Oasis of Peace”, a clearly irrational and inhumane punishment. Then came the Peace Agreement and the institutional solution to the conflict, which by the way was not signed thanks to the good will of the political class, but rather pushed through by the power of the social movement.

After the agreement, an intense election cycle began. The story from then on is known to all until the (for now momentary) closure of that cycle: the exit plebiscite, which ended in a landslide victory for Rejection on September 4 last year.

On September 5 in Frankfurter Rundschau (in Germany) published an article with the following title: Nach gescheitertem Referendum: Chiles Angst vor der Freiheit (After the failure of the referendum: Chile fears freedom). The column was accompanied by a photograph of several women celebrating the triumph of the Rejection with Chilean flags in their hands. The image had a caption that read: “Chilean women seem to celebrate escaping equal constitutional rights.”

This image moved me deeply, and it was quite complicated to answer the questions of a foreign audience that does not know all the pieces of this puzzle and does not understand why the vast majority of Chileans have given up having the minimum rights that make reproduction possible, of life. This result was also incomprehensible to the European feminists who enthusiastically followed productivity of Las Tesis, for example, but also for all those who watched with curious eyes the discussions of the Constitutional Convention and the large number of innovations and proposals which, even here in the northern part of the world, were new debates.

The question that arises when observing this process from a distance is why was a text that clearly represented democratic and somewhat civilizational progress rejected? And here I will try to do some reading. However, I will not focus on explaining the explosive cocktail that resulted from a poorly judged citizenry and excessively squeamishly drafted process. Neither in the shortcomings and inaccuracies of the new Constitutional Charter, nor in the great power of the media to install half-truths or outright false debates about the constitutional process and conventional ones. Neither in the responsibility that falls on President Borich or the political class, nor in the uneven distribution of campaign resources between the two options, given that all these factors have been discussed at length.

Rather, I will focus on what this defeat means for the most progressive sectors, and above all for the Chilean left, which suffers from the same shortcomings in much of the Western world.

Primarily, the rejection of the text comes from its inability to address people’s pain and everyday problems, insecurities and helplessness. There was, in a concrete way, no alternative to get out of the precarious material condition in which the majority of Chileans live, who have also lost all contact with the state and its policies, and also with politicians.

Given that identity prevails in the constitutional debate, the text dialogues only with a part of Chile and in particular with an elite, the most intellectualized, which has many of its basic needs despite being in debt. However, the rights of sexual minorities, the equality of the sexes or the rights of nature were a dead letter for the average Chilean family, which much more often than we think, has to go into debt to feed itself so crudely.

It is inexplicable that the constitutional debate has not begun to include the social rights (health, education, pensions, etc.) that have been most demanded by the people for years and that are at the root of the daily inequalities that afflict the population. And by this I am not saying that identity claims are not important, but rather that a country like Chile, where the minimum human life is not guaranteed for some sectors of the population, we cannot afford not to start with the most important, for the essentials.

With the devastating result on our hands, we must be brave not to blame the poor education of the people or the ferocious campaign of disinformation and spreading lies, whose repertoire and strategy we already knew well from the second presidential run between Borich and Kast. . For me, there is no one more to blame than the heralds and architects of this unique opportunity that we squandered, and this should lead us to a deep reflection that allows us to arm ourselves not only in the face of the upcoming elections, but also in the face of the real threat that lurks: the arrival of the extreme right in power.

The crushing defeat in the plebiscite for a wide sector of the left, suffered above all by the poorest sections of the population, is partly due to the lack of connection between left parties, but also between protest and identity movements, with ordinary people, not to mention the marginalized and the voiceless.

Despite the fact that the 2019 rebellion had strong roots in the popular sectors, this niche still seems outside the orbit of those who led the constitutional change from the progressive world. Is it possible that the Chilean left has lost its “class consciousness”, and with it the ability to fight accordingly for the interests of the most disadvantaged? Judging by the results, it seems so, and the onus is on us to acknowledge receiving this blow.

The left does not yet speak the language of the invisible, does not understand its dynamics, nor does it understand its pains; for now, she is not qualified to speak for the outsider. This despite the fact that they made a visible variety of demands in the public space. So far, we have lost the only opportunity to end Pinochet’s constitution, and in the meantime we have given vent to the right, who did not hesitate to take advantage of the victory as if it really belonged to them.

For now, the situation is uncertain. Borich’s government is forced to turn to the center and give voice to the more moderate left, looking for valid interlocutors that will allow him to negotiate the terms of a new constitutional process with the right, given that they now have “the pot to handle .” “We dance to your beat,” or so it seems, so much so that they are even threatening to set the tone for the tax and social security reforms currently under discussion. We are once again in the hands of those who condemned us to live in the constitution of abuse, and the worst may come if the left and the progressive world fail to understand the needs of the broad groups of disadvantaged people who voted to reject her.If there is no exercise in listening, understanding and real rapprochement, it will be impossible to consider winning of a political campaign from now on and we risk going backwards by leaps and bounds.

The dilemma we face is how do we end this political cycle without empty hands? How to make all this pain and mobilization worth it? It’s a question that makes sense now that after three years, nothing has improved, on the contrary. Today we have worse inequality indicators and misery has spread to every corner of the country, not to mention the hundreds of lost and mutilated eyes we carry on our backs as a reminder of the most terrible years in our recent history.

Claudia Maldonado Grouse

PhD in Sociology from Freie Universität, Berlin.

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