Chile’s Constituent Assembly presented President Gabriel Boric with a historic proposal for a new constitution for the South American country on Monday.
The Chileans will decide whether to accept or reject the constitution in a nationwide referendum on September 4th.
“I know, and all of Chile is aware, that this has not been easy. And that’s exactly what, dear compatriots, democracy is not easy,” Boric said after receiving a copy of the draft document.
“Regardless of the legitimate disagreements over the content of the text that will be debated over the next few months, there is something for all Chileans to be proud of – at the moment of the deepest political, institutional and social crisis that our homeland has endured for decades, the Chileans opted for more democracy, not less,” he said.
The proposed constitution represents a departure from the country’s existing constitution, which was written under the influence of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman’s neoliberal model. Despite many amendments, a majority of Chileans blame it for the country’s stark inequalities.
The proposed new constitution emphasizes social and environmental factors, enshrines the rights of Chile’s indigenous peoples and provides for a new national healthcare system.
The process of potentially replacing the constitution inherited from the late General Augusto Pinochet, the dictator who ruled the country from 1973 to 1990, was sparked by an increase in subway fares three years ago.
Massive protests and riots across the country in autumn 2019 forced then-President Sebastián Piñera to agree to a referendum on the revision of the constitution.
In October 2020, more than 78% of Chilean voters approved the constitutional amendment and in June 2021 they voted again to select members for a Constituent Assembly.
The center-left and right-wing coalitions, which have shared power since the return to democracy in 1990, both suffered a severe blow, receiving only 16% and 24% of the seats in the assembly, respectively.
Independents and newcomers from left-wing political parties and social movements, on the other hand, had their moment of glory, garnering 60% of the vote.
Now the country is preparing to vote on the constitution they are drafting, which could bring about far-reaching changes in Chilean society.