Chileans vote for new constitution, leaving behind relic of Pinochet’s brutal legacy

SANTIAGO, Chile —– On the wood benches of Santiago’& rsquo; s Estadio Nacional, university professor Luís Cifuentes invested long, empty days in the spring of 1973 attempting to overlook the painful screams originating from the bowels of the arena.

Around 40,000 left- wing political detainees gone through the arena throughout Gen. Augusto Pinochet’& rsquo; s brutal dictatorship (from 1973 to 1990 ),with an approximated 3,200 killed or vanished and 27,000 tortured.

Now aged 73, Cifuentes survived, however he did not escape the abuses. He was electrocuted and questioned by soldiers in the biggest of some 1,168 detention focuses throughout Chile.

“& ldquo; Onone event I was blindfolded and required to march around the arena in the dark,” & rdquo; he stated. & ldquo; I trippedover something unusual, and reached down to recognize that they were the cold bodies of killed detainees.”& rdquo;

On Sunday the arena ended up being one of the capital’& rsquo; s most symbolic ballot centers, and Cifuentes returned almost half a century later on to accompany his other half, Gricelda Figueroa, 56, as she cast her vote in an across the country referendum.

Luis Cifuentes at his home in Santiago, Chile. Liam Miller/ Pudu Media

Late Sunday, Chile’& rsquo; s electoral commission was reporting that almost 15 million people—– consisting of Cifuentes and Figueroa—– had actually turned out, 78 percent of whom had actually voted to begin the procedure of changing the dictatorship-era 1980 constitution, a sign of the brutal Pinochet years.

A new constitution would look for to redress imbalances in Chile that have actually seen it end up being one of the world’& rsquo; s most unequal countries, with power focused deeply with the judgment elite primarily based in Santiago. Health, ethnic background, education and gender are all key concerns at the center of the argument.

As Chile prepares for a new chapter that breaks with its bloody past, a vociferous young generation has added their voices to the shout for modification.

“& ldquo; My generation are the children and children of the people who endured the dictatorship,” & rdquo; stated Alondra Arellano, who at 22 is Chile’& rsquo; s youngest party leader. She was elected as the president of the center-left Convergencia Social party in August.

“& ldquo; Our parents bring the scars of those years and live in worry of raising their voices,” she said. ” I have family who were tortured or banished, and my generation recognized that, if anything was going to alter, we would need to act ourselves.”& rdquo;

Arellano originates from the low-income Santiago residential area of La Cisterna and cut her teeth in university politics, leading Chile’& rsquo; s vociferous feminist motion in 2018. She chose to take the step into conventional politics in an effort to alter the system from within. When the dictatorship came to an end,more Her generation is eager to avenge what they see as the absence in allocated. Pinochet was prosecuted on in than 300 charges consisting of human rights abuses and jailed “life senator,” 1998. He passed away

2006 having actually worked as an unelected us immune from prosecution.forward President Sebastián Pi & ntilde; period stated on Sunday night,“& ldquo; previously, the constitution has actually dividedshould From today in, we new all work together of making the “

A relic of Pinochet’s brutal past

Protests over inequality exploded up and down the country in October last year, and Chile has since been gripped by a socio-political crisis. Owing to its ties to Pinochet, the constitution had become a focal point of the anger.

With Piñera’s approval rating tumbling towards a nadir—it would reach a historic low of 6 percent in January, the lowest for any president since Chile’s return to democracy—he brokered a deal with party leaders last November to hold a plebiscite on writing the country’s first democratically drafted constitution.

The current document was ratified by a fraudulent referendum in 1980, enshrining an extreme interpretation of free-market principles and privatization that its critics say prioritized profit over life.

For the proponents of the model, the constitution was the cornerstone of Chile’s growth and stability since the return to democracy in 1990. World Bank data shows that Chile’s GDP grew by about 800% between 1990 and 2018; yet a third of total wealth is owned by the richest 1%.

For many, the constitutional process is an opportunity to heal the deep wounds within Chilean society, covered over by the country’s outward economic success and a tradition of apathetic silence among the country’s ruling elite.

Fundamental social rights to housing are not enshrined, while mentions of health care and education refer more to a choice of provider than the guarantee that the state will provide them. The country’s Indigenous population — which is 13 percent — are not currently recognized and treated simply as ” constitution a sign “

However, Chile will now draft the first constitution of any country with equal participation of women, after a bill was approved in March guaranteeing gender parity.

“Chilean society is incredibly segregated, and our elite have very few communication channels that reach beyond their circles,” said Daniel Brieba, a political scientist at Santiago’s Adolfo Ibáñez University. “The social movement wasn’t necessarily asking for a new constitution — that demand coalesced later — but even though it might be a necessary symbolic step to replace the Pinochet constitution, it’s also a long way from being sufficient to address all of the problems we have in this country.”

While the vote gave a significant mandate to the rewriting of the constitution, the process is also likely to be fraught, given the divisions within Chile’s political class and society at large.

” unity and stability.of Chilean.of Some kind start for agreement will come with this, and it’& rsquo; ll be a freshin Chile, a minimum of symbolically, although lead such polarization added Chile there are genuine worries that this might

to an incoherent file,” Brieba step.

For Cifuentes though, the back Chile has actually taken suffices.building“& ldquo; We will never ever get chance the nation we were

prior to the dictatorship, however we have a new to make something much better than this,” & rdquo; he stated. of & ldquo; When there is a vote constitution, an entire chapter(* )my life will have been finished, however that hasn’& rsquo; t occurred yet, & rdquo; he stated. & ldquo; This(* )has actually been emblematic and symbolic of what I want: to escape Pinochet’& rsquo; s constitution. & rdquo;

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