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Is Chile Bracing for Crisis Amid Potential Socialist Constitution?

Excesivo estatismo y eliminación del Senado genera rechazo a la nueva constitución chilena

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Available: Español

The abolition of the Senate, changes to the judicial system, the greater presence of the government, or the completely unrestricted abortion are some of the aspects of the constitutional proposal that has generated more rejection, according to those who promote the opposition to a text written by 154 democratically elected members of the Constitutional Convention.

One option, that of rejection, is currently in the majority in the polls, but with a downward trend compared to approval, which seems to be gaining ground in the midst of numerous undecided voters.

Although in the referendum there will only be two options on the ballot, the idea has already been installed in society that, whatever the result, the constitutional reform will continue after September 4.

In this context, sixty social organizations inaugurated this week the Casa Ciudadana del Rechazo (Citizen’s House of Rejection), a campaign for the no, which has as one of its motors the slogan “made with rage”.

“Many of these movements and their causes participated in the constituent process through the popular rule initiatives, but unfortunately they were not heard. This text is not a proposal that unites us as Chileans and for that reason, with much hope, we will go out from civil society to say that we want to continue advancing”, said the spokesman Claudio Salinas.

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Increasing the Role of Government

The former governor of the province of Cautín, Mapuche lawyer Richard Caifal, criticizes that the proposal implies a “pendular movement, going from a state that guarantees liberties to an omnipresent one”.

“We fall into excessive statism (…) The current state guarantees individuals to carry out any economic activity, and the proposal eliminates that possibility. For example, for the rights of nature. The state, which used to be subsidiary, is now the protagonist of our reality,” Caifal told EFE.

Stephania Jeldrez, a spokesperson for Con Mi Plata No (Not with my money), an organization that defends individual ownership of pension funds managed by private companies (AFP), also criticized the increased presence of the state.

“I have no hope in state-run things. In the case of pensions, nobody assures us that the state will be able to make the funds profitable as the AFPs do,” he told EFE.

Con Mi Plata No (Not with my money) presented one of the proposals that collected the most signatures, but was rejected by the Constitutional Convention.

Plurinationality and the Judicial System

In the opinion of Caifal, who heads the Rakizuam Foundation, an institution dedicated to “intercultural dialogue among constituents”, the text “shows very complex situations to understand” that “have generated much uncertainty among citizens”.

“For example, plurinationality. It is still not fully understood what its implications would be. We do not observe greater complexity in the concept, but in the contents”, he explained.

The text recognizes 11 indigenous nations in Chile and is open “to others that may be recognized in a manner to be established by law”.

One of these controversial implications is the “coexistence” of indigenous legal systems and the National System, under the umbrella of the supreme court.

“There is criticism that points to the weakening of the judiciary or the creation of two parallel systems, which originates from the misunderstanding or partial reading of the proposed norms,” José Antonio Ramírez, doctor in constitutional law and professor at the University of O’Higgins (UOH), explains to Efe.

“The judicial work takes into consideration the customs and traditions of the native peoples, but it does not mean different criminal or civil legislations”, he specifies.

The same happens with the elimination of the Senate and the transition to an “asymmetric bicameral” system, or the terms for abortion, which also generates opposition from the traditional parties.

Boric proposes a new attempt to change the constitution

In view of the uncertainty about the outcome, the socialist president Gabriel Boric, has warned that the rejection will lead back to the starting point and stressed that the current proposal can be reformed.

A statement that leads many to think that “he is behaving as the head of Apruebo and not of the State”, as criticized by the executive director of the Institute of Society Studies (IES), Claudio Alvarado.

“The uncertainty has to do with which of the two alternatives is a better starting point to continue forward with the constitutional conversation as of September 4”, he concluded.

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