Global community holds breath as Chileans cast truly world-leading vote

Rally for Chile constitution

Citizens in Chile are voting on whether to approve a truly world-leading constitution on 4 September. Ahead of the big day, people and communities around the world expressed their support for the principles it would enshrine.

Widespread support for Chile constitution

In October 2020, Chileans overwhelmingly voted to replace their existing constitution. It’s a relic of the dictatorial Pinochet era and essentially prioritises neoliberalism above all else. Citizens elected a 154-member group to draft a new constitution, equally made up of women and men.

As the New York Times highlighted, the result is a sweeping constitution that promises changes in multiple areas, such as universal health care, and rights to clean air, water, and much more. Its approval would mean Chile has “more rights enshrined in its constitution than any other nation” on Earth.

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Progressive International pointed out in mid-August that the Chile constitution has attracted the support of over 200 political and trade union leaders from around the world:

More recently, western media outlets have highlighted that polls suggest voters may reject the constitution amid widespread misinformation. The Guardian has reported on numerous bogus claims that have circulated about what the constitution will bring, such as the confiscation of private property. Outlets have also pointed to disquiet among industries like mining that benefit from the neoliberal status quo.

Nonetheless, significant support has been evident in Chile at rallies ahead of the vote:

Groundbreaking protections

The draft Chile constitution significantly empowers indigenous communities, including in relation to sovereignty over their lands.

On 3 September, 17 indigenous groups from Turtle Island – otherwise known as North America – backed the constitution. Jade Begay, climate justice director at the indigenous-led organisation NDN Collective, said:

Chile’s newly proposed constitution sets a precedent for the U.S. and other governments to not only recognize it is beyond time to update our draconian constitutions, but also that integrating Indigenous rights into our core laws will move us towards truly achieving equity and justice.

As an article in the Conversation also noted, the constitution offers “astoundingly progressive” reforms in relation to protections for the natural world. It contains no less than 50 provisions related to the environment, including granting nature constitutional rights. Ecuador granted such constitutional rights to nature in 2008. Its experience shows that they can safeguard precious ecosystems against extractive practices like mining. The University of Melbourne academics who wrote the Conversation article asserted that:

Chile has crafted one of the most progressive and environmentally conscious legal texts on the planet.

Unsurprisingly then, the new Chilean constitution has attracted attention and support among environment-focused groups:

In short, a lot is at stake for Chileans in the referendum vote, not least for the country’s president Gabriel BoricMoreover, the groundbreaking protections the constitution lays out for people, other animals, and the planet overall provides a stunning example to citizens around the world of what a just future for all could look like.

Featured image via Democracy Now! / YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. I hope they won’t become just another Canada or U.S.A., where the leaders are mostly symbolically ‘in charge’, beneath the most power-entrenched and saturated national/corporate interests and institutions — indeed a virtual corpocracy, i.e. “a society dominated by politically and economically large corporations”.

      Powerful business interests can debilitate high-level elected officials through implicit or explicit threats to transfer or eliminate jobs and capital investment, thus economic stability, if corporate ‘requests’ aren’t accommodated. It’s a political crippling that’s worsened by a blaring mainstream news-media that are permitted to be naturally critical of incumbent governments, especially in regards to job and capital transfers and economic weakening. …

      A few successful social/labor uprisings notwithstanding, notably the Bolshevik and French revolutions, it seems to me that the superfluously rich essentially have always had the police and military ready to foremost protect their power/money interests, even over the basic needs of the masses.

      Even today, the police and military can, and probably would, claim they must bust heads to maintain law and order as a priority; therefore, the absurdly unjust inequities and inequalities can persist. Thus I can imagine there were/are lessons learned by Big Power/Money from those successful social/labor uprisings, a figurative How to Hinder Progressive Revolutions 101, perhaps.

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