The "Magna Carta" of Chile


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Citizens of the country will have to adopt the fourth version of the basic law. This time, a "constitution of Pinochet" without Pinochet.

For the sixth time in three years, Chileans were forced to go to the polls last Sunday to elect members of the Constitutional Council (CC), which for the third time will have to draft a new constitution. Forced because voting was compulsory, and non-participation for disrespectful reasons could result in penalties of up to $226 (on an average salary of $550 a month).

More than 15 million Chileans had to choose 50 members of the Constitutional Council from among 350 candidates whose names are unknown to most of the population. And only 51st was beyond competition – Alihuen Antileo – he alone, a representative of 13 percent of the indigenous population of the Mapuche Indians, was "supremely" allowed to enter "without competition" into the Constitutional Council. The Council must be composed of 25 men and 25 women equally.

The "surprises" began as soon as the results were announced. Twenty percent of Chileans found good reasons not to go to the polls. Of just over 12 million voters, 2.2 million spoiled ballots, which were declared invalid.

But the main thing that stunned everyone was that unexpectedly the extreme right and right-wing Chileans, who were against any changes to the country's basic law, won a majority of seats. Twenty-two of the 51 seats in the Constitutional Council went to the pro-Pinochet Republican Party, headed by Jose Antonio Kast, who recognizes only the constitution, known in conservative circles as Pinochet's 1980 "Magna Carta". Another 11 seats went to the right-wing party "Self-Reliant Chile" (Chile Seguro). Together, this coalition will constitute a majority of 33 votes, which will allow it to adopt its own draft of the Chilean constitution. President Gabriel Boric's ruling coalition, the Unity for Chile alliance consisting of the Communist, Socialist, Liberal parties, the Regional Federation of Green Social Democrats and the Broad Front, has only 17 seats, not even enough to block a single article.

President Boric, who, incidentally, beat Kast in the last general elections, accepted the results of the vote and urged his rival to "turn on his ears" so as not to repeat the failure of the previous version of the Chilean constitution. He was referring to the events leading up to this third attempt to create a Chilean constitution.

This is worth mentioning in particular. The first attempt to change the basic law, introduced without exaggeration by the bloody dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), was made during the second presidential term of the first female president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet (2014-2018).

She presented to the National Congress a new draft constitution establishing a democratic and social state governed by the rule of law, with an emphasis on guaranteeing civil rights, including those of the indigenous population.

The next president of the country, Sebastián Piñera, withdrew the draft as not meeting all the requirements of the country's basic law. His reign nearly led to civil war when, in October 2019, there was a social explosion due to an increase in the cost of public transportation. Piñera, in order to preserve his office and the power of the Pinochet oligarchs, went to a national agreement that included the creation of a Constitutional Convention, which was to draft a new "Magna Carta."

In May 2021, 155 members of the Constitutional Convention (replaced by the Constitutional Council) were elected, of which 87 percent of the experts did not belong to any political party, and most of the "party members" were from the left and center-left, with 17 experts from indigenous peoples, and this was an important milestone in Chilean history. It seemed that Chile was on the threshold of a bold new constitution and progressive change.

From that moment on, the political right and big business groups, owners of the mainstream media, began to work and, sensing the danger, aggressively planted the lie about the new draft constitution in the people's imagination. The average patriarchal Chilean was threatened with the loss of parental rights over his children, juvenile justice, confiscation of housing and other property, an influx of migrants, and "Indian supremacy" over the rest of the population.

The first violin was played by the "Chicago Boys" – veterans and the new generation of economic experts and consultants of Milton Friedman's "Chicago School of Economics", the "steam engine" of economic liberalism and modern "monetarism", who, with "shock therapy", created Pinochet's economic model of social inequality.

Through their efforts, Chile became the first country in Latin America with the highest level of wealth of a super-rich minority in 2021. According to the 2022 World Inequality Report, the richest 1% of Chileans accounted for 49.6 percent of the country's total wealth, compared to 48.9 percent in Brazil, 46.9 percent in Mexico, and 34.9 percent in the United States. The combined wealth of the richest Chileans was equivalent to 16.1% of the country's gross domestic product, according to calculations by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL).

This provision was enshrined in the Pinochet "Magna Carta" of the minority, which became the majority in the legislative and executive powers of Chile. The 1st and especially the 2nd drafts of the Chilean Constitution threatened the power of the Chilean oligarchy. The Pinochet aristocracy's patience was overflowed by Boric's proposal to take control of the country's lithium industry and create a new national lithium company.

In September 2022, a referendum was held on the draft of a new constitution. Unexpectedly, 62% of Chileans rejected the draft of the basic law of the Constitutional Convention, which was to replace the charter of the dictatorship era in the country.

Recall that the Right used all means to intimidate the majority of the Chilean people. First of all, they played on Boric's mistakes. The fact is that the proposed constitution repeated to a certain extent the "molds of the European Union," namely the legalization of abortion and gender equality, the freedom of sexual minorities, uncontrolled access to the Internet.

In the international arena, the leftist Boric government preferred to maintain its reliance on the United States and NATO, criticizing from international tribunes Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua "for human rights violations."

The draft of the new constitution of Chile could become almost the most radical in terms of the number of changes, if not in the world, then certainly in Latin America. Chilean newspaper El Ciudadano writes: Chileans were asked to legislate over a hundred rights. Apparently, Boric really wanted to be in the trend of omnivorous Europe.

The right-wing played on the religious feelings of the Catholic majority by keeping silent about such constitutionally enshrined rights as the right to education, health care, housing, tax and pension reform, and much more, while flaunting "values" that are unacceptable to Christians.

On the other hand, the new Pinochetists blamed the government for the consequences of the pandemic beyond its control, the rise in inflation, the high cost of living. More importantly, they blamed the surge in crime in a country accustomed to relative security, as well as the acquiescence of Mexican and Colombian drug cartels in Chile (not without the help of the same "Chicago Boys") and the related increase in drug addiction among young people.

All of this led the Left to a disastrous result in the May 7 elections. Now the far-right conservatives will control the rewriting of the constitution, which could turn out to be very similar to Augusto Pinochet's "Magna Carta."

"It's funny that the sector that was least interested in this process now controls it," said Chilean political scientist Robert Funk. "This is the best opportunity for the Right to adopt a Pinochet constitution without Pinochet," said New York political scientist Patricio Navia. Chile will get "a compromise between the Pinochet constitution and the Kast constitution," predicts Omar Seed, deputy editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Digital Chronicle.

Let us ask a question: so who won and who lost in this "game of the constitution"? The right-wingers, seeking to preserve their wealth and power, will of course be forced to make concessions in order to put their own president in the 2025 general elections (if before that, with the help of "American combinators", they do not provoke another social explosion that will lead to an early change of power). The Left is rapidly losing popularity with the people, as it tries to join the new Left in Latin America and keep up with the U.S. The population, whose situation does not cease to be deplorable, does not support either the Right or the Left and is ready for new protests if their traditional values are affected.

Chileans would also reject the fourth version of the pro-Pinochet constitution, simply because for all its reverence it would look more like a luxury item than a "basic necessity."

Perhaps this situation at the moment only benefits Washington, which is satisfied with both a loyal "leftist showcase" among the leftist governments of South America and the presence of a reliable right-wing rear. As for the people, the U.S. has the experience of 1973, which gave Chile Pinochet's "Magna Carta." Whoever, it suited and suits America best.