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Chile decides in a referendum whether to overturn the Pinochet Constitution –

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São Paulo – This Sunday (23) Chile will hold a national referendum that could pave the way for the construction of a new Constitution, ending another stage in the country’s history towards consolidating democracy.

Elaborated in 1980, it can be said that the current Magna Carta is the main representative of the so-called “authoritarian rubble” resulting from the period in which the country lived under the dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet. When protests against subway fares became a national uprising in 2019, the constitutional text became one of the main targets of the demonstrations.

One of the main authors of the Magna Carta was the Pinochet councilor, Jaime Guzmán, who enshrined the neoliberal philosophy of the so-called Chicago Boys, a group of conservative Chilean economists guided by the American Milton Friedman. Historian Renato Cristi, author of the book The political thought of Jaime Guzmán, points out that Guzmán managed to forge a constitutional regime with a strong authoritarian state and a free market economy.

Thus, the path was opened for the privatization of public services such as education, health and social security, changes that, over the years, have been responsible for the deepening of social inequality in the country.

What the plebiscite will decide

Today, Chileans decide whether or not to approve constitutional change. And, regardless of this option, the voter has to decide how he wants a possible new Constitution to be written by answering the question “What kind of body should write the New Constitution?”.

The alternatives proposed are “mixed constitutional convention”, composed in equal parts by representatives elected by direct vote and parliamentarians who are already in office, and “constitutional convention”, an assembly composed entirely of citizens elected for this purpose.

If the Constitution change is approved and the “mixed convention” wins, Parliament will have to choose 86 deputies internally to draft the Constitution and another 86 will be nominated in direct election. If the “constitutional convention” triumphs, the members, men and women divided equally, will be directly elected, without representatives of the National Congress being able to participate in the election to be part of this convention.

Authoritarian rubble

The referendum was called only after President Sebastián Piñera faced one of the most violent periods of Chilean democracy in 2019. Since the protests began, more than 30 people have been killed by security forces in the country.

At the time, the government’s own response highlighted the legacy of the Chilean dictatorship and the persistence of methods of torture and execution. It is estimated that at least 445 people suffered eye injuries in the period of almost five months that the country lived with street protests, and more than 34 lost an eye due to the impacts of rubber bullets. Several people were totally blind.

Due to the need for change, the expectations for a new Constitution are high. The political scientist at the Universidad Mayor de Santiago José Cabezas points to The Guardian that there is a gap between what people believe a new Charter can change and what can actually happen. Even so, he considers this a significant turning point for Chile to finally consolidate its transition to democracy.

“We are building a new base. We don’t know what kind of house we will have, but it will be better ”, he believes. “The public’s perception of the Constitution is going to change because we are going to be part of it. It was not written by people with blood on their hands. ”

Participation in the plebiscite of Chile

One concern regarding this Sunday’s referendum concerns popular participation. Chile is one of the countries whose abstaining from elections is among the highest in the region. In the 2017 presidential elections, for example, the turnout did not exceed 50%.

On the one hand, polls indicate that there is a greater predisposition to vote compared to other elections, but in general polls with voluntary votes are not good predictors of behavior, ”explains the deputy deputy in Chile of the United Nations Development Program ( UNDP), Marcela Ríos, to the Spanish website El Pais. “You vote in the context of a pandemic and, on the other hand, participation in general tends to be a little lower in plebiscites than in regular elections. On this occasion, Chile will not vote for people, but for preferences. ”

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Economy

Argentine President contaminated by covid-19 and fulfills isolation

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São Paulo – The president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, informed on social media that he tested positive for covid-19, after showing symptoms of the disease. He said he is in isolation and has warned people with whom he has had contact in the past 48 hours. And he also reported that he had 37.3ºC of fever, in addition to feeling a slight headache.

The announcement was made this Saturday (3), the day after Fernández turned 62. “For everyone’s information, I am physically well and, although I wanted to end my birthday without this news, I am also in a good mood,” said the president.

He received the first dose of the vaccine (Sputnik) in January. The second, the following month. “I’m fine, I don’t have any symptoms. Only this fever from yesterday that I reported ”, he declared to the newspaper Clarín. “It is a very complicated virus, and the demonstration is that I got infected, even though I was vaccinated with both doses and with extreme care,” he added.

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who received the second dose of the vaccine today, sent a message of support to “Daqui do Brasil I send good energy, hoping for its prompt recovery. May soon overcome this disease to continue caring for the Argentine people. Hugs, mate! ”He wrote.

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