Chile proves that the social and climate struggle pays off!

As Chile changes president, a look back at the upheavals the country has experienced since 2019. Between popular uprising, drafting a new constitution and presidential elections, things are moving across the Atlantic! In this country, where even water is traded as a deed, the hope of change is growing to put an end to the country’s ultra-liberal and unequal policies. We make status.

Turns magazine on neoliberalism

In 2019, the rise in the price of the metro ticket in Santiago is the straw that broke the camel’s back. The residents of the city decide to take to the streets to show and condemn their dissatisfaction social inequalities affecting the country. The movement leads a national uprising that pushes the political parties to organize a referendum that will determine the fate of the Chilean constitution.

Chilean protests 2019 in Puerto Montt (Northern Patagonia) @Natalia Reyes Escobar (Wikicommons)

Take effect, the current constitutional law is still the one passed under General Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1980. In addition to being instituted under an autocracy, the Chilean constitution is deep neoliberal. The protesters in 2019 therefore believe that it hinders any attempt at social reform in the country.

And with good reason:the 1980 ultra-liberal constitution exempts the state from the administration of most public services, leaves the private sector responsible for areas such as education, health or pension systems. The country’s natural resources have also been privatized, water is established in the Constitution as Private property.

Result ? A real “water market” mainly for the benefit of large operators in the mining and agricultural industry to the detriment of small farmers and sometimes even the local population.

This almost total privatization explains the very high cost of certain services and therefore the unequal access to them among the population, at the heart of the dissatisfaction with the social uprising in 2019 …

The referendum will finally be held in October 2020. With almost 79% of the vote in favor, the answer is yes: the Constitution needs to be changed.

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Historical democratic process in Chile

Chile (Northern Patagonia) credits: Natalia Reyes Escobar (wikicommons)

In May 2021, the process of drafting the new Basic Law of the Country will begin; process, including the Constituent Assembly, called Constitutional Convention (Constitutional Convention), has the responsibility. This was democratically elected and consists of 155 members, gender equality, historical event in Chile and pioneer in the world.

Among the elected representatives, no less than 40% of the voters turned out regardless of any political party and comes from civil society. This clearly reflects the Chilean crisis of confidence in the traditional political parties, which for years have replaced each other at the head of the country by maintaining the unequal model in which the country is rooted.

17 seats was also reserved for representatives of indigenous peoples from the country. It’s straight a Mapuche, Chilean majority of indigenous peoples, Elisa Loncón, who was first elected to the rotating presidency of the Assembly.

The Constituent Assembly therefore already reflects the diversity of the Chilean people, to ensure the representativeness of the entire population in the drafting of its new constitution.

Social and ecological priorities for the new constitution

In the speech of her choice, Elisa Loncon expressed its desire to fight for “the rights of our native nation, mother earth, water, women, children”.

These words illustrate the progressive ambitions of the Constituent Assembly. Last December, the time for the vote to define the general provisions of the Convention, not less than 137 voters who voted for the drafting of a “social and ecological constitution”to pick up priorities such as human rights, and in particular the rights of indigenous peoples, popular participation or even the inclusion of the rights of nature in the Constitution.

All these themes are divided into committees within the Assembly, among which we find Committee on the Environment, natural rights and natural resources. Its members have already expressed their ambitions to protect nature and stop treating natural assets as raw materials. Among the work of the Environment Commission is the annoying issue of water that environmentalists will make inappropriate. A real challenge to the extractivist and ultra-liberal economic model in the country.

These priorities and ambitions defined by the Constitutional Convention reflect the desire of its constituents to anchor the country in the social and climate struggle, and to break with the neoliberal model that has existed for decades.

Next August, after 12 months of writing, a referendum will again be organized to decide whether or not the Chileans approve this new constitution.

The future president intends to form an “ecological government”

Last November are these the presidential election, which brought a new wave of optimism and above all relief. To succeed Conservative President Sébastien Pinera, left-wing candidate Gabriel Boric defeated Juan Antonio Kast, an ultra-conservative candidate, and climate change.

Gabriel Boric delivers victory in Chile’s presidential election in 2021. Credits: wiki.commons

As a mere 35-year-old, Gabriel Boric intends to defend the demands of the 2019 uprising and fight for more social justice in his country. Shortly after his election, Boric declared: “In order for economic recovery and job creation to be sustainable, we must raise inevitable challenge from the climate crisis. We said it, and today I say it again, we will be a green government. “

Its government is already known, and it is Maisa Rojas, climatologist and author of the previous IPCC report, which will be responsible for the Ministry of the Environment. The scientist, who was reluctant to get involved in politics in the first place, finally decided to support Boric in his campaign after the first round of the presidential election.

Maisa Rojas intends to make the water crisis, the implementation of the Climate Change Act, the service for biodiversity and protected areas and the “victim zones” her priorities for tackling the climate crisis, which she wrote on Twitter to announce her appointment to her future post as minister.

However, its room for maneuver must be sufficient to be able to take concrete and effective action, accompanied by structural reforms of the Chilean economic model. Actually Organic struggle will not be without hindrance in this country where mining is a driving force for the economy. Moreover, given the close result of the presidential election, one a large part of the Chilean population remains very conservative and hostile to changes that may reduce some people’s privileges …

It is only left to concretize

If all these events are brings of hope, nothing has been done yet. It is still unknown whether the progressive constitution will benefit the Chilean people when it comes time to vote for its adoption. next August. If adopted, there will still be implement its principles and launch far-reaching reforms to combat the country’s strong social inequalities and climate change.

Former President Gabriel Boric, for his part, to have to demonstrate during his mandate that his ecological speech was not just a beautiful promise and he will know it meet the Chilean elite to fundamentally reform the Chilean model of inequality. Many politicians talk about the fight against climate change, but few put it into practice … Let us hope that the latter will reverse the trend.

– Delphine de H


“Chile launches process of drafting new constitution”, Le Monde told AFP, The worldJuly 4, 2021,

“In Chile, a new constitution liquidates the neoliberal legacy”, Marion Esnault, social atlerDecember 20, 2021, l

“Chile: Writing a Constitution Without Restrictions”, Carolina Cerda-Guzman, AOCNovember 16, 2021,

“We need politicians and experts: how Chile puts the climate crisis first”, John Bartlett, The GuardianFebruary 5, 2022,

“Water, soon a dish for everyone in Chile?” Paul CABANIS, France 2414/10/2020,

“Chile, against an ‘ecocentric’ constitution?», Jean-Marc Adolphe, Fondas Kréyol, 05/01/2022,


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