On 25 October 2020, Chileans will have the right to vote for a new constitution and a new constituent assembly of representatives.
Lautaro Carmona, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Chile, told Nuevo Mundo on 27 August that October’s referendum will be “decisive for the future of the country” and “for conquering a society that is really democratic and just”.
Chile’s current constitution was put into place in 1980 under the military and terrorist dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
“The existing institutional parameters are anti-democratic and based on the interests of the oligarchy … A new constitution will allow the full integration of every citizen in the democratic system and will allow us to enshrine fundamental things like the right to health, a home and a proper salary,” Carmona stated.
“Pinochet’s constitution is based upon a fascist orientated coup that came about to destroy the democratic path started under the presidency of Allende.
“A new constitution legitimised by the sovereingty of the people … will allow us to make deep transfomations to the neoliberal development model” of the country, he concluded.
In the Chilean political system, the parliament cannot technically pass legislation that may incur costs on the Government, reducing the power of a popularly elected parliament and concentrating power in the presidency. Many of the politicians, generals and other functionaries of the Pinochet regime remain.
However, popular mobilisations in defence of living conditions and democratic rights, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary struggle, have not only continued, but intensified since the election of right-wing president Sebastian Pinera.
Communists and other progressives are now campaigning for a vote for a new constitution and a new “constituent convention” that will “put an end to the unequal and abusive economic system” in Chile.
Chilean dictator Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected socialist orientated government of Salvador Allende in a coup backed by the United States in 1973. He also enjoyed a close political friendship with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
He was responsible for the murder, torture and forced disappearance of tens of thousands of people, especially progressives, labour movement activists and Communists.
He also tested, for the first time, some of the experimental “neoliberal” economic ideas from right-wing academics like Milton Friedman that were later embraced by Reagan and Thatcher and propagated in institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.