Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

Chile’s new Constitution: Don’t screw anyone over

The new governing document must offer common ground regarding who we are and who we want to be. It must be a framework that is capable of representing everyone. But none of this is possible with the proposed constitutional text

Nueva Constitución Chile 2023
A copy of the constitutional proposal, in Santiago (Chile), in November 2023.Vivallo Oñate (Getty Images)

When we began this journey, we sought to write a new Constitution of Chile that would provide us with a robust and flexible framework — one that would allow us to address the challenges facing our country. Unfortunately, instead of uniting us, the current proposed constitutional text divides us. And, when it comes to facing issues of governance, it will continue to divide us.

The Constitution must be common ground for who we are and who we want to be. It must be the framework in which we all fit… the governing document must be capable of representing all of us. But with the proposed constitutional text, this doesn’t occur. It has certain elements that we cannot ignore.

This proposed text reflects the interests of a single political sector, repeating the same errors of the previous process. According to experts, it has serious technical deficiencies and could lead to a high risk of contention.

On some issues, such as women’s rights, the proposal puts limits on what we’ve promoted for decades: true state protection and a broad debate on critical issues, such as equal pay, reproductive rights, or equal participation in politics. Now is the time to resist attempts to make us go back on the progress we’ve made. The decriminalization of abortion on three grounds could be declared unconstitutional, due to the article that establishes that “the law protects the life of the unborn,” or by the article that affirms that “a child is any human being under 18 years of age.”

We also have to think about our children and adolescents, who are the future of Chile. Their rights and duties are not explicitly guaranteed in this proposal. This is especially worrying if we think about those who are living in situations of vulnerability or abandonment.

In terms of health, the ISAPRE model — the system made up of various private health insurance providers — is constitutionalized and the right to health is conditioned on the economic capacity of individuals. Meanwhile, in terms of social security, the proposed Constitution prevents any reform of the system, so that it may provide decent pensions… something that citizens have desired for years. Additionally, it establishes regressive regulations, such as the elimination of the payment of certain contributions by the citizenry. If approved, this would, in turn, reduce the coffers of the Municipal Common Fund, which serves so many cities and towns with limited resources, so that they can have a larger budget. The proposed text doesn’t offer any way to replace these funds.

The true concerns of Chileans aren’t resolved with this constitutional text. Despite what many have said — despite what they want us to believe in the campaign — security has never been resolved by any Constitution. To face this challenge — a challenge that transcends governments — the unity of the entire society is needed. Today, we need politicians who focus on citizens’ priorities: security, employment, health, housing and education, among other issues.

A vote against this text will allow us to finally close this process — as the political parties have already indicated — and leave room for agreement on these priority matters. On the contrary, if the text were to be approved, what would occur is that, in the coming years, both this government and the next would have to dedicate their time and energy to implementing the new Constitution. We would be waiting for years for them to agree to approve the laws and make the necessary compromises, in order to turn a bad constitutional proposal into a viable reality.

The South African Bishop Desmond Tutu once said: “I am a prisoner of hope.” I, too, have hope that Chileans will understand that the Constitution should unite us. It should give us certainties for the coming years; it should include all political sectors, and it should ensure the rights of both men and women. A new Constitution should strengthen our democracy.

On Sunday, December 17, we have to vote with the conviction that the option we choose will allow us — as a country — to focus on the challenges that afflict people today. Our vote will allow us — with greater unity — to reach agreements that will ensure a more prosperous future for all.

We don’t want anyone to be screwed over in our country. Chile deserves that we continue working for a vision that unites us and does not divide us. Don’t let anyone be harmed.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS