Right-wing escalates attacks against Chile’s democracy
The Left in the European Parliament condemns sabotage attempts of the Chilean right against the work of the Constitutional Convention, elected to draft the country’s new constitution.
Left MEPs also wrote to EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy chief, Josep Borrell, expressing concern over the EU’s intention to finalise a Free Trade Agreement with Chile before the November general elections and while the constitutional process is ongoing.
Chile’s government lacks popular legitimacy. President Piñera is facing impeachment proceedings following abuse of office revealed in the Pandora Papers. Days ago, he declared a state of emergency in order to send in troops to repress indigenous protests in two southern regions.
Given the seriousness of these developments, The Left is requesting a general debate at the European Parliament about the latest developments in Chile, particularly the attacks.
We call on the EU to refrain from interfering in the work of the Constitutional Convention, by suspending negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement until the new constitutional framework is in place, and to pay attention to right-wing attempts to undermine the process.
Elisa Loncón, an academic of Mapuche descent, was appointed President of the Constitutional Convention, in a blow to the right-wing establishment. She vowed in her acceptance speech to enshrine gender equality and indigenous rights in the new Constitution.
Despite making up more than 12% of Chile’s population of 18.95 million, Chile’s indigenous peoples have historically been socially and politically marginalised. The Left intends to invite Loncón to meet with MEPs at the European Parliament to explain the situation and challenges to her important work.
The demand for a new constitution came alongside a wave of protests that shook the country in 2019 bringing together feminists, environmentalists, indigenous groups and anti-neoliberal activists calling for progressive socio-economic change.
Chile’s dictatorship-era constitution is based on free-market orthodoxy and was used by dictator Pinochet to crackdown on fundamental rights, in particular those of the largest indigenous group, the Mapuche.
Left and progressive independents won the majority in the 155-seat Constitutional Convention showing the Chilean people’s desire for a Constitution that guarantees gender equality, plurinationality and the preservation of public goods.
Ever since the Constitutional Convention started its work in July 2021, it has been the target of incessant attacks by the country’s right-wing establishment, corporate media and big business.
As a way to undermine and delay the drafting of the Constitution, the hard-right has refused to cooperate at different stages in the process and its powerful media has launched a smear campaign against the body and its President, in addition to online harassment and threats against members.
Despite the transition to democracy, Chile’s economic system has remained largely untouched since the Pinochet era. The country has long been considered a laboratory for free-market economics, resulting in high cost of living, inequalities, environmental degradation, privatisations and corporate impunity. This latest right-wing offensive is a last-ditch attempt to preserve the privileges the current constitution grants to the country’s elite.
The right opposes the recognition of fundamental rights such as education, access to water and land – where private actors have large interests – and the declaration of Chile as a Plurinational Republic.
The 2019 Chilean popular protests and the subsequent gains of the Left and progressive forces that led to the plebiscite, and the support for a new constitution, heralded the beginning of a new era of hope for democracy, economic and social justice, progressive values and human rights in Chile.
The Left in the European Parliament stands in solidarity with the people of Chile and their struggle, expressing its full support for the Constitutional Convention, the integrity of its work and a new constitution that guarantees fundamental rights in full respect of the will of the people.