Chilean society is once again at the culmination of a transformative constitutional process. This pivotal juncture will decide whether the constitution drafted by a legislature dominated by conservative and right-wing parties will replace the current constitution which was established during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. After a first failed attempt to establish a new constitution, this new draft introduces stricter measures concerning irregular migration, firmly entrenches the existing pension and healthcare systems—both subjects of substantial critique. It additionally introduces provisions that pose significant threats to sexual and reproductive rights, specifically through the establishment of “rights for those who are about to be born” and the legalization of “conscientious objection” regarding the provision of goods and services.
The matter of Kenya sending 1000 police women and men to Haiti is but one of the many decisions our government is taking without our participation and consent. The Constitution is very clear that our foreign policy has to comply with the decrees of the Constitution. Foreign policy decisions by the government are unconstitutional when they violate any of the provisions of the Constitution. Article 1 of our Constitution decrees that all sovereign power belongs to us, the Kenyan people. Indeed, sovereign power is delegated to the national executive and can be exercised directly by the Kenyan people themselves.
Raúl Choquevilca—the president of the indigenous community of Ocumazo, in Humahuaca, Jujuy province of Argentina, and member of the Assembly of the Third Malón de la Paz—confirmed on a local radio interview that a new day of protests was beginning in Jujuy against the express and unconsented regional constitutional reform, promoted by Gerardo Morales, the governor of Jujuy province. In a communiqué released this Thursday, July 6, Choquevilca informed that all roads will be blocked and that no traffic will be allowed “until the constitutional reform is repealed,” although they clarified that they will allow the transit of essential services.
Thousands of people have rallied in cities and towns across Australia to back a campaign to recognise the country’s Indigenous people in the constitution in advance of a referendum later this year. The gatherings on Sunday, organised by the Yes23 campaign, were part of a nationwide “day of action” to rally the public after a recent dip in support for the constitutional change. The proposal, which will be put up for a referendum between October and December, seeks to establish an advisory body – the Indigenous Voice to Parliament – to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a direct say in policies that affect them.
A groundbreaking climate change trial will begin on Monday in a courtroom in Montana’s capital city, involving 16 young residents who allege state officials violated their constitutional rights to a healthy environment. Filed in March 2020, the lawsuit, Held v Montana, will mark the first-ever constitutional climate trial in US history. “We’re asking the government and the courts to do their job and protect us, along with the rest of Montana’s citizens and our incredible home state; this case is one big opportunity for the state to become a leader in preserving a safe, beautiful and prosperous future for Montana,” Grace Gibson-Snyder, a 19-year-old plaintiff, said.
On Wednesday morning, May 17, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso decreed the dissolution of the National Assembly, the country’s unicameral parliament, using the “cross-death” constitutional mechanism. Lasso argued that there was a “serious political crisis and internal commotion” in the country, and that the dissolution of the opposition majority parliament was a “constitutional solution” and a “democratic action.” Lasso’s decision came a day after the parliament began an impeachment hearing against him. He is accused of corruption and embezzlement of public funds.
Last week marked four years of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange being held at Britain’s Belmarsh Prison while he awaits the outcome of his fight to block extradition to the United States. While the U.S. government is also charging Assange with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, the core of its case is that Assange violated the 1917 Espionage Act by “possessing” and releasing “defense” material that caused “injury” to the United States or gave “advantage” to other nations, a boundless and limitless standard that can turn virtually any journalist or blogger into a criminal defendant. No other direction, definition or limitation appears in this law that is now being applied to Assange.
Just one week ago, people went to the polls in Chile for the historic constitutional referendum, where the social forces supporting the idea of a new constitution were swept away. The negative vote exceeded 61%, while the draft constitution go just a little more than 38%. Many may think such a result speaks for itself, but it goes deeper than that. Understanding what happened in Chile is not only an exercise for politicians and analysts, but an obligation for progressive movements throughout the region. Just the day before the vote, we analyzed the situation and concluded the new Constitution could pass. We based our analysis on two studies elaborated by two recognized teams, which contradicted all the opinion polls spread by Chile’s mainstream media.
Sept. 1 was the last day to campaign for the Constitutional referendum to be held on Sept. 4 in Chile. In this vote, Chileans will decide whether to approve the country’s new Constitution, closing over a decade of social struggles, whose final stage began with 2019 people’s massive protests in the subways and streets. The first step of this constitutional process was the entry (first) referendum, in which 78.28% of voters decided it was necessary to overrule the Pinochet Constitution from 1980. In only 72 hours, this process will end, but tension and uncertainty grow as time goes by. Many opinion polls point out that the Constitution won’t be passed. It has been something repeated to exhaustion. This prediction never withstood any analysis of the Chilean political context.
The first step toward a new constitution in Chile is now complete. The draft of the new Magna Carta was officially delivered on May 16, paving the way for major changes in Chilean society, particularly in the areas of social rights, gender parity in political participation, and constitutional recognition of native peoples. In terms of social rights, the new constitution recognizes demands that have been a banner for popular struggles since Augusto Pinochet’s neoliberal counterrevolution in the 1970s. It guarantees access to health, housing, education, decent pensions, nonsexist education, and the right to abortion, all grouped under the concept of a “social and democratic state” that recognizes itself as plurinational, intercultural, and ecological.
Chileans will vote in September on whether to approve a new constitution that promises to address inequality and lack of democracy (Reuters, 7/4/22). It would replace the present constitution imposed by the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who came into power through a US-backed coup in 1973. The nation’s newly elected left-wing leadership is calling for a “yes” vote, although in the much-divided country, the constitution faces steep opposition from the right. US and Western editorialists are also pushing for a no vote. Opposition to the constitution’s economic changes should be expected; of course conservative and corporate centrist outlets will be against a proposed constitution that would make way for economic regulation and nationalization.
On July 25, a national referendum will be held in Tunisia to vote on the draft of a new constitution being presented by President Kais Saied. The move has faced criticism from political players representing workers’ voices in Tunisia, with numerous parties calling for a boycott of the upcoming referendum. Why is the constitution facing such criticism? Fadil Aliriza, founder and editor-in-chief of Meshkal, answers this and more.
Following the election of a progressive government in Chile earlier this year, the country has been debating a new constitution written under revolutionary conditions: by a convention with gender equality, representation of Indigenous peoples, and with many members from environmental justice movements. As the draft is finalized ahead of a referendum in September, social media across the country has been awash with ‘explainer’ posts and videos in favor of the new texts — and debunking misinformation telling people that their pensions will be expropriated, for example. Most of the pro-constitution posts boil down to a single line: no one is going to take your home away from you. The presence of such worries among the population can tell us a lot about political and economic change: When the time comes to transform revolutionary aspirations into legal infrastructure, we are touched at our core fears: what do we, the people of Chile, have to lose in this process of transformation?