The defeat of neofascism in Chile

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By ATILIO A. BORON*

A proposal with procedural defects was rejected, due to the undemocratic nature of its gestation and operation; and the reduction of rights and guarantees still contained in the 1980 Constitution

Sunday's referendum in Chile was not only about whether or not to approve a retrograde constitutional aberration, but also a first test of the arrangement of political forces with a view to the presidential elections of November 2025. Fortunately, the verdict of the polls put an end to the new constitutional proposal and provided a severe setback to the neo-fascist right's hopes of establishing itself in pole position of the future presidential race. This is because, if the “A favor” had triumphed, the far-right Republican Party and its leader, José Antonio Kast, would have already started the presidential campaign seeking to capitalize on the decision taken by the Chilean people, deepening the disorganization and disorientation of the democratic sectors. and progressive.

Shortly after the result was known, voices emerged, in many cases with bad intentions: they said that with their vote the population had ratified Pinochet's Constitution. This conclusion is not only malicious, but also erroneous, because that was not what was at stake. It cannot be forgotten that, in 2020, 78% of the Chilean people voted to reject this constitutional body. What would be decided on Sunday was whether the new proposal, drawn up in the sewers of the Chilean oligarchic power, would be accepted by the population. The result was categorical: “Contra” won with 56% of the votes, despite the intense campaigns of disinformation, resignation and encouragement of abstentionism, desperately launched by the right.

Voting is now mandatory in Chile, but the 88% participation rate says a lot about the failure of this campaign and the healthy willingness to participate that was evident this Sunday. In a nutshell, they rejected a Constitution that violated fundamental social and labor rights, blessed the total commodification of the environment, further weakened national sovereignty over common goods, enshrined impunity in matters of human rights and significantly restricted the rights of women and of different gender identities.

In short, a proposal with procedural defects was rejected, due to the undemocratic nature of its gestation and operation; and, substantially, the reduction of rights and guarantees still contained in the 1980 Constitution, especially if we consider that – according to a UNDP study on constitutional changes at an international level – in the post-dictatorial period, this diploma had been the subject of 69 laws of reform. This made it the most reformed Constitution in Chile's history.

As a result of these changes – which, in any case, maintained the basic philosophy of its reactionary editor, Jaime Guzmán Errázuriz –, article 8 was eliminated, which “prohibited groups or parties of a totalitarian character or based on class struggle”, or that is, the communists; The presidential power of exile and the requirement that constitutional reforms be approved by two consecutive Congresses were also eliminated. Furthermore, the existence of appointed senators for life (9) was annulled, which were added to the 38 elected by popular will. And the presidential term was reduced from six to four years.

Taking these antecedents into account, the proposal created by the libertarians constituted a significant setback that, fortunately, was aborted by the defeat of “A favor”. In the coming years, Chile will have to face the task of approving a genuinely democratic Constitution, purged of Pinochet's legacies and the restorative and authoritarian aspirations of his rapacious ruling class and the partycracy that governs in his name, none of which accept the establishment of a democracy worthy of the name.

This will not happen during the remainder of Gabriel Boric's term, but it is an unfinished business that must be resolved without further delay in the next presidential term and which will require enormous efforts to raise awareness and organize democratic and popular forces. Meanwhile, it's time to celebrate. Not because something good was chosen, but because the Chilean people wisely prevented the bad from being followed by something much worse. And, in fact, looking at things from this side of the Andes, a victory for the extreme right in Chile was prevented from reinforcing the “market savagery” of Argentine anarcho-capitalism.

*Atilio A. Boron is professor of political science at the University of Buenos Aires. Author, among other books, of Minerva's Owl (Voices).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

Originally published in the newspaper page 12.


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