“Rebirth” Chile votes to rewrite Pinochet-era constitution

Orlando Barria/EPA, via Shutterstock

A huge majority of Chileans, on Sunday, voted to rewrite the country’s Pinochet-era constitution which enabled four decades of social and economic inequality for four decades. In Sunday’s referendum, 78.12 percent of voters opted for a new constitution while the rest disagreed for change.

Thousands came on the streets of the capital Santiago and other cities to celebrate the reform.

The referendum was conceded by Chilean president Sebastián Piñera in November last year after a hike in metro rail fares flared into a movement against inequality and high costs of living.

Massive demonstrations included episodes of violent clashes with police forces left more than 30 civilians killed and thousands injured.

Principally written by Pinochet adviser Jaime Guzmán, the 1980 constitution enshrined the neoliberal philosophies of the Chicago Boys, a group of Chilean conservatives mentored by US economist Milton Friedman.

It advocated minimal state intervention, allowing private sectors to control public services.

Political and social groups have a two-month window to nominate candidates to form the constitutional assembly.

In April, the public will elect 155 members, with equal numbers of men and women — significantly, the world’s first constitution to achieve gender parity.

They will draft the charter over nine months, with the option of a three-month extension.