The death of the world’s most modern structure was witnessed by the eyes

Chile, once again, became a laboratory that created the world’s first egalitarian and ecological constitution; Even the most developed countries watched our steps hoping to emulate them.

“The eyes of the world are on Chile” must be one of the most heard phrases in the international media in recent weeks.

As a Chilean citizen living abroad, particularly in Berlin, Germany, I closely followed the interests of our country’s press and the large number of columns written for the German and European public on the referendum and its implications for the region and the world at large. . Television and news broadcasts echoed how the last vestiges of dictatorship were being dismantled, preparing programs with special envoys and visiting experts. And it was not for less: Chile, once again, became a laboratory that created the first equality and ecological structure in the world; Even the most developed countries watched our steps hoping to emulate them.

But we were also the country in the eyes of the world that, after a great political and social crisis, resolved itself through institutional and electoral means, without a messiah, or breaking the rules of the democratic game. The most painful problems of our society: poverty, misery, abuse, fear of old age without sustenance, illness with precious treatment, life paid in monthly installments to the bank.

Thus, the year 2019 began the shortest and most intense political cycle in our history that exposed the great wound of Chile: its deep inequality, which extended the hand of exclusion to every corner of our geography, reaching even our family life and private, and which was rooted in the dictatorship was intimately rooted in the last legacy: the 1980 Constitution.

The protagonists of the history of 2019 uprising were invisible in the front lines for the first time, followed by young students, women, boys and girls, housewives and workers, middle class professionals, intellectuals, traders, common and present people. The strength of this great movement was shown in every battle fought against the police forces, which ended with many protesters being blinded, beaten, tortured, even killed.

Oppressive history was repeated, only this time blindness was used as a warning weapon to those who dared to lose control of our “oasis of peace”, a clearly perverse and inhumane punishment. Then came the agreement for peace and the institutional solution to the conflict, which, by the way, was not signed because of the good will of the political class, but was forced by the force of social movements.

After the agreement, an intense election cycle begins. The story from then until the close (now momentarily) of this cycle is familiar to all: the exit referendum, which ended last September 4 with an overwhelming victory in favor of rejection.

newspaper on 5 September Frankfurter Rundschau (in Germany) published an article with the following title: Nach gescheitertem Referendum: Chiles Angst vor der Freiheit (After referendum failure: Chile fears independence). The column celebrated the victory of rejection with photos of several women with Chilean flags in their hands. The image was accompanied by a caption that read: “Chilean women seem to be celebrating that they are able to avoid equal constitutional rights.”

This image touched me deeply, and it is too complicated to answer the questions of foreigners who do not know all the pieces of this puzzle and do not understand why the majority of Chileans renounced the minimum rights that make reproduction possible. of life. This result was unfathomable even to European feminists, who enthusiastically followed suit performance For example, of Las Teces, but also for all those who watched with curious eyes the debates of the Constitutional Convention and the great number of innovations and proposals, which were new debates, even here, in the North of the world.

Observing this process from a distance, the question arises, why was a text that was clearly democratic and, to some extent, representative of the progress of civilization, rejected? And here I will try to read a little. However, I will not focus on explaining the explosive cocktail that resulted from the citizen’s poorly evaluated and ingredient process with excessive sharpness. Neither in the flaws and inaccuracies of the new constitutional charter, nor in the media’s great power to establish half-truths, or in straight-up fake debates about constitutional process and traditional issues. Neither in the responsibility of President Borik or the political class, nor in the unequal distribution of campaign resources between the two options, although all these factors are discussed at length.

Instead, I will focus on what this defeat means for the most progressive sectors and, above all, for the Chilean left, which suffers from similar shortcomings in much of the Western world.

In the first place, the rejection of the text came from its inability to address people’s pain and everyday problems, uncertainty and helplessness. Concretely, there was no way out of the precarious physical condition in which the majority of Chileans lived, who, moreover, had lost all connections with the state and its policies and politicians.

Given that identity prevails in the constitutional debate, the text communicates only with a part of Chile, and specifically with an elite class, the most intellectual, which meets many of its basic needs, albeit in debt. However, the rights of sexual minorities, gender equality or the rights of nature, were a dead letter for the average Chilean family, which, more often than we think, must go into debt to feed itself, so raw.

It is inconceivable that the constitutional debate has not begun to include social rights (health, education, pensions, etc.), which have been most demanded by the people for years and which are at the center of the daily inequalities that abuse the population. And with this I am not saying that identity claims are not important, but in a country like Chile, where there is no minimum guarantee for human sustenance for some sectors of the population, we cannot afford not to start with the essentials. most essential.

With a disastrous outcome on our hands, we must be brave enough not to blame the poor education of the people or the ferocious campaign of disinformation and lies, whose repertoire and strategy we knew well from the second presidential round between Boric and Kast. . For me, no one is more culpable than the messengers and architects of this unique opportunity we squandered, and this should lead us to a deep reflection that allows us to not only face the next elections, but to re-arm ourselves. In the face of the real threat that lurks us: the advent of the extreme right to power.

The harsh defeat in the referendum for the broad sector of the left, which has suffered the most from the poorest sectors of the population, is partly due to the lack of cohesion between the left parties, but also between the opposition and identity movements. Not to mention the common people, the marginalized and the voiceless.

Although the 2019 uprising has strong roots in popular sectors, this niche still seems to be outside the orbit of those leading constitutional change from the progressive world. Could it be that the Chilean left has lost its “class consciousness” and the ability to fight accordingly with the interests of the most disadvantaged? Judging by the results, it seems, and the onus falls on us to accept the receipt of this blow.

The Left doesn’t speak the language of the invisible right now, it doesn’t understand its dynamics or its pain; For now, he is not qualified to speak for the underdog. This is despite the fact that they have made visible the diversity of demand in public space. At the moment we have lost the only chance to destroy Pinochet’s constitution, and we have accidentally given air to a right that has not hesitated to take advantage of the victory as if it were really theirs.

Currently the situation is uncertain. Boric’s government has been forced to turn to the center and give voice to the more moderate left, in search of valid interlocutors who will allow it to negotiate with the right on the terms of a new constitutional process, although they now have “the pot by the handle”. ” “We dance to your rhythm”, or so it seems, also threatens to set the tone for the tax and social security reforms currently being debated. We are back in the hands of those who condemned us to live in a constitution of abuse. , and if the Left and the progressive world fail to understand the needs of the broad groups of underprivileged people who voted for its rejection, the worst may come. Without an exercise in listening, understanding and genuine engagement, it will be impossible to think of winning any political campaign from now on, and we We risk going backwards by leaps and bounds.

The dilemma we face is how to end this political cycle without empty hands? How do we make all this pain and consolidation worthwhile? It’s a question that makes sense now that three years later nothing has improved, quite the opposite. Today we have worse signs of inequality and suffering spread to every corner of the country, we refer to hundreds of lost and disfigured eyes on our backs as a reminder of the most terrible years of our recent history.

Claudia Maldonado Grass

PhD in Sociology from Frei University, Berlin.

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