Millions of Chileans have voted overwhelmingly to scrap the country’s dictatorship-era Constitution and draw up a new one. Chileans on referendum.
Jane Chambers spoke to a selection of people in Santiago about what they voted for, and their expectations.
Fernanda Namur: ‘I hope our new constitution will represent the country we truly are’
“Ever since Pinochet’s coup d’etat almost 50 years ago, Chile has been filled with class discrimination, institutionalised inequality, racism and xenophobia.
“Our current constitution was written by the military elite. I really hope our new constitution will finally represent the country we truly are.
“I want the new constitution to represent the young girls who first jumped the turnstiles [during the fare evasion protests which mushroomed into mass anti-government protests which brought about the referendum].
“I hope it represents the [indigenous] Mapuche people and their ancestral rights. I hope it represents our lower class, and gives them a fighting chance in this seemingly rigged game through decent education and accessible medical care.
“It needs to represent our elder citizens, who shouldn’t have such miserable pensions.”
“It should represent members of the LGBT community who have been murdered in our streets [in homophobic attacks].
“I really want it to represent Chile, and not the story of a country that only existed in the minds of the powerful.
“Even though we won the vote, I think our fight for dignity still has a long way to go.”
Christian Gostling: ‘We need to change the laws’
Owner of a kiosk selling books
“I voted against having a new constitution, even though I am in favour of all the things that people are asking for in the protests like better education, healthcare and pensions. But, they aren’t part of the constitution.” Chileans on referendum.
“We need to change the laws. Everything that people are asking for will take too long to achieve because it will take so long to design a new constitution and change things. The politicians should be getting on with making reforms now and not caught up in the whole new constitution process.
“Even though they have won I think the protests will also continue, because they want solutions straight away.”
Mario Bustos Mansilla: ‘The result is a sign of hope’
“I am so happy with the result. Now we have to pick the right people to design a new constitution. And I am pleased we can do it in a democracy, unlike the last time [when the constitution was drawn up under military rule]. Chileans on referendum.
“I want there to be a written record of our basic rights, which for me are education, healthcare, housing. They need to nationalise our water and recognise the rights of our indigenous people.
“Some people worry it will take too long to write, but no constitution is written in less than two years. And I don’t think we will have more violent protests now because we have won and that gives us a sign of hope to the protestors who want justice.”
Janet Catalan Mulato: ‘It would have been better to change the constitution we have’
“I don’t think that having a new constitution is a good idea, it would be far better to make changes to the one we currently have.
“It’s going to take ages to write a new one and in the meantime we should be improving things. There are so many people who haven’t even read the one we have and they think it’s going to be so much better and it will sort out all their problems, but it won’t.”
“There’s so much ignorance around what happens next. There are all these people out on the streets protesting and it’s not helping us. They say they are supporting a new constitution but all they are doing is destroying things.”
Pamela Charad: ‘This is our chance to make things right’
“It’s going to be difficult, but at least we should have the option to get together and decide what we want for ourselves and that’s why I am here voting.
“There is so much inequality in Chile and things need to be fairer. I want better healthcare and education for everyone.