Chile: Social Movements Break with the Orthodox Left for a Sovereign Constitutional Assembly

FROM THE EDITORS: On June 8, 2021, the Voice of the Peoples of the popular revolt to the constitutional assembly, a group of 34 (now 38) elected constituents in Chile, representatives of the ethnic, social, political, and cultural diversity of that country, published a public manifesto to announce six fundamental demands towards a fair and just Constitutional Convention: (1) the freedom of political prisoners in Chile; (2) an end to pacts of silence and total impunity for those responsible for human rights violations; (3) reparations for all victims; (4) the demilitarization of the Wallmapu (Mapuche territories); (5) an end to deportations; and (6) Constitutional Convention sovereignty. They insist that the process to create a new Constitution cannot be limited by “immovable rules” established by the legislature.

On June 10, representatives of the so-called center-left establishment, who have benefited from the neoliberal legality of Pinochet’s Constitution, had a furious reaction against the Voice of the Peoples and the social movements that this coalition represents. In their letter, they disqualify the legitimate representation of the constituents, saying that they are “supposedly invested by some other type of popular sovereignty.” Furthermore, they describe social mobilizations, like the one that gave rise to the Constitutional Convention, as a “threat” and calls to reject “in every place and occasion” those they describe as “violent.” Furthermore, they do not mention indigenous peoples, youth, sexual and gender diversities as an indication of their absolute political-social blindness, to say the least.

In response, more than 600 civil society organizations have signed a new letter of support for the Voice of the Peoples, demonstrating that it does represent social, indigenous, feminist, union, regional, community, artist, and human rights organizations, and collectively claim a: “Shared path for a dignified life for all the peoples that inhabit this country and put an end to more than 30 years of neoliberalism. It won’t be the elite nor doctrinal parties who close a process that opened up through the people’s struggle. It is not an issue of this or that party, but a transversal articulation of constituents of indigenous and independent peoples.” Below we share the press conference and the manifesto of the Spokesperson, translated into English by Awasqa.

Voice of the Peoples of the popular revolt to the constitutional assembly 

We are facing a new historical cycle in Chile. We owe this change, as well as the constitutional process that accompanies it, to no other than the inescapable and overwhelming force with which people have risen up. We have challenged those politically responsible for the precariousness of life, while we propose to fight against the devastation of our territories and the criminalization of our struggles for more than 30, 47, 500 years. After jumping over the first and then the second turnstile, and facing a government that declared war on us and pointed its weapons at our eyes, we came from every corner of the country and finally lost our fear. 

Over a year after that event, we are going to put an end to Pinochet’s constitution. We stand now before our first constitutional process thanks to historical popular participation and as the world’s first gender parity constituent body.

As constitutional bearers of collective mandates that come from territories, movements, and social organizations, we manifest our democratic commitment to the sovereign exercise of the peoples. We set foot on the entrance to pour into the Convention, and we will not allow the door to close behind us. We summon each other to make effective the popular sovereignty of the constitutional process, expressed both in the given regulations and norms, without subordinating to an Agreement for Peace that the peoples never signed. We also affirm that the entire institutionality of our country shall submit to popular deliberation. 

We summon each other to shake free, once again, from the heavy normality with which they intend to impose anti-democratic political conditions for the development of this process. The mobilized peoples have said it with full clarity: normality has always been the problem. Today we have before us the task of making palpable the extraordinary nature of current political events, consolidating the conditions of this new political cycle in Chile. 

The conditions for this new cycle must mark a break with the continuity of the State violence that we have faced so far. Below we present the 6 demands, which intend to become a Voice of the Peoples for a new Chile: 

  1. FREEDOM: End all political imprisonments in Chile, freeing all prisoners of the revolt and Mapuche people. 
  2. TRUTH AND JUSTICE: End all secret pacts and total impunity for the systematic violation of human rights of yesterday and today, against social activists of all generations. We cannot continue a constitutional process without initiating a process of political and material responsibility for the State Terrorism that we have suffered. 
  3. REPARATIONS: A general process of recognition and reparations must be initiated for the thousands of victims of human rights violations, particularly regarding political and sexual violence. Likewise, we affirm that the socio-environmental devastation and all the projects that today seek to deepen that situation must stop, starting a path to restore nature, which we are a part of.
  4. DEMILITARIZATION: The continuity of colonial violence persists through the militarization of Wallmapu / Araucanía and the persecution of our Mapuche sisters and brothers. The way towards a Plurinational State must begin with an end to the State’s occupation of Mapuche territories. Along with this, we demand the end of the current militarization that dresses up an exclusively authoritarian and repressive deployment as a health measure, while the pandemic worsens every day.
  5. NO MORE DEPORTATIONS: While the crisis and the pandemic rages as a result of its criminal management, the government has strengthened its policies of deportation, persecution, and criminalization of migrants. We demand that all illegal deportations that have already affected dozens of families be suspended. 
  6. SOVEREIGNTY: The original constitutional power is a fully autonomous power established to reorder the political body of a society, limited by the respect of fundamental rights. Consequently, the process opened by the peoples cannot be limited to the drafting of a new constitution under immovable rules, but must be expressive of the popular will, reaffirming its constitutional character sustained in the broad popular deliberation and social mobilization within and outside the convention. Along the same lines, we reject the extreme urgency placed on TPP-11 [Trans-Pacific Partnership] and any measure that tries to limit the possibility of exercising the constitutional power of this process.

These six points are the beginning of a policy of dignity that places first and foremost the life of the majority and the profound popular desire to transform it.

The undersigned constituents, independent of the traditional parties, economic and ecclesiastical powers, subscribe to this pronouncement and become part of a constitutional voice of the peoples. 

  1. Natividad Llanquileo Pilquimán. Constituyente Mapuche
  2. Elisa Loncon Antileo, Constituyente Mapuche
  3. Rosa Catrileo Arias, Constituyente Mapuche
  4. Eric Chinga, Constituyente Pueblo Diaguita
  5. Luis Alberto Jiménez Cáceres, Constituyente Aymara
  6. Isabel Godoy Monárdez, Constituyente Pueblo Colla
  7. Dayyana Gonzalez, Distrito 3, Lista del Pueblo 
  8. Cristina Dorador Ortiz, Distrito 3, Movimiento Independientes del Norte
  9. Constanza San Juan Standen, Distrito 4, Asamblea Constituyente Atacama
  10. Daniel Bravo Silva, Distrito 5, Lista del Pueblo – Movimiento Territorial Constituyente
  11. Ivanna Olivares , Distrito 5, Anamuri – Movimiento Territorial Constituyente – Modatima – Lista del Pueblo
  12. Janis Meneses Palma, Distrito 6, Coordinadora Movimientos Sociales
  13. Carolina Vilches, Distrito 6, Modatima
  14. Cristobal Andrade, Distrito 6, Lista del Pueblo
  15. Lisette Vergara, Distrito 6, Lista del Pueblo
  16. Camila Zárate, Distrito 7, Lista del Pueblo
  17. Marco Arellano, Distrito 8, La Lista del Pueblo
  18. Maria Rivera, Distrito 8, Lista del Pueblo – MIT
  19. Alejandra Pérez Espina, Distrito 9, Lista del Pueblo
  20. Alondra Carrillo Vidal, Distrito 12, Voces Constituyentes – CF8M
  21. Rodrigo Rojas Vade, Distrito 13, Lista del Pueblo
  22. Francisco Caamaño Rojas Distrito 14, Asamblea Territorial del Maipo
  23. Loreto Vallejos Dávila, Distrito 15, Lista del Pueblo
  24. María Elisa Quinteros Cáceres, Distrito 17, Asamblea Popular por la Dignidad
  25. Elsa Labraña Pino, Distrito 17, Lista del Pueblo
  26. Francisca Arauna Urrutia, Distrito 18, La Lista del Pueblo Maule Sur
  27. Fernando Salinas, Distrito 18, Lista del Pueblo Maule Sur
  28. César Uribe Araya, distrito 19, Fuerza Social de Ñuble, la Lista del Pueblo
  29. Bastián Labbe Salazar, Distrito 20, Asamblea Popular Constituyente
  30. Vanessa Hoppe Espoz, Distrito 21, Coordinadora Nahuelbuta Biobio Constituyente
  31. Manuela Royo, Distrito 23, Modatima
  32. Adriana Ampuero, Distrito 26, Red de Organizaciones Territoriales y Asambleas de Chiloé
  33. Elisa Giustinianovich, Distrito 28, Coordinadora Social Magallanes
  34. Manuel Woldarsky, D10, Lista del pueblo

Additional signatures:

  1. Isabella Mamani, Constituyente Aymará
  2. Fernando Tirado, Constituyente Pueblo Chango
  3. Alejandra Flores, Distrito 2, Independientes de Tarapacá – ANAMURI
  4. Victorino Antilef, Constituyente Mapuche

Organisations