Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Chileans in the country's streets marked a victory on Friday as the government agreed to hold a referendum on replacing the dictatorship-era constitution.

Chileans in the country's streets marked a victory on Friday as the government agreed to hold a referendum on replacing the dictatorship-era constitution. (Photo:  Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images)

'A Victory for the Whole Country': Chile to Hold Referendum on Rewriting Constitution

"We are here thanks to many Chileans that have risked their lives to make Chile a fairer country."

Eoin Higgins, staff writer

The Chilean government on Friday officially began the processs of writing a new constitution for the country by approving a popular referendum, a bow to the demands of the nationwide protest movement that began in Santiago on October 15. 

The referendum will ask the country to weigh in on whether the old constitution, a relic of the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, should be replaced. Voters will also have the opportunity to determine how the new document is drafted. 

"This is a victory for the whole country," Senate president Jamie Quintana, a frequent critic of Chilean President Sebastien Piñera, said in a press conference early Friday. "We offer for the first time a constitution that is 100% democratic."

Quintana called the proposal the beginning of a "building of a true social contract" and hoped that the process would mark the end of violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces that have seen at least 20 people dead. 

Friday's announcement marks a formalization of a government declaration Monday that the constitution would be rewritten, though no timeline was given then. 

In comments to Bloomberg, lawmaker Gabriel Boric of the left-leaning Frente Amplio praised the protest movement and held up the constitution announcement as a success for the people of Chile.

"We are here thanks to many Chileans that have risked their lives to make Chile a fairer country," said Boric. "Political forces have reached agreements that seemed impossible just a few days ago."

As Common Dreams reported, protests began in October, sparked by a youth movement rejecting an increase in subway fares in the capital Santiago. The unrest has continued in the face of brutal state oppression as Chileans have stood fast for political change.

On Friday, they got their wish.

"Now is the time to respond to citizens and do everything possible to build a better, fairer Chile," said center-left Partido Por la Democracia leader Heraldo Muñoz. "This fundamental charter needs to represent all of us."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

MSNBC Declines to Voluntarily Recognize Newsroom Union Effort

Organizers said that "we want to support one another and make this an even better place to build a career."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


Sanders Speaks Out Against 'Dangerous' Chorus Pushing for New Cold War With China

"Developing a mutually beneficial relationship with China will not be easy," the senator writes. "But we can do better than a new Cold War."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


Indigenous Women Invite Deb Haaland to See Devastation of Line 3 for Herself

The tar sands project "poses a significant threat to water, Indigenous treaty rights, and worsens the global climate crisis," the group wrote to Biden's Interior Secretary.

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·


After SCOTUS Upholds ACA, Progressives Set Sights on Medicare for All

Now, said campaigner Michael Lighty, "we can instead go to a system that will actually guarantee healthcare to everybody, which the ACA does not do and cannot do."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


McConnell Makes Clear 'All Republicans Will Oppose' Manchin Voting Rights Compromise

"The idea that Manchin can pass a law to protect the vote with help from the very people it needs protecting from is suspect at best."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·