RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The electoral authorities of Chile resumed this Sunday the inaugural session of the constitutional convention that kicks off the drafting of the new Magna Carta after abruptly pausing the meeting for almost an hour due to the irruption of a group of constituents.
“We resume the session following the supreme decree. This is the first session in which the constitutional convention in charge of drafting a new Constitution for Chile is installed,” said the rapporteur of the Electoral Tribunal, Carmen Gloria Valladares.
Shouting “No more repression”, a group of constituents linked to the 2019 social protests interrupted the start of the event, the first official meeting among the 155 drafters, demanding the cessation of “police repression” against a group of protesters outside the old National Congress building in Santiago, where the convention is being held.
The meeting, which was greeted with great expectation in the country, was stopped for almost an hour; afterwards, several constituents who had withdrawn returned to their places, and the session was resumed in which they took their oaths of office.
“This is a democratic act; we cannot be inside if outside they are repressing, we have to have a broad democratic and participatory look, without special forces or repression”, said Elisa Loncón, an indigenous leader who seems to be a leader of that group, during the recess.
The day began with massive peaceful marches by different groups of constituents and supporters. Still, there were also some disturbances at points near the former seat of Congress, which prompted the police to act.
Some elected constituents asked for the withdrawal of the Special Police Forces and denounced that there was repression, saying that some of them were even assaulted by the agents.
“This was a disgrace; it shows that there are people who only know how to make a spectacle, and it exceeded all limits of what is acceptable”, added Teresa Marinovich, one of the 37 right-wing pro-government constituents, regarding the attitude taken by some of her peers from progressive and independent forces.
Finally, after the situation outside was partially calmed down and after the electoral authority verified that there were no injuries or arrests, as reported, the ceremony resumed.
The constituent process was born in 2019 as an agreement between political parties to defuse the biggest social crisis in three decades of democracy, which erupted in October of that year with massive marches for a fairer socio-economic model and left at least thirty dead and thousands injured.
The election of the entity’s presidency, the main task of this first session, involves a tug of war between the different forces of the convention, composed mostly by independent citizens (48 of the 155 candidates), most of them of progressive tendency. The right-wing, meanwhile, obtained only 37 seats.
The convention, composed of 155 people chosen on a gender equality basis, and with 17 representatives of indigenous peoples, must elect its board of officers and, from there, will have up to one year to draft the first Chilean Constitution to have originated in a fully democratic process.
To be endorsed in another plebiscite in 2022, the new text will replace the current one, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and criticized by many for its neoliberal nature.