Chilean Constitutional Congress Candidates

A story in English with details you’ll only find on Fake Flamenco!

Chileans voted in October 2020 to form a Constitutional Congress and write a new constitution, as you read here. The deadline for potential representatives to declare candidacy was Monday, January 11. An astounding 3,399 people answered the call; including both independents and political party candidates, and at least 180 indigenous candidates. The Chilean Election Service is reviewing the applications, will notify the candidates within ten days, and publish a list by 23 January. On April 11, 14 million Chileans are scheduled to vote to narrow the number of candidates down from over 3000 to 155. That sounds like a difficult task to accomplish, without primaries.

The Chilean Congress determined that half the representatives for the Constitutional Congress would be women and half of them men. (77 1/2 each?) They also voted in December 2020 that at least 17 positions are reserved for members of indigenous nations, who are 12.8% of the population. The division is as follows: seven Mapuche representatives, two Aymara, one each for Rapanuí, Quechua, Atacameños, Diaguitas, Collas, Kawéskar, Yaganes and Changos. However, no places were reserved for Chileans of African descent. According to the available information, Afro-Chileans are 3-6% of the population, which would accord them at least 4-5 representatives of the 155. But Congress did not recognize them.

The members of the Constitutional Congress will begin work on the historic document one to three months after their election. They will meet in an official location called the Palacio Pereira. I remember the building well, not for its beauty, but as a sad ruin. When we lived in Chile, every weekend I would take the bus to visit writer friends. The bus would pass the empty Palacio that looked abandoned and I would wonder why such a beautiful façade held nothing inside. The building was an apt metaphor for Chilean democracy. No more, both are in restoration.

Palacio Pereira of the Past Photo: José Alberto Urbina Ramírez

The Constitutional Congress will have 9 months, with a possible 3 month extension to write the new constitution and get it ratified by 2/3 of the representatives. In 2022, Chileans will vote whether or not they approve of their new Magna Carta. That will be a momentous day!

Palacio Pereira 2021 Photo: DelRoble Caleu

As Soledad Buendía Herdoíza, Assembly Member for the Provence of Pichincha in the National Assembly of Ecuador said in her article about Chile:

“El nuevo camino democrático que inicia Chile es un gran reto y una gran oportunidad para la construcción de una sociedad más justa, equitativa, igualitaria, inclusiva y libre de violencia.”

“The new democratic path that Chile begins is a great challenge and a great opportunity to build a society that is more just, equitable, egalitarian, inclusive and free of violence.” (my translation -RC)

This tremendous progress for human rights in the form of a new constitution has bolstered my hope for Chile, and hope for democracy.

Which ideas and ideals are the most important to include in a democratic constitution, in your opinion? Please join the dialogue in the comments below.

¡Viva Chile! ¡Olé! –Rebecca

Chilean Flag. Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Rebecca Cuningham

18 thoughts on “Chilean Constitutional Congress Candidates

    1. My hats off to the Chilean people and how they have handled themselves in their struggle for democracy. They also seem not to be worried about “big brother” telling them to wear masks and social distance like a certain other country, when they voted. I guess living under a man like Pinochet changes your perspective on things.

      I pray people wake up here and realize what we have to lose if we keep to this path we are on.

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  1. Very interesting news. I am really impressed they specifically kept positions open for their indigenous population. It makes one wonder what would happen here if we did that? As far as I know we only have one member of the House (from New Mexico) who is native American? I could be wrong about that – fact check me when you can. My point is, we just don’t have the inclination to make public statements or take public actions to be inclusive of all of our cultures. Four hundred years of denying they exist or marginalizing them when we do recognize them, seems long enough and then some, for people to be treated as full citizens. My hat’s off to Chile.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Larry. You brought up important issues. Native American Indians were not allowed to vote in the US until 1924 or later, depending on which state the person lived in. Currently there are the most representatives in Congress from Indian Nations, five in the House of Representatives; two from the Cherokee Nation, one from the Chickasaw Nation, one from the Ho-Chunk Nation and one from the Pueblo of Laguna. For Indian People to be represented according to their percentage of the population, there would need to be 8. We are getting closer to more equal representation, but I believe it is the tribes themselves who are making that possible supporting the education of their young people. Thanks for your interest in Chile!

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  2. Great post! It’s hard to put into words what this really means for the Chilean people. As you know even more than I do, the coup in 1973 and the dictatorship that followed left a dark legacy akin to Peron in neighboring Argentina. I really do hope that for Chile, this is a change in course with a new future that can remove some of the stains from the past. Time will surely tell. And those who died in the government’s right-wing purges will not have perished in vain. I’m sure that if he were alive today, Victor Jara would be amazed at what his fellow citizens are doing.

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    1. Thank you for your knowledge of and concern for for the Chilean people’s long term quest to peaceably restore democracy. April’s vote will be an amazing next step. I think you are right that Victor Jara would be proud of his compatriots bravery and accomplishments. Muchas gracias, Rebecca

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