On 25th October, the Chilean people voted to rewrite their constitution, which has remained in place since General Augusto Pinochet was in power, following a military coup of elected left wing government in 1973. The people voted Pinochet out in 1989, and he stepped down as president in 1990. The dictatorship constitution remained in place. Mass protests, which took place in 2019 and early 2020, were prompted by a hike in metro fares, and the stark health and income inequalities that exist in probably the richest country in South America. The current right wing President Pinera agreed to a referendum.
Although the protests were mainly peaceful, over thirty people died. This has been a traumatic process for Chile, where right wing politicians are elected into office, and change has been resisted by society’s elite. The courage displayed may seem trivial to people who are unaware of Chile’s history of torture, mass murders and expulsion of any individuals who had any left leaning sympathies, during the seventies. Britain accepted Chilean political refugees, and our culture is richer for having done so. Hopefully this is the start of a new golden era for the people of Chile.