Chile Votes to Rewrite its Pinochet-Era Constitution

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Celebrations broke out across the South American country of Chile after a landslide majority voted in support of rewriting Chile’s constitution.

Seventy-eight percent of Chileans had voted “yes” in a referendum called after mass protests against inequality. The current constitution dates back to the military rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Pinochet was a Chilean general, politician and dictator who ruled the country from 1973 to 1990. He served as the first president of the Military Junta of Chile from 1973 to 1981, before automatically declaring himself the President of the Republic by the junta in 1974.

The constitution was written by Pinochet adviser Jaime Guzmán in 1980 and pushed minimal state intervention, allowing private sectors to control public services.

More than 3,200 people were executed or disappeared during Pinochet’s reign, and tens of thousands more were detained and tortured or exiled.

Chile’s right-wing President Sebastián Piñera agreed that the decades’ old constitution was “divisive” and called for Chileans to “work together so that the new constitution is the great framework of unity, stability and the future.”

He added, “Today citizens and democracy have triumphed, Today unity has prevailed over division and peace over violence. And this is a triumph for all Chileans who love democracy, unity and peace, without a doubt.”

After the vote results were announced, people took to the streets to celebrate the end of the dictatorship-era constitution.

“If it were not for the brave young people who fought for us, no one would have gone out on to the streets. I had wanted this to happen for a long time and it happened and thanks to them, today we have won,” Juan Pablo Naranjo, told Reuters news agency as he rejoiced.

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