Chile to amend constitution, a key demand of protesters

Source:AFP Published: 2019/11/11 22:58:41

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera (center) announces at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile on Wednesday that Chile has withdrawn as host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Forum in November and the Climate Change COP25 Conference in December after several weeks of violent protests. The APEC summit was scheduled to bring together 20 world leaders from November 16 to 17. The COP25 program was due to run between December 2 and December 13. "This has been a very difficult decision, a decision that causes us a lot of pain, because we fully understand the importance of APEC and COP25 for Chile and for the world," Pinera said, according to Reuters. Photo: AP

Chile has announced it will move to draft a new constitution and replace one dating back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship - a key demand of protesters who have rocked the country for three weeks.

The new constitution will be drafted by a body called a constituent assembly and then put to a referendum for ratification, Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel said Sunday.

Blumel made the announcement after meeting a coalition of center-right and right-wing parties, which until now had been the most reluctant to change the constitution inherited from the era of the US-backed general Pinochet, from 1973 to 1990.

The government was in the process of preparing "a draft amendment of the constitution," President Sebastian Pinera said in an interview published Saturday by the daily El Mercurio.

Among the proposed changes are "a better definition of ­human rights" and their means of enforcement, plus clarification on "the obligations of the state" and "better mechanisms of participation" for citizens, added the president.

The current constitution, in force since 1980, has already undergone more than 200 changes in more than 40 articles, Pinera said. But it does not establish the state's responsibility to provide education and healthcare - two demands made by millions of Chileans who have taken to the streets.

A general public sector strike has been called on Monday, in the midst of the biggest crisis since Chile's return to democracy in 1990, which has left 20 dead - five at the hands of state forces - and more than 1,000 injured.

Posted in: AMERICAS

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