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New Constitutional Council
Jan. 9, 2023
Chilean political parties agreed, in mid-December, on a process to draft a new constitutional rewrite proposal: a constitutional council of 50 directly elected officials (dubbed constitutional advisors) and a commission of 24 experts appointed by Congress.
The process will be markedly faster than the previous Constitutional Convention: the experts will start work this month, the council will be elected in April and have five months to work, and the final plebiscite to ratify or reject the proposal will be in November, 2023. (El País, Bloomberg, Reuters)
The agreement, which took weeks of wrangling among Chilean political parties, is a victory for President Gabriel Boric, who had pushed for an elected, rather than designated council. But the design of the process, which gives experts the job of putting together an initial proposal, and then editing the constitution drafted by the council, reflects the will of right-wing parties that seek to avoid a refoundational document, reports El País.
While Boric hailed the agreement as a compromise, the deal risks maintaining Chile’s status quo, with a veneer of reform, warns Yasna Mussa in a Post Opinión piece. “Suddenly, it seems that Chile went back to sleep to wake up to the reality that confuses us with the politics of the 1990s, full of mediocre pacts because we were just getting used to democracy again.”
Chile’s new plan for a constitutional assembly gives the Boric administration a way forward for a new magna carta — albeit a less ambitious one than the draft rejected by voters last year — but also permits the government space to advance on other legislative agenda items, argues Claudia Heiss in NUSO.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric announced a $2 billion social spending package, aimed at helping Chilean families face rapidly rising living costs. It includes a doubling in Chile’s annual payment to poor and middle-class families, as well as increases to cash transfers for parents, and discounts on food, price reductions for medications, subsidies aimed at job creation, among others. (Bloomberg, El Mostrador, CNN)
Boric’s New Year’s pardon of a member of a rebel group convicted of robbing a bank in 2013 has caused tensions with the country’s Supreme Court. Boric said he was convinced, after conversations with jurists, that the process against Jorge Mateluna was flawed — to which the court responded that the president was usurping judicial functions. (El País, Radio Chile)
Boric also pardoned a dozen people convicted in connection with widespread 2019 social protests. (Reuters)
Chile’s justice minister, Marcela Ríos, resigned on Saturday, in response to accusations of wrongdoing over the pardons given to people connected to the 2019 protests. She will be replaced by lawyer Luis Cordero Vega. (Reuters)
However the General Government Secretary, Camila Vallejo, said there was no chance of revoking the pardons, though she said if the President had had more information, “the situation would have been different.” (CNN)
A Chilean congressional committee approved a controversial mining royalty bill, that would increase royalties on copper sales in the country, as part of the government's sweeping tax reform, reports Reuters.
Chile’s rejected constitution missed a historic opportunity to defend migrant rights, argues Pablo Seward Delaporte in Nacla.