Chile's lawmakers on early Friday agreed to hold a referendum next April on replacing the constitution drafted by Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship (1973-1990), bowing to demands of millions who want the country's social and economic model overhauled.
Chile: Protests Continue For the 28th Day in a Row
"The people have achieved a triumph because we are getting closer to consult about a constituent assembly," Communist Party lawmaker Karol Cariola said and warned that the agreement may contain a trap because economic elites want to "hold on to the ashes of the constitution of Pinochet!"
Chileans will be asked whether they approve the idea of a new constitution and whether current lawmakers should serve on the commission that would redraft the document.
The "Agreement for Peace and a New Constitution," which was signed after midnight following intense negotiations, calls for a "commitment to re-establish peace and public order" in the country.
While such an objective could be achieved, the agreement among political elites occurs after the Chilean population has paid a high cost in suffering.
For almost a month, President Sebastian Piñera has kept the Military Police (Carabineros) on the streets exercising "control activities" that have generated obvious human rights violations, of which there are enough citizen's records captured in videos and photographs.
Until Thursday night, 22 Chileans died, 2,209 citizens were injured and 209 people had eye trauma as a result of police repression, according to data from the National Institute of Human Rights (NHRI).
New political winds are unmasking to the imperialism's lackeys. When people unite, there is no neoliberal barrier to stop them. Chilean brothers, keep your fight and unity for the new constitution. The meme reads, "A blunt general strike showed that popular rebellion continues in Chile. From very early in the morning, there were hundreds of roadblocks, street closures and barricades all over the country."
Though protesters lack a clear leader or spokesperson, a new constitution emerged quickly as an important demand.
As the population has demonstrated with its presence in massive protests, Chile's current constitution, which was written and approved under General Augusto Pinochet's watch, lacks legitimacy.
While civil lawmakers revised the original 1980 document after Chile returned to democracy in 1990, the Carta Magna still fails to ensure for proper health care, education and citizen participation.
Opponents of an overhaul argue that Pinochet's constitution has allowed the formation of a "stable and investor-friendly" economy, which is how the far-right elites describe their neoliberal model.
The details of the legal reform process will be worked out by a constitutional convention whose composition will be determined in the April referendum.
According to the Nov. 15 agreement, a second vote, in October 2020, will allow voters to select those who will finally serve on the convention. Later, a final vote on the draft itself will be obligatory.