(SANTIAGO, Chile.) JUST IN: Citzens are about to vote on on rewriting the their whole constitution and turn it into a ‘ social plan for the country with those remembering and protesting that brought them to this crossroads on Oct.25: Referendum #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Oct.18: Natalia Aravena rushed down a small side street to escape, she recalls. Chile’s police force, the carabineros, were dispersing a protest near Santiago’s presidential palace on Oct. 28 2019, one of hundreds that broke out over inequality and the cost of living in the South American country late last year. As Aravena, a 25 year-old nurse, turned to check she wasn’t being followed, a tear gas canister hit her in the face. Hours later, she lost her right eye:

Chile’s protests have brought the country to a historic crossroads: an Oct. 25 referendum on rewriting the country’s constitution. “I was thinking the other day that in Spanish, when something is really expensive, we say ‘it costs an eye from your face’,” Aravena tells TIME. “It literally cost me that for us to get here.”

The referendum was the main concession politicians made last November as they tried to pacify protesters with an “agreement for peace.” The left argue that the 1980 constitution, written under rightwing dictator Augusto Pinochet, is implicitly designed to protect Chile’s model: minimizing the role of the state, limiting voters’ political choices and making it harder for Chilean governments to expand social welfare or interfere with businesses. It became a major target of protests, which began with teenagers jumping subway turnstiles to protest a small subway fare hike but quickly morphed into a so-called “social explosion”—an all-out rejection of the neoliberal economic model that has made Chile one of the region’s richest countries, but also created spiralling inequality. Aravena was one of more than 400 people who suffered eye injuries as the carabineros violently repressed the protests: I Was Shot and Lost My Sight for Protesting Inequality in Chile. We Need to Keep Demanding Justice

Rewriting the constituion won’t solve all of the country’s problems, Aravena says, but it’s the best chance of turning the energy of the protests into lasting change. Roughly 80% of Chileans plan to vote “Approve”—in favour of a rewrite—according to polls. Even a few prominent figures from the right, such as likely presidential candidate Joaquín Lavín—a former Pinochet ally—have backed “Approve,” rather than “Reject.” But political analysts say that’s where the consensus ends. Some see the referendum as a symbolic opportunity to move on from the dictatorship or tinker with the existing model. Others want a total transformation: ” Chilean neoliberalism isn’t just an economic policy. It’s become a way of conceiving life itself: social relations, cities, democracy, society, and the economy,” says young politician Jorge Sharp. He won a shock victory in 2016 to become mayor of Valparaiso, a coastal city two hours from Santiago, on a leftist platform. The 35-year-old is now one of the most prominent progressive voices in Chile. “Rewriting the constitution is our chance to lay the foundations of a new society, a new state and a new country.”

#AceNewsDesk report ………………….Published: Oct.18: 2020:

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