Former member of the Constitutional Convention Carlos Calvo acknowledges an “imperfect” final text, but one that still qualifies as good for the country’s future. He reflects on the people’s expectations for the process and its result. Calvo also explains why he will be voting Apruebo.
How do you feel about the Convention’s work this past year?
I think that it was a complex job, as every human job. Sometimes it was hard, but also very luminous. Gradually, it yielded results and it ended with a final text that enchants me.
Is there anything missing?
A lot. I don’t know where the idea of perfection came from. There doesn’t exist any human activity that is perfect, so I don’t understand the people that criticize the new Constitution for not being perfect. Former President Michelle Bachelet said it very well. It is imperfect, it has a lot of flaws, but the ensemble is good. And it was done with a diversity of viewpoints never seen before in the history of Chile. [The Convention] included so many different people, with a variety of life experiences and educations. For me, this is a Constitution of hope.
Thinking about the diversity of the Convention’s members, was it difficult to reach agreements?
It was more speeches than a dialogue because dialogue is not established in Chilean culture. That’s why it was an imperfect process, but it nevertheless resulted in clear proposals, and the interchange of opinions wasn’t more difficult than in any other situation from everyday life. It is something that happens in the Congress, student councils, trade unions, etc., where someone takes the microphone and speaks, and the others act like they are listening. But they were also approaching. As I said in my last speech in the Convention, it was wonderful that despite all of this, we reached a good agreement.
You participated in the Knowledge Systems, Culture, Science, Technology, Arts, and Patrimony Commission. What were its achievements?
We were called the “Future Commission.” We established that there are multiple knowledge systems, not just one. We opened the door to other ways of knowing that are as valid as scientific occidental knowledge. We had written that there are different cultural expressions, that there is a need to protect the patrimony, which is what gave us diversity. We worked for science to be in all levels of education, and I pushed for it to be at the preschool level.
Do you believe that this final text accomplishes the desires and expectations of Chilean society?
Every person has different expectations, but, as an educator who spends a lot of time in different communities, I think we captured the feelings of the people. They felt unprotected and were closing themselves off. This constitutional proposal aims to take back the communities so we can live in the neighborhood and not hide in our houses. I feel like every person can cite unsatisfactory aspects of the final text, and that is obvious, because the magna carta is magna, meaning general. It is not specific. The laws will be in charge, we just put the frame.
What would you say to the citizens ahead of the Sept. 4 election?
I would say they should read it and reflect on what it says with others. The first article says: Chile is a social and democratic state of rights. What does this mean? Let’s talk about it. And in that conversation, the person will deduce, as I did, that the best option is to approve this Constitution. And reviewing the rest of the text in general, they will think “this is good for us” – for them as individuals and as members of a collective. We are setting the foundations for a new society. We didn’t pretend to correct the current Constitution, but to create a new one. Some want to reform it on day one, but they don’t even know it. In the process we will review its potential.
Catalina Vergara is graduated in Social Communications from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She has previously worked on Strategic Communications.