Former member of the Constitutional Convention Carolina Videla, who’s part of the Communist Party, evaluates the job done by the convention. In this interview, she also talks about the process and her participation in the fundamental rights commission. And Videla explains her vote in the Sept. 4 plebiscite.
Has the Constitutional Convention done a great job?
It was an intense job, without rest, but in an absolutely responsible way. It required a lot of study, because a constitution is made up of many topics, and we didn’t have a lot of time – nine months plus the additional three. But we did it well, and we fulfilled what we were asked for. On July 4, the country received a constitutional proposal that will allow choosing the best option. Obviously, it was a work with lots of bumps in the road. Never in this country’s history has a Constitution been built in this way, so we left a legacy of a constitutional culture that didn’t exist in Chile.
How was the dialog between the different political groups during this process?
It was complex in the way that there was a sector, which was for the Rechazo [reject] option in the first plebiscite, that from the first day acted as an opposition to dialog. Despite this, we were able to talk with the different members that formed the Constitutional Convention. It was a very diverse group; there were people from political parties, independents, and from social movements. With divergent postures, we managed to make agreements to build this text.
Do you think the final text satisfies the social demands?
I believe that the demands society has put on the national agenda are reflected in the articles of the new Constitution. We must look at this proposal as one that enables social rights, State duties, and allows us to walk towards a Chile with dignity, social justice, regional autonomy and citizen participation. I think that the 388 articles and the 57 transitional arrangements respond to what the Chilean people are demanding.
What’s the most remarkable thing in the proposal?
In my opinion, one of the biggest achievements of this constitutional text is that it establishes a social democratic multinational, multicultural, regional, and ecological State. From the first article, the other ones that make this Constitution one for the future, emerge. It opens the way to be a diverse Chile, in which no one should be left behind. This proposal guarantees rights for all people.
You were part of the Convention’s fundamental rights commission. Are you satisfied with the results of that task?
The final report about truth, justice and reparation was the most important thing we did, bearing in mind that this country is covered in impunity [to a degree] that’s not sustainable anymore. In this final text, the rights of elderly, people with disabilities, children and adolescents, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and indigenous people are assured. This delivers a big possibility to move forward to an integral development that will not only be sustained by the economy, but also by the ability to build a more caring and respectful society.
What’s the best option in the Sept. 4 plebiscite?
For me, the option of approving this constitutional proposal is the best one. First, because of everything I have said in this interview in regards to this being the first Constitution done in a democratic way. Second, because it changes the logic of [social rights as] consumer goods to one of social rights guaranteed by the State. This will lead us to create a fairer and more dignified country. I believe that this is an option we can’t afford to lose.
Catalina Vergara is graduated in Social Communications from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She has previously worked on Strategic Communications.