SANTIAGO – Apr. 26 is set to be a historic date for Chile: in a referendum, the country will decide whether to create a new constitution or maintain the current one. To explore Chileans’ priorities, Chile Today will be interviewing one voter every week. In our fourth Chile Tomorrow: Gonzalo Henríquez, who does not believe that most problems will be fixed with a new Constitution.
My name is Gonzalo Henríquez, and I run my own business, Wiz Communications, as well as work as a CTO at Keteka. I believe that everyone has a democratic right to express their views and speak out publicly, but I do not agree with the violence of the protests over the last four months.
In my opinion, protests are not the most effective way to achieve political action. While it is true that some changes have occurred as a result of the recent protests, such as the plebiscite vote itself, Chileans need to seek political change through the established channels. Our politicians are elected to represent us and to work on our behalf in government, and so citizens should engage with the traditional electoral system and choose a candidate whom they trust to represent them in Congress. However, the lack of civic education and communication between the people and politicians means that many Chileans feel distanced from the government and do not trust them to bring about the changes they seek.
For part III of Chile Tomorrow, click here:
I agree that our Constitution has issues that need to be resolved, but I do not believe that these problems will be fixed with a new Constitution. For this reason, I will be voting Rechazo (“Reject”) on Apr. 26. The protests have focused on the issues with our health, education, and pension system, but these were not created by the Constitution. Similarly, an Apruebo (“Approve”) victory would negatively affect our economy—it already has been affected by the economic uncertainty of Chile’s future —and this would only further harm those who are already experiencing economic difficulties.
The political change that the protesters are seeking can only effectively be achieved through the traditional methods, as what is needed are long-term solutions to the issues within our Constitution. Yet the protesters want change now. The government needs time to make amendments to the Constitution to improve pensions, health, and education in Chile for our future generations.
The truth is that politicians want to be reelected, and so they will listen to the people to bring about some immediate change and reassure their voters. The plebiscite is an example of this, yet perhaps it was a rash decision. I fear that the protests will continue to become more violent as the vote approaches, and who can say what will happen afterward. If the Rechazo were to win, who’s to say that the opposition would not reject the result and the situation would only continue to escalate. It is a very uncertain time to be living in Chile.
For part II of Chile Tomorrow, click here:
Katie is a student from Exeter University where she is studying English Literature and Spanish. This year she is interning with Chile Today as part of her year abroad in Latin America. She believes in the importance of a global newsroom which spreads the news of the world to every corner and gives voice to the people.