Let’s rewind the tape: Chile’s 2022

This year is almost in the history books, and it’s certainly one Chileans will remember. The “old” “new” Constitution went down in flames, many acres went up in flames, and various political chasms only became broader and deeper. Following are 12 months’ highlights, including this month’s news that a “new” “new” Constitution is on the way.

January: a new board of directors for the Constitutional Convention

The Constitutional Convention welcomed the new year by electing its new board of directors after two days of deliberations. María Elisa Quinteros was elected as the new president, and Gaspar Domínguez as the new vice president. 

Meanwhile, as the New York Times reported, the process of rewriting the constitution continued, amid environmental and health concerns.

February: A fiery end to summer

February closed on a down note. Devastating wildfires razed Chile’s Tierra del Fuego, threatening crucial global ecosystems and the ancestral lands of the indigenous Selk’nam population. The Selk’nam Community Organization in Chile (COVADONGA ONA) issued an urgent call for assistance. The fires burned through more than 250 hectares of woodland, destroyed large areas of local peatlands, and threatened the Karukinka Natural Park. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 also sparked political debates in Chile and indirectly triggered the country’s foreign policy, in general, and engagement with China, in particular.

March: Time to hear women’s voices

Santiago woke up on March 8 to the sound of deep drum beats keeping rhythm with the heart of Día de la Mujer’s march. Encapuchados cast stones into the crowd, but participants continued marching,  and no riots broke out. 

A week after the march, Chile’s Constitutional Convention approved an article on the right to abortion, a matter of central importance to most of the march’s participants. Activists and constituents hailed the step as a crucial advance. 

Other proposals were also directly accepted with a two-thirds majority, but some still had to be reviewed and rewritten. 

Women’s organizations kick off Super Feminist Monday

April: Chile and Bolivia head to the ICJ over the Silala River

Chile and Bolivia once again faced off in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague to litigate their dispute over the Silala River. Chile claimed that the river was international and flowed naturally through its territory, while Bolivia argued that it was artificially diverted and therefore belonged to it. The ICJ later issued its decision on December 1, 2022, saying that the two countries appeared to be in agreement about the river’s status as “an international watercourse”, subject to international law.

May: a new low for journalistic freedom in Chile

On May 1, Labor Day, a reporter for local radio station Señal 3 La Victoria was severely injured. She was shot in the head while covering a march near Estación Central. Three others were injured during clashes between protesters and street vendors. 

The World Press Freedom Index asserted, “investigative journalism is losing ground and attacks on reporters are on the rise.” The index analyzes “the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists and the media ”within their respective nations, and this year, Chile ranks 82nd, a new low for the nation.” 

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Convention finished its first draft of Chile’s proposed new Constitution on May 14. Chileans then got to see what their new Magna Carta might look like. 

June: Sports advocates for climate change

Chile celebrated Barbara Hernandez, a Chilean swimmer known as the “ice mermaid,” achieving two world records for swimming across the icy Drake Passage. She dedicated her records to raising awareness for climate change. This achievement came two years after she was recognized as Woman of the Year by the World Open Water Swimming Association. 

July: Proposed new Constitution presented to the public

Chile’s Constitutional Convention wrapped up its final draft of the proposed new Constitution which was presented to the public during a ceremony on July 4. Delegates shared their joy as the drafting came to an end. After the publication of the final draft, Amnesty International launched a campaign in favor of the new Constitution. The NGO said the proposed Magna Carta would help fight inequality. Specifically, Amnesty highlighted stronger protections for minorities.

August: Rough time for Mapuche Community

Coordinadora Arauco Malleco leader Héctor Llaitul was arrested on Aug. 24. Chile’s Investigations Police accomplished the arrest in Cañete, Biobío region. Llaitul was then moved to the La Araucanía region by helicopter.

September: Chile rejects the new Constitution

Chile’s new proposed Constitution was rejected on September 4. Most polls ahead of the vote put the Rechazo option in the lead, but in the end, it was a blowout. Most voters did not like the text drafted by the Constitutional Convention. 

Thereafter, student protesters converged on Santiago Centro, primarily asking for improvements in education. Other groups then joined the march to register their discontent with the referendum’s outcome. 

A day later, metro evasions by students resumed. 

Several party leaders and government representatives met after the Rechazo to discuss a path toward a new Constitution. While some said an agreement had been reached, others denied any progress. Right-wing parties threatened to abandon the process altogether.

Why did the proposed new constitution go down in flames?

October: Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement creates a political chasm in Chile

Despite opposition from civil society organizations, Chile’s Senate ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. Controversy surrounds the treaty, as some claim it will empower multinational corporations, while others highlight easier market access for Chilean firms.

November: truck driver protests resume

Truck drivers blocked Chilean highways all over the country, demanding lower fuel prices and stepped up security along routes. As supply chains were disrupted and shortages started to appear in some areas, negotiations continued and the government ultimately agreed to reduce diesel prices, but the leader of the northern truckers’ organization, Fuerza del Norte, vowed to press on.

December: A new path is cleared for another new Constitution

December brought forward-looking news. After nearly 100 days of talks between political parties, an agreement was signed on Dec. 8, confirming that Chile will enter a new Constitutional process, with elections and a drafting body. However, this new body will be completely different from the previous one.

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