Chile’s Constitutional Convention Advances to the Plenary

The beginning of the end of the so-called Portaliano state

By Andres Kogan Valderrama*

HAVANA TIMES – Voting has begun in the plenary sessions of the Constitutional Convention to approve different articles for the new Magna Carta, a historic milestone for democracy in Chile. It gives great hope in the construction of a very different State from the one imposed on us from the early 19th century onwards.

The general approval of articles with large majorities (2/3 of the votes is required), as is the case of legal pluralism, parity, and a gender approach in the jurisdictional function and a regional, pluractional and intercultural State, is a true nightmare for the conservative world in Chile. It also can be seen as the beginning of the end of what is known as the Portaliano State.

Although much has been said in the constituent discussion about the end of the Pinochet constitution of 1980 and its imposition of the subsidiary and neoliberal State, the colonial, patriarchal and capitalist bases of the institutional structure of Chile were imposed long before, with the so-called Portaliano night since the constitution of 1833.

That is why the approval of these types of articles have to do with the end of a civilizing project of death. One that promoted a monocultural, extractive, presidential and fiercely centralist nation-state, which sought to homogenize all those who lived in this long territory, through a completely exclusive idea of  being ​​Chilean.

The figure of Diego Portales, being the founder of the authoritarian state of Chile, was perhaps the public figure who has done the most damage to the country’s democracy, by building an institutional framework subordinated to the economic powers of mining and landowners and guarded by the armed forces and the Catholic Church, after the oligarchic civil war of 1829 between pipiolos and pelucones.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that Portales was the one who inspired, through the 1833 constitution, both the subsequent Pacification of Araucanía (conquest of Wallmapu) and the War of the Pacific (against Peru and Bolivia for control of saltpeter), which were only the consequence of the formation of a racist, expansionist and anti-democratic Chilean state.

A type of Portaliano state, which despite being reformed with the constitutions of 1925 and 1980, only maintained and even deepened, in the case of the dictatorship, a fundamental charter made by and for a small group of privileged and enlightened people, who believed they had the right to define the destiny of the country.

For that reason, what is being defined in the Constitutional Convention is so relevant for the future of Chile and could mark a break with a long period of time. The idea generates real terror for the current Portaliano sectors, represented by the political and economic right-wing in the country.

After seeing how the country that they appropriated for centuries is being transformed into something much more democratic, does nothing but irritate them so much that even a group of right-wing constituent members has raised the idea of ​​stopping to attend the Convention.

Hence, they put forward completely delusional ideas about the Convention. They accuse it of being a Marxist, indigenist and separatist body, which only seeks to divide Chileans, give privileges to indigenous peoples, put an end to equality before the law and be part of a macabre plan to destroy the country.

It doesn’t matter that liberal countries that they themselves admire, such as Canada or New Zealand, have legal pluralism, or that Spain and Italy are regional states. For them the approval of these articles will make us the Venezuela of Maduro.

For they who see themselves as the owners of reason, the entire constitutional process in Chile has been engineered by an extreme left, with external financing, which has deceived an ignorant people, dominated by the emotional.

Lastly, this right in ruins has no choice but to victimize itself in the current context, being an ideological minority in the Convention. It keeps repeating the same line of Diego Portales, of contempt for politicians, since what they have always wanted it is to have a dictator who takes care of their businesses and allows them to continue perpetuating the concentration of power.


*Andres Kogan Valderrama is a Chilean sociologist

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