President Gabriel Boric greets Interim President Miguel Littin during the Installation Ceremony of the Constitutional Council at the Congress Headquarters in Santiago, Chile.Sofía Yanjarí
The differences between the first and second Chilean processes to bury the Constitution inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet became exaggeratedly evident this Wednesday at the headquarters of the Congress of Santiago. The contrasts were seen in form and substance. The 2021 ceremony, when the Constitutional Convention took office, started amid great citizen expectation impregnated with epic, symbolism and protests. The frenzy of that opening ceremony had moments of high tension: the authorities were forced to temporarily suspend it after a group of constituents interrupted the singing of the national anthem claiming that the police were repressing the demonstrators who were outside the enclosure. This morning, however, with almost no audience outside, the ceremony passed expeditiously, soberly and without unleashing passions.
The 50 members of the Constitutional Council arrived early in formal dress – most of them wearing ties; They brought two pieces – with an attitude similar to that of someone who enters a new job and does not want to be noticed too much so as not to make mistakes. Even the first applause was timid. The relaxation came from the members of the Expert Commission, who for almost three months drafted the draft that will serve as the basis for the constituents: they embraced each other with affection, took selfies and laughed carefreely, with the freedom of those who dispatch an enormous task. In any case, the group will continue to be linked to the process, but only with the right to a voice, although with a very influential voice.
President Beatriz Hevia with Carlos Recordo at the Constitutional Council Installation CeremonyCristobal Venegas
Unlike the opening ceremony on July 4, 2021, where there were no government authorities, President Gabriel Boric participated in the event, with a moderate and convening speech in which he urged the constituents to seek agreements. The quota of emotionality was put by the filmmaker Miguel Littin, who for being the oldest counselor (80 years) provisionally presided over the organ. The socialist representative broke formality by raising his arm "for peace and harmony." "At the time of swearing, let's think about Chile. Think of women, men, peasants, workers, the middle class. In the people who trusted us," he said. And he recalled the words he heard on the street: "Write a Constitution that loves you, makes you mine and defends you. And that it serves as a navigation chart towards the future". At the end, representatives of all political colors rose to applaud him.
The box on the second floor was reserved for the guests of the councillors. On the Republican side, two women with blue anti-abortion scarves tied to their fists showed one of them to the chamber with a slogan that read: "Let's save both lives," in reference to the life of the mother and child. Three representatives of the conservative formation, including constitutional lawyer Luis Silva, took out their mobiles to take photos.
One of the main contrasts with the first experience is the leader of the organ. The first elected as president an indigenous Mapuche, Dr. and academic Elisa Loncon, 58, born in a humble community of La Araucanía. He won office after two rounds of voting, with the support of indigenous constituents, left-wing parties and anti-establishment capitalist independents. They were the vast majority. In his speech, Loncon said that the text they would draft "would transform Chile into a plurinational, intercultural country." On this occasion, the immediate triumph was of Beatriz Hevia, a 30-year-old lawyer, representative of the Republican Party, of the extreme right, the main political force of the Council. Hevia, daughter of the former director of the Agricultural and Livestock Society of Osorno, in the cattle area of southern Chile, called for dialogue and warned that the country is experiencing a deep moral, economic, political and social crisis.
The new president of the Constituent Council, Beatriz Hevia (center), during the ceremony. Sofia Yanjarí
In the first attempt, the body was composed of 155 members, most of them independent outside the political world with trajectories marked by social and identity causes. In addition, 17 seats were reserved for the 10 First Nations. Everyone sat at the table to discuss a blank sheet. After the failure of their proposal, rejected by 62% of Chileans last September, the parliamentarians defined a series of legal frameworks and gave little space to the entry of foreigners from politics. The Constituent Council is composed mostly of militants and only one representative was elected by the lists of the native peoples. The new rules gave the tenor of the conventional ceremony.
If in the marathon opening ceremony of the first process in 2021 left scenes of demonstrators throwing stones outside the Congress, attacks on constituents in the street, feminists delivering their proposals to the leaders of the convention and several historical demands of the conventional ones at the time of assuming and voting, this Wednesday 7 barely made noise. The most disruptive of the day was seen at the time of assuming the positions, when a few counselors added for whom or what they accepted. The strongest came from Republican Hector Urban, a farmer who was the victim of attacks: "For the victims of rural violence in the southern macrozone, I accept." Others mentioned the territories that voted them and one or another God.
Constitutional Council Installation CeremonyCristobal Venegas
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