More than 60 percent of Chileans voted against the proposal, which its supporters call feminist and progressive.
Lorena Donaire woke up on Sunday morning in her hometown La Ligua, in central Chile, with tears of joy. Confident that her country would vote to approve the proposal for a new constitution, she had planned to celebrate a new chapter in Chilean history which placed the environment as a key priority.
Donaire, 50, grew up in the drought-stricken zone Petorca, where La Ligua is situated. An environmental rights activist and spokeswoman for water rights group Modatima, the approval of the proposal meant the realisation of the rights she had fought for her entire life.
Several of her Modatima colleagues were elected to write the draft, enshrining landmark environmental protections and consecrating water as a fundamental right.
But when the results came in, her tears of joy turned to those of heartbreak. A majority 61.9 percent of Chileans voted against the text, firmly rejecting the ambitions of a proposal that dubbed itself feminist, ecological and groundbreakingly progressive.
Donaire told Al Jazeera that she feels “abandoned and very sad”, but will not lose hope. “We will continue to fight for the little water Chile has left.”
Demands for a new constitution arose during nationwide protests in October 2019, when millions of Chileans took to the streets to march against the rising costs of living, their anger directed towards an out-of-touch political elite.
The ruling constitution, written in 1980 during the dictatorship of conservative President Augusto Pinochet, was singled out as the root cause of the country’s gaping inequality and lack of social welfare. Many protesters, including Donaire, argued that Pinochet’s text gives private companies disproportionate power over civil and environmental rights.
In October 2020, Chileans voted by a landslide 79 percent to replace the 1980 charter and draft a new text written by 154 popularly-elected candidates. In May 2021, a largely independent and left-wing assembly was chosen to begin the drafting.
Source : Aljazeera