SANTIAGO – Former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos on Wednesday launched a Web site with an eye toward encouraging public input for reforming the constitution that dictator Augusto Pinochet imposed on the country in 1980.
The new Web site – nuestraconstitucion.cl, which sets out a plan for reforming the nature of the state, including the scope of the Constitution, the role of the state and the processes of government – is an independent project to pressure the national government via other forms of participation such as community and regional councils.
Lagos said that “a great effort has been made to listen to the people. This is a mark of the convergence of intentions to heed the citizenry. That is positive.”
“It’s one thing for there to be dissatisfaction among the public, but this is a country whose institutions work,” said Lagos, who governed from 2000-2006, adding that “we can give ourselves the luxury of creating a constitution under more normal conditions.”
The project – in which to date more than 6,500 people have participated, registering more than 700 proposals – comes along with Santiago’s “A Constitution for Chile” initiative, which the government has been pushing since last October with the aim of presenting a bill in Congress in the second half of 2017.
Since 1980, the constitution drafted and imposed by Pinochet has only been reformed in minor ways, and this during the Lagos administration.
Pinochet submitted the text of the newly drafted constitution for consideration to the public in a national plebiscite in 1980, and it was approved, although the referendum’s validity was called into question due to irregularities, given that no electoral roles existed and the opposition could not campaign against it.