The April 2ndConvergence: The fight to rewrite Chile’s constitution

The April 2ndConvergence brought together a number of revolutionary organizations in Chile in 2017 in advance of the explosion of social and class struggle that has rocked the nation since the fall of 2019. Mass strikes, mobilizations, blockades, and especially feminist protests have forced the political powers that be to hold a referendum on April 26 on whether or not to reform the constitution and, if so, how. The April 2ndConvergence statement below represents the radical point of view that constitutional reform should not be left to the current parliamentary parties, rather, the constitution should be rewritten through a directly democratic “constituent process” involving unions, social, indigenous, student, and feminist movements. Originally published by Convergencia Medios, translated and published by No Borders News with permission. 

The popular revolt that began on October 18, 2019 marks the beginning of a new political period. For some time, cracks have been widening between the neoliberal phase of Chilean capitalism – a system of, by, and for the colonial elite’s heirs – and the transitional pact between the governing political parties which have held power since the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship. These strains produced a social explosion last fall, giving way to a crisis of hegemony of whose severity remains uncertain. In this context, the bloc in power has maintained its cohesion and political leadership, even as it shows clear signs of an inability to maintain the neoliberal consensus.

This new period is chiefly characterized by the emergence of the working class and the masses (el pueblo) as a political subject, one which rejects more than thirty years of abuse, of the increasing precariousness of life, of patriarchal violence, of denial of social rights and political exclusion. This new subject has put a program of transformative struggle on the table, one whose democratic and antineoliberal character we must deepen and radicalize. The popular revolt, the result of years of slow accumulation of experience, still lacks a program that might give it a clear political horizon and a political leadership that could guide the energy that has been unleashed.

The response of the ruling class has been to close ranks around the defense of bourgeois democratic institutions. From the most reactionary right-wing forces to the most progressive liberals, the mainstream parties fear the decline of their own power and the constituent potential – the power to remake the social order – of a mobilized people. They have closed ranks around the Peace Agreement, signed on November 15 of last year, which did nothing but provide breathing space for a government up against the ropes. This agreement put the brakes on the uprising’s power and attempted to lay out a road map to survive the approaching political juncture.

We are going through a constituent moment, one punctuated by the plebiscite set for April 26 to vote on reforming the constitution. However, the questions placed on the plebiscite are nothing but an expression of an Agreement between powerful, its form denies the people to choice to endow themselves with a free and sovereign, a plurinational and feminist Constituent Assembly Feminist, instead restricting the April 26 vote to support or opposition to a constitutional convention that puts obvious limits on the depth of the transformations in progress.

We do not accept this agreement as the limits of the possible. We aim to deepen the crisis that threatens the powerful and advocate the construction of a social and political force that allows the people to create and win a program of deep and radical transformations. That is how we understand the constituent process in progress. The Constituent Assembly is not an objective in itself, but a framework in which we may strengthen the elements unleashed by the popular revolt of October 18.

Our struggle is for a free and sovereign, plurinational and feminist Constituent Assembly. At the same time, we emphatically support the platform of struggle raised by the popular movement, one which vigorously denounces the impunity, the violation of human rights, and the political and sexual violence unleashed by this criminal government. We call on all the forces of the rebel left and the people as a whole to concentrate their efforts on stoking social conflict, promoting popular protest, and raising the people’s demands. The April 2ndConvergence will put all its efforts towards these ends.

In this fight, the road map established by the feminist movement is fundamental. Thus, the first week of March is key and should be marked by a process of spreading popular mobilization, culminating in a enormous demonstration of strength on March 8 and with a Feminist General Strike on March 9, placing the program elaborated by the Second Plurinational Meeting of Struggle on the movement’s banners. Next, we must attempt to sustain the pace of mobilization so as to weaken the forces behind the Peace Agreement while fighting to win real gains for the working people.

Simultaneously, we believe it is essential to organize encounters in which we can share our experiences, such as the National Meeting of Territorial Assemblies, a National Congress of Workers, the continuity of the Plurinational Meeting of Struggle, and other processes that might feed into a great Popular Constituent Assembly. Only such an assembly can point to the programmatic horizon of the ongoing popular movement, both to guide the struggle for popular demands and to guide popular participation in the institutional constitutional processes themselves.

We state that our central focus will be the fight for a real Constituent Assembly, one that is free and sovereign, plurinational and feminist, however, we understand that the April 26 plebiscite holds open the possibility of maintaining and deepening the constituent conjuncture for further movement forward towards that goal. Therefore, we call for a yes vote to approve a new constitution and a yes vote for the formation of a Constitutional Convention. We will participate in and fight alongside the people in any political space in which they enter into a struggle, always putting forward the political program being developed by the working class alongside our final goals: the radical transformation of this miserable reality and for the conquest of dignity in a classless society, free from all oppression.



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