In the last years, Chile was largely thought of as one of the most democratic and safe countries of the entire Latin American region. These important considerations had both been proven empirically and by research. Therefore, it was commonly understood that Chile had reached a sort of democratic stability and would no longer subjected to extreme changes.
However, what happened approximately one year ago is common knowledge: Chile was overcome by an overwhelming wave of violent protests. These circumstances immediately provoked chaos and disruption in society and ultimately led to the end of the country’s democratic project and the worst socio-political crisis since the end of the Chilean military dictatorship in 1990.
The main reasons behind the protests were the fight against injustice and inequality (unfortunately two always flourishing concepts in many Latin American countries, also in systems deemed to be democratically advanced). Nevertheless, these motives alone failed to fully explain the ferocity of the demonstrations as they could not completely answer the question as to what the Chilean people wanted to effectively achieve with these actions.
After many months of violence and suffering, however, it looks like the ultimate goal of the protests is finally clear: Chile is searching for a complete separation from its difficult, dictatorial past. This is strongly illustrated by the impressive number of voters who support a new Chilean constitution. The latter is to be completely detached from the present document, which was approved during and by the military dictatorship.
The formulation of a new constitution is to be interpreted as the first step into a new era for Chile, where democracy is constructed on a solid base and not the result of a difficult transition from a military dictatorship. In these terms, the fact that this new democracy is deeply wanted by the people is a good sign for the Chilean project.
Taking everything into account, the future finally seems bright for Chile. Therefore, it is even more important that no one takes democracy for granted. In the context of Latin America, this is an extremely fragile principle that needs meticulous and continuous attention.
Informes, Corporación Latinobarómetro, 25 October 2020.
Quality of Democracy, Democracy Barometer, 27 October 2020.