Constitutional woes frustrate green hopes in Chile


Chilean President Gabriel Boric, shown here announcing an electric-bus project for the cities of Coquimbo and La Serena on Jan. 17, tried and failed to orchestrate the adoption of a new constitution with strong environmental protections. (Photo by Alex Ibañez)

Chileans entered 2024 having rejected two constitutional-reform proposals in the space of two years—the first faulted as too progressive, the second as retrograde. The anger and hope that fueled those attempts, an outgrowth of nationwide protests in 2019 against socioeconomic inequities, has dissipated. With the decisive defeat of the second reform package on Dec. 17, 2023, many Chileans are skeptical they can ever develop a shared view on foundational questions—the country’s approach to the environment prominent among them. Constitutional reform efforts began in earnest a year after violent street protests in Oct. 2019 had paralyzed Chile for weeks. Expressing strong support for change, Chileans in 2020 approved a proposal to begin the process of replacing the current constitution, established in 1980 under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. And in 2021, they elected their youngest-ever president—leftist Gabriel Boric, then 35, who had helped lead the... [Log in to read more]

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