Camila Vergara is a postdoctoral research scholar at Columbia Law School.
In the wake of Chile’s popular uprising, the country’s right-wing government is carrying out a ruthless legal crackdown against all forms of protest. Some call it “law-and-order populism” but there’s nothing populist about it — it’s inspired by the penal practices of twentieth-century fascism.
The social upheaval in Chile has made it clear that the country’s Pinochet-era, neoliberal constitution must go. But the process of replacing it cannot be a top-down affair. Like the popular assemblies that have carried the rebellion forward, it must be based on democratic mass participation.
The ongoing popular upheaval in Chile is the product of thirty years of neoliberal oligarchy and half-hearted democratization. To uproot the existing power structure, the country needs a new constitution.