Chile: What the Results of the October 25 Referendum Reveal

By Dominique Ferré

One week after the October 18 presidential election in Bolivia, U.S. imperialism suffered another setback in Latin America, which it has treated as its backyard for more than 100 years. [See article on Bolivia’s recent election at]

On Sunday, October 25, the Piñera government in Chile convened a double referendum in an attempt to defuse the workers’ and youth revolt that erupted in October 2019 with the cry: “No son 30 pesos, pero 30 años” (It’s not about 30 pesos, It’s about 30 years).

The magnitude of the results is crystal clear: 78% of voters supported the call for a new constitution, thus ending the Pinochet dictatorship’s Constitution, imposed since 1980. And 79% of voters served notice that the new Constitution must emanate from a “Constituent (Constitutional) Convention” — and not, as some proposed, from a body composed of 50% of members of the current parliament.

In the framework of this referendum the voters expressed their profound aspiration for a sovereign Constituent Assembly endowed with the power to sweep away all the institutions inherited from the dictatorship and all their policies of subordination to the multinational corporations, the IMF and the U.S. administration.

This central aspiration was expressed a thousand times in the streets over the past year. It’s an aspiration that grew ever-more intense given the regime’s inability and unwillingness to protect the population from both the COVID-19 epidemic and from hunger during the lockdown: “If it’s not the virus, it will be hunger that kills us,” clamored the rebellious working-class residents of the district of El Bosque last May.

There is no doubt that the leaders who claim to represent the working class did everything over the past year to salvage an institutional framework that they had preserved during the past 30 years of “Concertación,” or Governance Pact, that followed the fall of the dictatorship in 1990. But the working-class movement proved itself stronger than all their bureaucratic maneuvers. It forced the leaders of all the mass organizations (Socialist Party, Communist Party, Broad Front, and the historic trade union federation, the CUT) to renounce their acceptance of the 1980 Constitution and, on October 25, to call for a vote against the current Constitution.

Such was the staying power of this movement that it revived the best traditions of struggle and solidarity of the Chilean working class, such as the Ollas Comunes [1] in the hunger-ridden working-class neighborhoods.

Forty-seven years after the coup d’état of General Augusto Pinochet and the CIA [2], the Chilean working class affirmed that it is still standing, ready for the struggle to settle accounts with the dictatorship and its executioners.


[1] The “communal soup kitchens” were first organized in Chile by workers’ organizations during the crisis of 1930-1932. They resurfaced again under the dictatorship in the 1980s, becoming a hotbed of workers’ resistance.

[2] The Popular Unity government, in fact, paved the way for the September 11, 1973, coup d’état. It should be recalled that before he massacred tens of thousands of leftist activists (including President Salvador Allende), Pinochet had been appointed Minister of Defense and Commander of the Army of the last Popular Unity government by the leaders of the Socialist and Communist parties.

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