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Chile announced on Friday it will stage a referendum to replace the countrys dictatorship-era constitution next year – a key demand of protesters after nearly a month of sometimes violent civil unrest.
The current charter, in force since 1980 and enacted by the former military junta of Augusto Pinochet, has been changed numerous times in the years since.
But it does not establish the states responsibility to provide education and healthcare — two demands made by millions of Chileans who have taken to the streets.
Lawmakers in Chiles National Congress agreed early Friday to hold the plebiscite in April 2020 after hours of negotiations between the governing coalition and opposition parties.
The referendum will ask voters whether the constitution should be replaced and if so, how a new charter should be drafted, Senate president Jaime Quintana said.
The unrest that began on October 18 with protests against a rise in rush-hour metro fares has mushroomed into a broader outcry against the status quo, with burning, looting and daily confrontations between demonstrators and police.
The crisis is Chiles biggest since its return to democracy in 1990, leaving 20 dead – five at the hands of state forces – and more than 1,000 injured.
Greater social reform demanded
Protesters cite low wages, high costs for education and healthcare and a yawning gap between rich and poor in a country dominated politically and economically by a few elite families.Read More – Source