The State of Chile is operating in the vacuum of a constitutional bubble, created on the grounds that the country is living in a situation of national catastrophe by the COVID-19 pandemic. A few days ago, the President of the Republic, without further justification, decided to extend for 90 more days the constitutional state of emergency of «Catastrophe», which – in addition to a greater presence of public force – entails armed military personnel on the streets and the danger that this entails, curfews, prohibitions of movement, assembly and, additional violation of other fundamental rights.
The most worrying thing is that no public body or representatives of political parties take initiative – at least – to ask for the Executive’s explanations, since these are restrictions on the fundamental rights of the population; or make the preventions about the constitutional procedures to be met or, rightly, question the measure by conducting an in-depth analysis of what the presidential decision entails and its risks to citizenship and democracy.
It definitely does not look good that the electoral route for defining a new Constitution is transited under an exception regime on constitutional rights. And the omission or silence of the political elite over this, with the government at the forefront, is troubling.
It is effective that after 180 days after the original Declaration of State of Catastrophe, the National Congress has the power to terminate it if it believes that the reasons that motivated it, ceased or were non-existent. But the passivity shown so far and the fact that the Government is playing a strategy between alarm and misinformation on public health could make the existence of a ticocyte agreement between officialism and opposition presumed to extend the state of emergency (for some reason not explicit) or, simply, such is the intonation of politics, which have not even paid attention to the issue.
In a publisher on 7 May 2020, this medium held that the measures taken in this area cannot be self-explanatory, but must be publicly well founded: «A substantive democracy does not allow fundamental rights to be transformed into empty letter and less, to be omitted by those who must ensure their full validity, even where , out of exceptionality, must experience restrictions.»
It cannot be that by a health emergency our democracy goes back to «protected democracy». Less so because of the inefficient results of government health policy: Chile has more dead than China with only 1.5% of its population.
Our country definitely does not require its armed military forces to war on the streets, which is a danger in itself, in addition to the enormous wear and tear on troops, fulfilling – already for too long – functions that are not their own and for which they are not trained.
The constitutional rights violated with this extension of the State of Catastrophe are precisely those that ensure autonomy from power: the security of personal integrity, the inviolability of domicile, freedom of opinion and conscience, freedom of assembly and association, the right of ownership, equality before the law and the right to move back and forth , among others.