Hearings began on Tuesday at the Committee on Fundamental Rights. As the theme of this first call was its subject in general, the UN Human Rights Representative for Latin America, leaders of social organizations and law professors from the main faculties of the country arrived to present on its conceptualization, the problem of its ownership -humans, people, peoples, nature, animals …?, the old, the children, the women, the immigrants…?, all at the same time?, sometimes some and sometimes others?-; the mechanisms to make them enforceable – judges, legislators, the ombusman (which some ask to call ombusperson) or all of them, as parts of a complex system; the need for a “Limitation Clause”; comparative experience and international treaties in this regard. Exhibitors were greeted with respect and attention. The place where we met became a classroom, where accumulated knowledge prevailed over passions, and the protest forces were subordinated to constitutional history, legal technique, academic development and international experience in the recognition and effective protection of those rights that the most developed democracies assure today to all their governed.
During the week, some of us left our usual posts to settle in other areas of the hemicycle and socialize with members of other caucuses: rightists who moved to the wing of the socialists, socialists who moved to the area of “the peoples” and “social movements”, “seats” who sought the company of “non-neutrals”, and so on. It was not a massive jumble, but it was the first step in the construction of a dialogue capable of permeosing the blocks and that already finds other instances outside the Congress building.
The commissions, I told you before about those formed during the installation period, work like the courses in the schools. The obligation to work together makes those who were once seen from afar now co-workers. We asked each other not only the opinion on substantial matters, but also the schedule, what is coming, what is missing. The greeting is imposed as we share common territories and the names that previously resonated far away are taking on a face; when speaking to oneself, the voices that were previously addressed to the plenary are charged with personality and go from representing a cause to embodying an individual. Then the complicit humors meet and a laugh generates the closeness that does not get any speech.
And what do we do with sole? -I say in my ear from the back row to Fernando Tirado, fisherman, representative of the Chango people, while someone mentions the rights of animals.
The same as with the flames, he replies, because next to him is the lawyer Isabella Mamani (33), Aymara, who often wears the shawls and colorful aguayos of the altiplano, and others is limited to wearing a fine straw hat with a green ribbon tasting.
Then Isabella lets out a mute laugh and settles on her golden-framed glasses. She now lives in Alto Hospicio, but is a native of Colchane, where much of her family remains. He told me that Colchane is turned into a village of old men. All the young people left and there are no longer parturients to renew them. Instead, immigrants, not all with good manners, have arrived to occupy uninhabited houses, set up tents, make noise. They already outnumber their usual neighbors and “are scared,” he tells me.
By Friday at midnight, when registration closed, 1650 requests for hearings had arrived, this time to refer to particular rights. Organizations, individuals, academics who hope to express their opinion regarding each of them. The 33 members of the commission are supposed to be separated into at least two groups to listen to as many as possible. The willingness to serve them all, however, will clash with the deadlines set out in the schedule. As the secretary told me, “if we don’t select, we finish the Constitution in 2025.”
In the plenary session on Wednesday 10, the hardest sector of the right presented a statement condemning “all kinds of violence as a form of political expression”, to be voted by the Convention. Upon meeting her two days earlier, independents did not make another that took the issue further: “Violence manifests itself in many ways in Chile: violence state violence expressed in the serious violations of human rights that we have witnessed in recent years, the different forms of structural violence of which indigenous peoples, women, children and adolescents, gender dissidents and the most vulnerable people are victims, and violence as a strategy for political and criminal action, among many others.” She then emphasized that the Constitutional Convention condemned all of them, and “is convinced that violence is not the way to overcome the political and social crisis that our country is experiencing.” This letter added 40 signatures from members of INN, the FA, the Socialist Collective and three representatives of that sector of Chile Vamos that separated from its intransigent wing: Manuel José Ossandon, Paulina Veloso and Luciano Silva.
The point is that when the floor was given, the statements in question gave rise to a among a majority that refused to support the letter of that sector of the right, considering it incomplete and deficient, but also because it came from where it came from. It was not very difficult to see that this was a political manoeuvre, quite well thought out, moreover. If rejected, the headlines of his complicit press would say the next day something like: “The Convention refuses to support condemnation of violence”, which in these times could only play in favor of José Antonio Kast, whose campaign promises the peace of the cemeteries and the order of the regiments, while the desire for democratizing transformations coexists with dispersion and fear of misgovernment.
The 20 right-wing conventions promoting the first document refused en bloc to converge with the rest in a joint statement, claiming that they had submitted theirs before, and that they demanded a pronouncement on it. They showed that above the will to issue a pacifying message was the desire to put the opponent in check. The opposition, for its part, showed its unwillingness to give away any point to that sector that insistently seeks to discredit this process, amen of carrying a history of violence that makes it frankly indigestible to grant it a Gandhian stamp. Too much generosity would have been required for that, and politics, as I have finished verifying in these months, enjoys more championship than meetings. The broad declaration called for the resignation of one minority, the other a majority. Choose, my queen is lame.
The solution was given by time. After six o’o’o’s time, the time set for the end of the session, the discussion was still alive, and not having arranged a “until total dispatch”, the conventional Viera claimed that they were waiting for him and two others for the presentation of a book at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, committed well in advance, which made it impossible for them to stay beyond the agreed time. The conventional Fuad Chaín, an expert in parliamentary arts, said that this is the case, “by regulation, this session has to end.”
Arturo Zúñiga said “let’s vote immediately, then, because don’t come to me to say now that you like to debate when we have been 4 months without debating a single substantive thing.” Many mocked with feigned rezongos, those who ridicule the laments. Vice President Jaime Bassa took the floor from the testera to confirm that we were indeed past the end time and that to continue meeting would require the majority will of the convention. He asked, first in the Chamber, whether there was a will to continue. Most moved their arms in the opposite direction. Then he did the same with each of the side rooms, and almost all of us flapping in the same way, like minute handmen that come and go. “Very well,” bassa said, “having taken cognizance of the will of the Chamber and of chambers two, three and four, because the schedule for which this session was summoned has been met, the session is adjourned.”