‘A constituent assembly is essential for a new Chile’

Christian Cuevas (right) during a Mapuche resistance march in Chile. Photo: Facebook / Cristian Cuevas Zambrano

Left-wing parties in Chile are pushing a plebiscite for a Constituent Assembly to address the main social issues affecting young people, workers and communities.

Activist Cristian Cuevas from the New Democracy Party, which forms part of the Broad Front (FA) alliance, said they are seeking a strong showing in the November 19 presidential and parliamentary elections to push forward on their proposal.

"We want citizens to govern themselves, to regain their sovereignty," Cuevas told teleSUR. "Our victory would mean the victory of millions and their certainty that they can govern this country."

Cuevas said leftist parties are focusing on social issues, student movement struggles and labour issues, such as the fight for a new pension system.

For the presidential elections, they are supporting FA candidate Beatriz Sanchez. Cuevas, however, said he wants the project to go even further than the elections.

"We're not just thinking of having good results or winning the presidency, but of building a project that looks at our country, looks at our neighbourhoods and the rest of Latin America," Cuevas said.

Cuevas said it's important for candidates not to lose contact with social struggles in their territories and to avoid becoming elitist after they have been elected by their communities, since that would be betraying voter confidence.

Elections in Chile are a complex situation, according to Cuevas. Roughly 60% of people who can vote do not participate in elections. Governing elites and powerful business owners want to keep things as they are.

"The right wing and those who govern don’t care that people don't vote. We want to change this,” Cuevas said. “The first thing needed is to restore trust and to build a social and political relationship so that they can see in the Broad Front and their candidates a possibility and an alternative to this model."

He added that their main fight is to change the constitution, which was approved in 1981 under the military regime of Augusto Pinochet.

"We want to advance to a new institutionalisation of the country, to call for a Constituent Assembly," Cuevas said. "That is the basis for a new Chile."

 “What unites us all is that we want to overcome and defeat neoliberalism,” Cuevas said. "And we believe we need to defeat those who control politics and the economy in the country."

Cuevas said he believed Chile will see that it's time to listen to social struggles and to put in the hands of the people the power and responsibility to change their future.

"We are destroying myths: that the left wing can't rule, that they can't do things right," Cuevas said, as he acknowledged that they have to correct many things.

"We can't get lost or contaminated in corruption or bad politics, we have to make politics a project of transformation and change, where ethics is the most important thing."

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]