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Changing of the Guard in Chile

August 26, 2022

Chile is undergoing a political sea change under its new leftist president, Gabriel Boric. His administration wants to introduce major reform.

DW Dokumentationen | Nahaufnahme: Umbruch in Chile – eine neue Generation
Image: ORF

On September 4, the government will face its first test, with Chileans due to vote on a new constitution.

Erneute Proteste in Chile
Image: picture-alliance/AP/F. Esteban

The legacy of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship still reverberates in Chile. In 2019, the enormous gap between rich and poor, along with rising prices and the failure to prosecute crimes committed by the former dictatorship, triggered a huge wave of protests. Since then, a new generation of younger, outspoken activists has been entering the political arena, calling for change in virtually every sphere of society.

DW Dokumentationen | Nahaufnahme: Umbruch in Chile – eine neue Generation
Image: ORF

And they’re not just talking - they’re taking matters into their own hands. Like Inés Fuentes, for example. She joined forces with other low-income earners to build an entire neighborhood during the pandemic on what was once a garbage tip - to finally have a home of their own. Or the young students who occupied their school to draw attention to the terrible conditions and lack of equipment.

DW Dokumentationen | Nahaufnahme: Umbruch in Chile – eine neue Generation
Image: ORF

It's against this backdrop, that the youngest president in Chile’s history is now promising social justice, equality and action on the climate. Gabriel Boric has assured the indigenous population there will be a fair dialogue to resolve centuries-old territorial conflicts. And the LGBTQI community is also expecting him to put an end to the discrimination they face.

Chile Warteschlange für neuen Verfassungsentwurf
Image: Lucas Aguayo Araos/AA/picture alliance

Just a few months after being sworn into office, the government is now facing opposition from many sides. Some feel the new leadership is going too far with its push for change, while others say it’s not going far enough. With the September 4 referendum fast approaching and the outcome far from certain, anticipation is rising. The vote will not only decide on a new constitution - it will also have implications for the rest of Boric’s time in office and for his proposed reform process.



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