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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Chileans cast their votes as proposed new constitution is rejected in Chile


NEW YORK –‌ Patricia North, originally from Santiago, Chile, but⁤ now living in Vineyard, is a long way away from the South American nation.

But she still cares about ⁤what happens‌ there, and⁢ on Sunday she was one of perhaps hundreds​ from around Utah who cast a ballot in the nation’s plebiscite on a proposed new Chilean constitution. “My family’s still there. I want them ⁢to⁣ be safe,” she​ said after casting her vote at the‍ balloting site set up in Sandy for Chilean expatriates.

Chile’s constitution, drawn ‌up in 1980 during the regime⁢ of former dictator Augusto Pinochet, has been the focus of intense debate⁤ dating to national protests in 2019 focused on‍ a range of social issues. ‌Chileans last year overwhelmingly rejected a proposed new constitution perceived as left-leaning that emerged‍ from the debate. The new ⁤proposal, drawn up by a group of right-leaning officials, was similarly⁤ headed toward defeat‌ as of ⁢late Sunday ​afternoon, the Associated ⁤Press and other media outlets reported.

Whatever the case, Sunday’s voting in Sandy ⁤drew a passionate contingent of Chilean expatriates in Utah. The Chilean Consulate of Los​ Angeles, which covers Utah, Colorado, Southern California and other parts of the Southwestern United States, ‍set up the site,⁣ one of many remote balloting‍ places across the United States and around the world.

Expatriate Participation

Kathleen Frez, now living in Lehi but originally⁣ from​ Santiago, was among ‌the voters in Sandy, like North. She called it a civic duty to vote, even if she is so far from Chile. “We all want⁤ the best for our country,” Frez said.

Some 15 ⁢million⁤ Chileans in all went to the polls on Sunday, including expatriates in Utah and ​the​ rest of ⁣the world. Since 2017,⁤ Chileans living abroad have had the right to vote remotely in presidential elections and‍ national referendums, according to Francisco Leal, ⁣consul general of‍ the Chilean ⁣Consulate⁤ in Los Angeles, California, which covers Utah. Some 1,300 Chileans now living in Utah and⁢ Colorado were properly registered ⁢to vote ⁣on Sunday,⁣ he said, and they formed a steady stream at the​ polling place ​in Sandy.

Hope for the Future

Fernando Maluenda and his wife Priscila Maluenda, now living ​in South Jordan, took part. “We still feel Chilean,” Priscila Maluenda said.

Maybe their votes won’t ‍sway things, Fernando Maluenda added, but still, he wanted to have ‌his say. “You always have the hope that Chile will have a better future,” he said.

Varied Perspectives

Several departing ⁢the Sandy voting place inside the Best Western Plus Cottontree Inn expressed support for the proposed new constitution.

North worries the nation has been on a downward​ spiral ⁤with ⁣increasing ⁢crime and more and more ⁤undocumented‍ immigrants entering the nation from Venezuela ⁢and Colombia. She saw the ‍proposed new constitution as a way to ⁣help counter ‍those‌ trends.

“I want my country to keep going, even if I ‌stay here,” she⁣ said.

After so much protesting and instability in Chile in recent years, Karoll Adonis, originally from Santiago and now living​ in ⁣Provo, similarly ‌viewed the proposed⁤ constitution as a way of bringing stability back to the country. “Now with everything that’s happening, I think we’re going backward,”⁤ she ​said.

Camila Gonzalez, now living ⁣in Midvale but originally from the northern Chilean city⁣ of Antofagasta, voted ⁤against the proposed ⁤constitution. It doesn’t do enough to protect the ⁤environment, a⁢ big concern for her, she said, and ⁤she also worries it chips away at abortion ⁢rights in the nation, already limited. What’s more, she doesn’t think the public had enough say‍ in putting the proposal together.

Final Thoughts

Mulling the prospect⁤ of defeat, however, Gonzalez wouldn’t favor moves to⁢ put a third proposal to the public anytime soon. ​”I​ think we’re tired ​of voting so ‌much. We’ve gone through a lot of votes in so little time,” she ⁤said.

Sandy was‍ one of 10 U.S. cities⁢ where expatriate ⁤Chileans could‍ vote and among many more locations all around the world. More than⁢ 127,000 Chileans‌ in all outside the South American⁤ nation were eligible to vote,​ including just over 20,000 in the United ​States,​ according to the Chilean Electoral Service.

Truth Media Network
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  1. Disagree. Chileans’ rejection of the proposed new constitution is a missed opportunity for much-needed change and progress in their nation.


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