“I hope this democratic process is an opportunity for Chileans to write a more fair and just future,” Rep. Joaquín Castro said.
The majority of Chileans—80%—voted to have a new constitution. Amid a year of contagion and turmoil, Chileans turned out Sunday to vote overwhelmingly in favor of having a constitutional convention draft a new charter to replace guiding principles imposed four decades ago under the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The news of this revolutionary moment for Chileans was felt around the world.
Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) tweeted a congratulatory message to Chileans, saying “Congratulations to Chile on a landmark vote to draft a new constitution—relegating the last remnant of Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship to history. I hope this democratic process is an opportunity for Chileans to write a more fair and just future.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also wished Chileans well on this historic event, tweeting: “¡Felicidades, Chile!”
Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) also tweeted, “Today, I join the people of #Chile in celebrating their historic referendum vote yesterday. An overwhelming majority of Chileans chose to re-write their Pinochet-era constitution by convening an elected constitutional assembly with gender parity.”
The country’s conservative government had agreed with the center-left opposition to allow the plebiscite after the outbreak of vast street protests that erupted a year ago in frustration over inequality in pensions, education, and health care in what has long been one of South America’s most developed nations.
The Electoral Service said Sunday night that with nearly all polling stations reporting, about 78% of the 7.4 million votes counted favored drawing up a new constitution, while just under 22% were opposed. About 79% supported having the charter be drafted by a convention of 155 elected citizens rather than a convention with half its members elected citizens and the other half members of congress.
READ MORE: Latino Democrats on the President’s Refusal To Approve COVID Relief: “Trump Doesn’t Care”
In a speech to the country, center-right President Sebastián Piñera acknowledged the victory for those seeking a new charter but cautioned it is only the start of a long process.
“It is the beginning of a path, which together we will have to go through to agree on a new constitution for Chile,” said the president, who had opposed having a new constitution though he had conceded earlier in the day that it likely would be supported by voters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.