Chile Votes To Reject Constitution Of Brutal Dictator And Trump GOP Icon Augusto Pinochet

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Content Note: Some pretty disturbing descriptions of torture.

There are 18 million people living in Chile. On Sunday, 15 million of them — likely the entire adult population — came out to vote on whether or not to repeal the constitution established under dictator Augusto Pinochet. Seventy-eight percent of them voted to get rid of it and start to replace it with something that doesn't remind them of that devastating era and also allows more consideration for human rights and dignity. It will also be the first time in history that any country's constitution will be written with the equal participation of women, which is great but also extremely depressing when you think about it.

The last time a constitution was ratified was in a much less free and fair election in 1980. While 69 percent of the population voted in favor of the constitution, the election itself was rife with the kind of fraud and irregularities that so often happen in dictatorships.

As Pinochet gleefully announced that the Chilean people had voted "against international communism" and "demonstrated their devotion and their desire that the military government continue," voters in poorer areas across the country reported ballot boxes being tampered with, unused ballots (blank votes counting in favor of the constitution) being dumped into ballot boxes and all kinds of other, uh, "irregularities."

That constitution would enshrine an extreme form of capitalism — one devised by some particularly sociopathic economists from the University of Chicago — into the law and condemn millions of Chileans to poverty, and made Communism and Marxism illegal. It allowed the Christian Democrats a reduced role in government (that was really no role at all) and also allowed Pinochet the right to change it any time up until it went into effect in 1989.

Although Pinochet would later be charged with over 300 human rights violations and even briefly imprisoned in the UK and would die in 2006, that constitution stuck around. But not anymore. Now they get a fresh start.

A new constitution would seek to redress imbalances in Chile that have seen it become one of the world's most unequal countries, with power concentrated deeply with the ruling elite mainly based in Santiago. Health, education, ethnicity and gender are all key issues at the center of the debate. [...]

"My generation are the sons and daughters of the people who lived through the dictatorship," said Alondra Arellano, who at 22 is Chile's youngest party leader. She was elected as the president of the center-left Convergencia Social party in August.

"Our parents carry the scars of those years and live in fear of raising their voices," she said. "I have family who were tortured or exiled, and my generation realized that, if anything was going to change, we would have to take action ourselves."

While debates will be had, Chileans at large are hoping to see fundamental rights to housing, education and socialized healthcare enshrined in the new constitution, as well as recognition of the indigenous population.

One particularly significant polling place was Santiago's Estadio Nacional — the largest of the 1,168 detention centers where Pinochet held and tortured political prisoners. Over 40,000 of those prisoners were held at the stadium, and many were subsequently killed.

Seventy-three-year-old university professor Luís Cifuentes, who went back there to vote yesterday, was one of those prisoners. "On one occasion I was blindfolded and forced to march around the stadium in the dark," he told NBC. "I tripped over something strange, and reached down to realize that they were the cold bodies of murdered prisoners."

Of course, while Chileans are moving on from Pinochet, some Americans are embracing him. There are those who would like to see his economic policies implemented here — a completely free market, no social safety nets, the whole Ayn Rand thing — and also those who deeply admire his policies involving the torture and murder of his political enemies.

Kellyanne Conway is all smiles standing next to Proud Boy Tyler Ziolkowski, wearing a "Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong" shirt.

A "Tradwife 4 life" endorses Trump and also helicopter rides for communists and socialists.

Pinochet has become a hero of sorts to Trump supporters over the last few years, with many of them donning "Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong" t-shirts and pining desperately to be able to take their political enemies on "helicopter rides" — by which they mean they would just really like to violently throw us out of helicopters. These would be the same people who cry regularly over the "violence" of antifascist activists.

Pinochet's torture was not, of course, limited to electrocuting prisoners and murdering people. He also had people waterboarded with excrement and had women sexually tortured with live rats and dogs and forced them to have sex with their relatives. These are things that many Trump supporters — like the Proud Boys — would classify as doing "nothing wrong."

Even today, Trumpists are mourning the loss of his legacy.

When people tell you who they are, believe them.

This is a really, really good day for the Chilean people and we should all be very happy for them and wish them luck as they wash the Pinochet out of their hair and work towards a brighter future for all citizens. Hopefully we can get our own dictator out of office as soon as possible so we don't have to wait 40 years to undo the harm he's caused.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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