In an interview with Chile’s 24Horas channel on October 29, humanist deputy Tomás Hirsch explained the two fundamental reasons that have led his party and other deputies to file a constitutional accusation against President Sebastián Piñera: political responsibility for the violation of human rights improper to a democracy, on the one hand, and having decreed a state of emergency while carrying out actions that correspond to a state of siege, on the other, in violation of articles of “their” Constitution, a constitution that is inherited from the dictatorship and umbilical cord linking it… Reasons that have led them to demand a new constitution and a constituent assembly that drafts it.

Regarding the reasons that justify the constitutional accusation against President Piñera, Hirsch explains in this interview that there are two fundamental motives: on the one hand, the violation of human rights proper to a dictatorship and never seen in a democracy (deaths, torture, sexual abuse…) and on the other, a legal issue: “the President decreed a state of emergency and the actions that were carried out correspond to a state of siege, [for this] he required the agreement of the National Congress, which meant he was not going to kill his people… that is why he declared a state of emergency and said that we are at war. Here they have been failing to follow articles from their own constitution, it is not a constitution we like. Furthermore, I believe that the way out of the current crisis is a new constitution, but as long as the current one is in force, the president has to comply with it and has flagrantly violated it and this makes him worthy of a constitutional accusation.

And what began as a proposal of a few Members, by the HP, has been growing. Today there are more parliamentarians than are needed”.

When journalists point out to him that the president of the Chamber of Deputies does not agree with this accusation… Tomás H. answers them: “The president of the chamber for this question is one more deputy and has the right to have his opinion and surely there will be votes for and against. From my point of view, this accusation is an ethical issue, it is to respond to citizens whose rights have been tremendously violated. If we are here, in this chamber, something that took us a long time to reach because of the binominal system, if we are here it is to defend the rights of the men and women of our country when they are defenseless against abuses of power. That’s why at least some of us are here, that’s why I’m here.

“Is there a political floor to make this accusation, not only the signatures, but also to have the backing of the congress?”, asked the conductors of the newscast.

“I believe that if the deputies study in conscience what has happened here this week, which are violations of human rights at a level we did not know in democracy, which had never occurred in our country, frankly beyond short and personal calculations, I believe that all of them should support this constitutional accusation.

But how is it going to be a political advantage to defend people if they are killing them, shooting them?

When asked if it is not political opportunism, Hirsch indignant replies: “But how is it going to be political opportunism to defend people if they are being killed, they are being shot, they have been blinded in one eye, there are children who are in a lamentable situation. There have been rapes, sexual abuses, is that exploitation, defending the people who have been going through it in a terrible way?  No, no… here there has been violence by the apparatus of the state that is unacceptable… that we knew in the dictatorship”.

The 2005 campaign already denounced the businessmen, the AFPs, education as a business… in 1992 we left the Concertación [Coalition in Government] because the social demands were no longer being responded to…

When asked if this accusation is not inappropriate at a time of so much violence in the streets, Tomás says: “The situation is very complicated. Let’s be serious. The situation is serious. There’s the constitutional accusation, on the other hand there’s how we got out of the situation we’re living in and the government hasn’t understood anything… There is a people who woke up… Don’t tell me that nobody noticed it  here. And he recalled the almost three decades that humanists have been denouncing and calling attention to certain issues. He invited the newspaper library to meet “the presidential campaign of 2005 when we denounced the businessmen, when we denounced the AFP, when we denounced education as a business… all this we have been proposing for a long time and the government continued. It’s like they squeeze, they squeeze… until a people can’t take it anymore. That’s why the mobilization continues, not because there is a constitutional accusation or not, the mobilization continues because the government is not responding to the depths of the problem.

Let me explain, it’s not 30 pesos for the Metro, it’s 30 years of abuse. I know that I am not going to be able to list all the abuses that have been practiced and that in 1992 led us to the decision to abandon the agreement because there was no response at that time – I am talking about 27 years ago – to social demands, which was a commitment to the recovery of democracy. That has deepened, they have given away water, they have given away fisheries… a president who was supposed to be a socialist, like Ricardo Lago”.

When asked why not sit down to talk, in reference to the meeting called by Sebastián Piñera en la Moneda, to which the deputies of the Frente Amplio among others did not attend and at the insistence, an indignant Tomás Hirsch answers: “Of course not. Do you talk when they put a gun to your head? Not me.

The journalist insists if they were pointing at him directly, and that is when the deputy responds firmly: “I am part of the people of Chile, the people of Chile were with a gun threatening them and shooting them in fact. It wasn’t a threat, there are thousands of wounded, thousands of wounded, hundreds of denunciations before international human rights organizations, human rights missions come to investigate what is happening here in Chile, so, in those conditions, can you talk to a president? No.

Three measures are needed: a constitution that breaks the umbilical cord with the dictatorship, a system of real pensions and salaries above the poverty line… It takes an end to abuses and treating people well.

Regarding the need to draft a new democratic constitution, he commented, “Do you know what’s going on? We are the only country in the world that thirty years after a dictatorship, we maintain a constitution inherited from the dictatorship, the only country; it is an umbilical cord that ties us to the dictatorship.

When asked about the change of cabinet, Hirsch was emphatic: “Let’s be clear, all of Chile knows that Minister Chadwick should have left after the assassination of Camilo Catrillanca, all of Chile knows that the change of cabinet that took place was totally insufficient… with this change, what we have seen have been chairs… but we have not been told about the programme, the government has to listen to the citizens demands, which are very clear, this is not a cabinet. A constitution that breaks the umbilical cord with the dictatorship, a real pension system… and thirdly, salaries that are above the poverty line. It is unacceptable for a person to brake their back all their life and stay below the poverty line, is not acceptable… in other words, an end to abuse. Treating people well, that’s not so much asking.

Translation Pressenza London