Environmental articles rejected by Chile’s constitutional assembly

April 25, 2022

A set of environmental proposals that would have expanded environmental protections around Chile’s mining industry were rejected by the country’s constitutional convention.

The proposals that were submitted by the environmental committee as part of a larger effort to rewrite the nation’s constitution included provision that would have granted nature the status of a legal subject with rights. It would have kept environmental crimes free of any statutes of limitation and extend protections of water sources, glaciers, wetlands and native forest.

Constituents were expected to vote on 52 articles including protecting water sources, glaciers and wetlands well into the on April 21, however when voting started, constituents rejected the entire proposal, preventing voting on individual articles and sending it back to the commission for changes.

The proposal and articles need a super-majority of 103 votes to be approved. The set of proposals fell short with 98 votes in favor, 46 against and eight abstaining.

Martin Arrau, a constituent and civil engineer who previously led a water reform campaign, said he voted against the proposals because he thought some would hinder growth and others were outside the constitutional jurisdiction.

“When it comes to the hydrological sources, basins, they have to be regulated by law and public policy, not in the constitution,” Arrau told Reuters after the vote. “If not, how are we going to have judicial and public frameworks that adapt to the variability of water sources?”

Chileans overwhelmingly voted to draft a new constitution in 2020 a year after protests against inequality rocked the Andean country. But political infighting and controversial suggestions have led to a drop in support for the process.

The assembly has until mid-May to approve articles for the draft constitution and until July to have the draft fully completed. Chileans will vote to approve or reject the new constitution on Sept. 4.

If voters reject it, Chile will stick with its current market-oriented constitution, which dates back to the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet over three decades ago.





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