In the West Indies, there is an unconscious fear of freedom, or rather: a fear of changing the way the world is. So the West Indies continues to breathe lightly in the shade of the New Rome in Washington D.C. Eric Williams noted that the whole history of the West Indies is a manoeuvring to block the emergence of an identity in institutions; that too long a history of imperialism seems to have crippled West Indian self-confidence and self-reliance. In “From Columbus to Castro”, he stated that, “V.S. Naipaul’s description of the West Indians as ‘mimic men’ is harsh, but true” (p.502). And this psychological dependence imports other forms of dependence. Moreover, one of the vehicles of import remains the education system.
Williams contrasted Caribbean dependency with the desperate desire of Latin American countries to complete the process of realizing themselves – a process which started with the wars of independence against Spain. Williams wrote that “The history of the New World represents a still unfinished process of the creation of autonomous, viable societies with equal opportunity for all.”

It cannot be that we believe freedom is bestowed by blowing a yellow bugle before a ring of white boulders that circle round the flagstaff, as the setting sun vibrates like a round brass thread puja gong over the canes of Couva. It is never the case that freedom is fashioned by sadhus who stick to the path like white cattle birds walking on legs like stilts in the mud. Chileans enjoy Latin America’s highest per-capita income, yet the highest inequality in the OECD. In a stinging rebuke of the Guzmám Constitution, the people of Chile voted in a referendum for a new Citizen’s Assembly that will write a fresh Charter. Incessant tweaking of the current constitution drafted by Guzmám, the adviser of Pinochet, has overseen the potholed development of Chile for decades. Now a new 155-seat “citizen’s body” is to be elected to work on a new Constitution that includes representatives of the First Nations Peoples.

The new “charter of the people” was a key demand of fierce anti-government protests over elitism and inequality. The protests mushroomed into demonstrations against the neoliberal austerity policies of the billionaire President Sebastian Piñera, who initially declared war on the protesters. He quickly withdrew his statements and offered a $1.2 billion pension pay out and a guaranteed minimum wage. Civil servants struggle to get benefits from the privatized pension system as the elite in upmarket neighbourhoods like Vitacura reject any notion of a charter drafted by ordinary people. Following a landslide vote in favour of the project by citizens, the new Constitution will enshrine greater equality in education.
More than 7.5 million of 14.97 million eligible Chileans voted in the referendum. Loyalists credited the present-day Constitution for the country’s economic prosperity and presaged that Chile would struggle to recover from the COVID-19 recession unless Pinochet’s legacy is preserved. Others hold the view that the old Constitution was a blockade to reform and a barricade around the poor. They believe that whatever prosperity it brought cannot justify torturing and killing political opponents and fostering deep-rooted government corruption. Chile had to choose. Those who did not choose Pinochet in the past found themselves on a flight to freedom.

It is not unremarkable how the development of South Korea reflects life in North America, and how deprivation across South America replicates life in North Korea. Oregier Benavente, Pinochet’s former personal helicopter pilot once admitted that he regularly threw prisoners into the open sea off the coast of the Valparaíso Region. In neighbouring Argentina during its “Dirty War”, thousands of people were killed in death flights. Typically, they were drugged into a stupor, loaded into aircraft, stripped, and dropped into the Río de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean.

Fitch and Moody have already set off alarm bells. They warn that the lengthy process towards greater inclusion in Chile creates uncertainty to an economy already reeling from the 2019 uprisings and the COVID-19 pandemic. They claim that writing a new charter and a series of elections over the next two years will offer political uncertainties that would dampen investment and economic recovery prospects. But what about the prospects for the poor? What about the pending recognition of Chile’s Mapuche indigenous population and their powers of collective bargaining for water, territory and the impact of privatized systems of healthcare, education and pensions that leave them empty handed from cradle to coffin?
The extractive industries are already fearful of losses. Sonami, an industry group representing Chile´s vast mining industry, is hoping for a “broad agreement” around principles that would allow mining companies regulatory certainty. But where is the regulatory certainty for a pedagogy of the oppressed? Oppression is a series of punctuated interruptions that dehumanize individuals who become objectified through injustice and exploitation. Referendums release the oppressed to regain their lost humanity. The freedom to determine our loyalties and priorities is an irreplaceable liberty. Faced with the outcome of the referendum, President Piñera is now hoping that a new Constitution would overcome the divisiveness in Chile that has limited its growth and inclusiveness.