President Piñera refers to agreements for peace, social justice and a new Constitution
For all Chileans, the past four weeks have been hard and difficult, affecting the body and soul of our society; they have left us with profound lessons and have also sown hope.
During these weeks, we have witnessed the legitimate demonstrations of millions and millions of Chilean men and women who are asking for and yearning a fairer and more equitable Chile, a Chile with greater equality of opportunity and fewer abuses, a Chile with more dignity for all and fewer privileges for some. Inequality is not only material; it also has to do with the way in which the state relates to citizens, the way in which companies interact with their workers, their suppliers and their consumers and the way in which, as citizens, we all relate to each other.
We have listened very closely and with great humility to the strong and clear voice of our citizens, learning valuable lessons because they put forward demands that are fair and legitimate and, therefore, call for our commitment as a government and a society.
In the past four weeks, Chile has changed, Chileans have changed, and the government has changed. We have all changed. Because the social contract under which we had been living fractured, revealing its wounds and cracks. Together, we must all renew this social contract so as to heal those wounds and repair those cracks.
And for that to be possible, all, all Chilean men and women of good will must categorically and unambiguously repudiate violence, wherever it comes from. Because we know that violence only begets more violence and is always accompanied by pain and frustration, and hits hardest the most vulnerable, those most in need. Our government will, therefore, do its utmost within the rule of law to ensure justice and that there is not impunity for those who have caused so much damage to so many Chileans.
Last Tuesday, after a night of destructive violence, we proposed three great agreements to all Chileans: an Agreement for Peace, an Agreement for Social Justice and an Agreement for a New Constitution.
Dear fellow Chileans:
That night, Tuesday night, as President of Chile, I had to choose between two very difficult roads: the road of force, decreeing a new State of Constitutional Exception, or the road of Peace. Our national coat of arms says “by reason or force”. That night, we opted for the road of reason and to give peace a chance.
I want to thank so many civil society organizations which, the next day, did not hesitate to join that path of peace and unity. I am grateful for the commitment to Chile demonstrated by so many business associations, organizations of SMEs, university rectors, organizations that work with children and adolescents, churches and political figures from across a broad spectrum who did not hesitate to come to La Moneda and generously express their firm support for those paths of future and hope.
I also want to thank our armed forces, our uniformed and plainclothes police services and our firefighters who, during exhausting and often violent days, risked their lives and their physical safety to protect our lives and our physical safety.
Unfortunately, despite a strong commitment and all the precautions taken not only by the government but also by our armed forces and the police to protect the human rights of all, protocols were not adhered to in some cases, excessive force was used, abuses or crimes were committed and everyone’s rights were not respected.
I want to express my solidarity and condolences to those who were victims of that violence, who suffered injuries and, very especially, the families of those compatriots who lost their lives. I want to tell you from the bottom of the soul that our prayers and thoughts are with you.
Our commitment to human rights, truth and justice requires that all these cases, which are being investigated internally by the armed forces and the police or by the National Prosecution Service, continue to be investigated so that, depending on the merit of the case, they can be brought before our Courts of Justice and be judged by them.
There will be no impunity either for those who committed acts of unusual violence or those responsible for abuses. We will do our best to assist all the victims in their recovery and to ensure that the Prosecution Service and the Courts of Justice fulfill their mission of investigating and meting out justice.
The Agreement for Peace does not only imply safeguarding public order and safety. It means much more, it also means strengthening civic friendship among all Chileans, it means being governed by the rule of law and respecting the law, it means respecting the human rights of all, it means pacifying spirits so that you and your family and all Chilean families can live, study, work or relax in peace and safety and thus enjoy the full exercise of their freedom and rights.
The Agreement for Social Justice means advancing, with renewed will and a clear sense of urgency, in improving the pensions of our senior citizens, improving the incomes of our workers, improving the health of our families and ensuring, through reasonable prices for basic services such as public transport, electricity, water or road tolls, a cost of living that reduces the fear of so many families of not knowing whether they will be able to get to the end of the month.
Our middle class has progressed through its own merits and sacrifice, and it knows it. But it is also true that part of it is fragile and many middle-class families live in constant fear: fear of losing their job, fear of illness, fear of crime, fear of old age. And that is why the Social Agenda also has to address that fragility and those fears.
We are very aware that the measures we have announced and will announce will not solve all the problems immediately. I wish that were possible. But we do know that they have meant and will mean important relief and they represent a firm commitment on the government’s part and, I believe, all political forces to advance with determination and will towards a fairer Chile.
That is why the Agreement for a New Constitution, reached by members of Congress in the early hours of Friday morning, means a broad and solid commitment, which I am sure is supported by a majority of citizens, who will have an active and effective participation: first, in an initial plebiscite; secondly, by electing their representatives on the Constituent Body; and, thirdly, through a final plebiscite so that it will be the citizens who have the final say on our future Constitution.
Consequently, if citizens so decide, we will move towards a new Constitution, the first written in full democracy and accepted and respected by all, a Constitution that serves as the great framework of unity, legitimacy and stability which enables our democracy to face the paths of the future and allows all citizens to process and resolve our legitimate differences within the framework of the Constitution and the law. In this way, we will truly advance towards the construction of a shared house, the house of all, which is the homeland to which we all pay homage.
Today, I want to recognize and thank from the bottom of my soul that large group of members of Congress who, after many hours of difficult negotiations and legitimate discussions, were able to overcome many of their historical differences and, through an agreement, put the interests of Chile and Chileans first. That is what the good politics we saw early this Friday is about.
I would also like to thank, with emotion, those millions and millions of Chileans who, despite all the difficulties and risks, went to their places of study or work so that Chile could keep functioning and not stop; those hundreds of SMEs and small entrepreneurs, many of whom lost the work of a lifetime and yet remain willing to pick themselves up and try again; the companies that gave their workers and suppliers leeway; and so many families, mothers and fathers, who knew how to contain and comfort their children, who have undoubtedly been affected by the fear and uncertainty that violence always generates.
Dear fellow Chileans:
The final outcome of these four weeks is not yet written. It is up to us to build and travel together the paths that lead our country and our society to a good port.
We have taken important steps in the right direction, such as the agreement on tax matters and the 2020 budget. But we still have a long road ahead. And the next agreement we have to build is to improve the pensions of our senior citizens. Our government is willing to go beyond the 20% increase we have proposed, but I want to be very clear: we have to travel this path responsibly and that calls for a gradual approach in line with reality, not just good intentions.
Our government, with the collaboration of Congress and civil society, is committed to advancing, with decision and urgency, in strengthening and perfecting the Social Agenda and promoting a great Agreement that allows us to establish a Constitution, which guarantees a shared house, a house for all, and to be able to build a Chile in which we are all more free, a Chile with more justice and a Chile with more fraternity.
In this mission, we must avoid falling into populism and demagogy, because we know that they lead only to pain and frustration for all Chileans and, particularly, for the most vulnerable and those most in need. Our duty is always to act with responsibility and sensitivity, building the paths of the future of our country on rock, not sand.
These last four weeks have hit our system of production hard and deeply and will mean great costs for our economy. But I also want to say that our economy is healthy and has solid fundamentals. We have an arduous task ahead to put it on the path of growth and this calls for vision, responsibility and the efforts of all. We must rebuild what violence destroyed, we must go out in support of so many SMEs and enterprises that have suffered the rigors of this last week, we must also put in place a plan to give a renewed boost to our economy so as to return to the path of growth and, together, advance towards a freer, fairer and happier Chile.
Dear fellow Chileans:
Let’s take care of our families.
Let’s take care of our democracy.
Let’s take care of our wonderful country.
God Bless Chile and all Chileans and give us all the wisdom and strength to travel together the roads of the future.
Goodnight and thank you very much.