With 10 days before one of the most important elections since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship, the Chileans of Quebec still do not know where – and if – they will be able to vote.
“Until now, we have received absolutely nothing from the consulate,” worries Marcos Marchant, registered for a long time to vote on October 25.
This election promises to be historic, but also sentimental, for many political refugees who arrived in Quebec in the 1970s, who see it as an opportunity to get rid of the legacy of dictator Augusto Pinochet.
The referendum will allow Chileans to say whether they want to have a new constitution, and if so, who should write it: deputies or citizens elected to do so.
Among other things, the new law could explicitly recognize the rights of women and indigenous people and eliminate clauses that excessively protect private companies, for example.
Down with inequalities
It was also after a series of massive and violent demonstrations against the social inequalities that shook the country last year that the referendum process was set in motion.
“The new constitution is seen as a new beginning, an opportunity to start over,” summarizes political scientist Pierre Ostiguy, based at the University of Valparaiso, Chile.
However, the participation of the 1,463 voters on the list of the Consulate General of Chile in Montreal is still uncertain. ” The doubt [sur la tenue du vote] was sown and spread, ”admits the new Chilean Consul General in Montreal, Felipe Orellana.
The body responsible for Chilean elections – the Servel – confirmed to the Newspaper that more restrictive health measures “from the local authorities” prevented the ballot from taking place at the place chosen at the outset.
The Montreal Regional Public Health Directorate, Elections Quebec, the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec all deny being linked to this decision.
“It would be shameful for all provinces except Quebec to authorize the holding of a referendum vote,” said the former Bloc member of Chilean origin Osvaldo Nuñez Riquelme, who arrived in the country as a political refugee in 1974.
Chilean authorities say they are looking for a new location.
While waiting for plan B, about fifteen demonstrators gathered on Wednesday in front of the consulate office to demand answers.
” We feel[irait] betrayed not to be able to participate in such a historic vote only because we could not find a place to vote ”, protests Elena Tapia