The Economist Spreads Misinformation on the Chilean Constitutional Process and Should Apologise

The Economist's defence of the Pinochet constitution is consistent with its ideological stance; the problem is when a media outlet of this international stature publishes an article of highly questionable journalistic quality, lies to its readers with false information, and, in an act of arrogance befitting the country in which it was founded, dares to tell Chileans how to vote. As such, The Economist should immediately apologise to Chileans.

By Alejandro Baeza & Élise Hendrick

If anything characterises the most conservative segments of Chilean society, heirs of the European colonial tradition, it is the excessive importance they give to European and US opinions on Chilean politics.

For this reason, this Wednesday, all media outlets in Chile, the country with the greatest media ownership concentration in the world, reproduced and regurgitated the critiques expressed in a short article from the British magazine The Economist.

The article, Voters Should Reject Chile's New Draft Constitution, not only insults Chilean sovereignty and democracy in the very title, but dares to tell Chileans from London how to vote. Even worse, their argument is based on a series of lies, and promotes disinformation and fake news.

Amongst other thing, they are not at all ashamed to claim that: 'Landowners, such as farmers, could potentially lose the property rights to water on their land. Compensation for expropriated land would not be at a market price but at whatever Congress deems a "just" one.' Not a single article in the new constitution states that the ‘just price’ will be determined by the Congress; rather, it relies on Supreme Court decisions that define a just price as the ‘market price’ (precio del mercado). No politicians are involved in the process.

In another example, The Economist states: 'These included nationalising all natural resources (mining generates 12% of gdp)'. This would be very good news indeed, since it is one of the main demands of the social movements in Chile. Alas, this demand is not included in the draft constitution.

The assertion that '[l]egal checks and balances on the government would be watered down. A new council would have power over all judicial nominations; previously the Supreme Court' is an open admission of ignorance, demonstrating that the article's authors have no idea what they're on about. Currently, under the Pinochet constitution, it is the president who nominates the judges of the Supreme Court and the Attorney-General; the branches of government are autonomous in this respect. In creating this autonomous counsel, the new constitution will deepen the separation of powers in a country that has traditionally been hyperpresidentialist.

There are other details that are not worth mentioning, but that make a mockery of democratic debate and the proposals of the social movements, and demonstrate a profoundly colonialist attitude that looks down on the countries of the Global South, an attitude entirely consistent with the criminal colonialist history of the United Kingdom, in which The Economist is based.

The sheer quantity of lies and falsehoods in this pamphlet show not only that The Economist should stick to publishing articles on the only countries they understand, i.e. the US and Europe, but also that their only sources are the Chilean media, which all belong to bankers, financial speculators, and the holders of the main great fortunes in the country, are entirely in line with the campaign to vote NO on the new constitution.

The Economist should apologise for this colonialist attitude towards the Chilean people and, take the opportunity, albeit 50 years late, to apologise for having celebrated the coup and the beginning of the blood-soaked Pinochet dictatorship in 1973.

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The Economist Spreads Misinformation on the Chilean Constitutional Process and Should Apologise