24 de Marzo del 2015/SANTIAGO Con la presencia del ex Presidente de la República, Ricardo Lagos, la Fundación Democracia y Desarrollo realiza el lanzamiento de una nueva plataforma digital que busca incentivar la participación de todos los chilenos en la proposición de ideas y conceptos que podrían incorporarse en una nueva Constitución para Chile. FOTO: RODRIGO SÁENZ/AGEWNCIAUNO

The fact that Chile is considering a new Constitution is the result of 25 years of political evolution. With the return of democracy in 1990, a process of constitutional reform began that was finally consolidated in 2005 when the last vestiges of authoritarianism were swept aside.
After the economic crisis of 2008 and the emergence of new technologies citizens are empowered with a greater level of knowledge and information than ever before. Today, Pericles’ forum in Athens is the internet; there, millions of people can share their opinions and campaign for their demands to be acted upon. For this reason, a consensus and legitimacy for a new Constitution will only be achieved if it is born of agreement, allows space for different visions, and represents each and every one of us. Continue Reading

Written at 12:49 am

Ricardo_Lagos_talcaLooking back after a long period spent in public life, I can see that what we did in the past, in fact precisely because of what we did in the past, has transformed us into a very different country. If we were to compare a photograph of Chile taken in 1990 with one taken today, we would see very different situations that demonstrate a profound political, social and economic mutation of Chilean society.

In political terms, in 1990 a subservient State meekly implemented neoliberal policies and allowed the markets to regulate themselves. Today, that weak state has been under increasing scrutiny since the crisis of 2008. The solution of every single Western leader to the economic crash was political. I.e.: to strengthen an active State that regulates the market and its effects. Continue Reading

Written at 12:12 am

Since the return of Democracy to Chile 25 years ago, the idea of constitutional reform has constantly been on the mind of the citizenry and the political class. Even though fundamental changes have been implemented along the way, the latest taking place a few months ago with the welcome end of the bi-nominal system, clamour for a new institutional set up is increasing.
How should we channel citizen participation for the design of a new road map and how should we establish a dialogue with movements that demand a change in our political system? These are basic questions when considering a new, more representative institutional arrangement that understands political rights and consolidates a more participative democracy.

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Indignats / Indignados / Indignés

Photo Credit: Julien Lagarde via Compfight cc

In June 2011, the group Democracia Ya (Democracy Now) used social networks to gather over a million people in plazas across Spain – they became known as the Indignados – to protest against public policies that were being implemented in the face of the economic crisis. That same year, over 300 thousand young Chileans came out onto the streets for several months in an emphatic campaign for free, quality education.
Both the indignados and the student protests are expressions of the epic that is occurring among young people in the West as they question various different aspects of the elites of political and economic power. But who are these young people? In Latin America they are the sons and daughters of the emerging middle class who, after achieving a certain quality of life, are criticizing the reigning social order and the way that institutions resolve problems. In Europe, in contrast, they are the result of the implementation of austerity policies that have been political parties’, conservative and progressive alike, only response to the crisis, allowing the market to define the path of the economy without, for example, addressing the issue of very high youth unemployment (close to 22%). Continue Reading

Written at 12:00 am

limaIn 2007, for the first time in the history of humanity, a majority of the world’s population was living in cities. This phenomenon is the result of a process that began long before more than 50% of human beings lived in urban areas, as people started to build commercial networks and concentrate information and wealth. Cities took on a new importance, becoming more than a set of streets, traffic lights and buildings but rather places that connect us to regions, continents and the world. Continue Reading


(c) Claudio Santana. Cortesía Fondo de Cultura Económica

A few weeks ago, I introduced the publishing phenomenon Capital in the 21st Century by the French economist Thomas Piketty in Chile. The book is a 700 page study written in technical language accompanied by a sea of statistics that focuses on unequal distribution of income and wealth in contemporary capitalism.

Why has a treatise like this become a global bestseller? Firstly, because it shows, using  irrefutable statistical analyses – the most complete studies ever undertaken – that develo
ped countries have regressed and now present the most unequal levels of income distribution since before the First World War.
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Written at 3:22 pm

RLWhat we experience today as the democratic system is essentially the result of constant technological progress. As you know, in the Western world the appearance of the Gutenberg Press in the 15th Century transformed politics and society. This revolution led, a century later, to the printing of the first newspaper and the consequent formation of an educated critical minority who felt just as or more capable than the king to take part in public deliberations. The radical response to these new opinions was the French Revolution and with that, decades later, came suffrage and democratic representation.
In the 20th century, radio, cinema and television appeared which changed the form rather than the substance. The dynamics of classical democracy were maintained: the leader issued an opinion and it was reported through the media. The citizen then read the newspaper, listened to the radio or watched television and decided whether or not to contribute politically. Continue Reading

Written at 3:49 am

If Prehistory is the longest period in History, then humanity has spent the majority of its existence living a nomadic rather than sedentary existence. Hunter-gatherer communities moved from one place to another seeking food and refuge for many centuries while sedentary existence only began with the discovery of agriculture, which offered an opportunity to definitively live in a determined territory. Migration, then, is an ancestral right.

According to a United Nations report, there are currently 200 million people living outside of the country of their birth. These people; 3% of the world population, are generally young and fleeing poverty, violence or civil wars in search of richer, more peaceful countries. The simple decision to cross a border is an act of bravery. Utterly vulnerable, they expose themselves to extortion and abuse, pay very large sums of money to smugglers, and willingly put their lives at risk. On the other side, a new battle begins: one for survival. This was the case of Bertín from Cameroon who paid 1500 euros to swim across the Mediterranean, and Jorge from Honduras, who managed to cross the dangerous Mexican border after two years of failed attempts. However, on the other side, their dreams were not realized. As illegal immigrants without jobs, stable shelter or social security, life continued to be a nightmare. Continue Reading

Written at 12:15 am

A couple of weeks ago, a historic event brought an end to a very unpredictable year. Cuba and the United States restored diplomatic ties. Thus, from one day to the next, over 50 years of hostility were over and a new era of dialogue and rapprochement had commenced.
I celebrate this news at the end of 2014, which was a surprising year full of events that no-one could have predicted. When you think back to the preceding 365 days, you realize that they may not have changed the world but they did certainly present us with some new realities. On January first, 2014, who would have imagined that Russia could so easily annex Crimea? Who would have thought that the President of China, Xi Jinping would sign an agreement with Barack Obama to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%? Before May, the term ISIS didn’t mean anything to anyone. And we’d never have thought that Germany would beat Brazil, the hosts, 7-0 in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Continue Reading

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