Haz Tu Voto Volar

Wednesday August 14, 2013 was a landmark day for the international “Haz Tu Voto Volar” campaign. The work of the many in the past 20 years, present-day pressures, conditions and realities have now lead to the possibility for ALL Chileans, no matter where in the world – “hacer sus votos valer“. But because this is only the first solid Constitutional step, and loads of “dialogue” and a few manifestaciones still need to transpire plus the reeling/unreeling of the red tape and computer glitches and set ups configured. . . Is it likely that this right to vote will be a reality this November or will the wait be until the elections of 2017 ?  Remember, we are on Legal Chilean Standard Time and so far, this legal hop took 20 years.

This first step, which is the approval of the bill (proyecto de ley) legislating the vote of Chileans abroad. It was approved by four votes to one, by the Committee on Constitution, Legislation and Justice of the Senate (Comision de Constitucion, Legislacion y Justicia del Senado). But still a long way to go. The dissenting vote was the RN (Renovacion Nacional) Senator Carlos Larrain(lawyer and politician), who said that he is not willing to allow “Chileans, who are not taxed by the authorities to decide who will govern the country.” Next major legislative steps involve the Senate (Sala del Senado)  and then the House of Representatives(Camara de Diputados).  Dario y Radio Universidad de Chile, published Wednesday, August 14th that this reform will not be effective for the presidential election on November 17, since it is necessary to process a bill of rights( la tramitacion de una ley organica constitucional)  to regulate the registration in consulates and powers of the Servitel (Electoral Service), besides the main reform that adds a couple of paragraphs to the Constitution. A good overview of Chilean senators voicing their views of ABROAD VOTER’s  entitlement to their lack of awareness, interaction, even lack of involvement in fiscal monetary matter of Chile,  in the below broadcast which reports the reasons the bill was voted for or against. What can be said? IF you go out of Chile, do you stop being Chilean?

Along the theme: Si sales de Chile, dejas de ser chileno? , the following video here in this section is a news report of the week leading up to the above mentioned legal hop. In passing, it also mentions the numbers of Chileans abroad.  A CNN Chile news report by Nicolas Oyarzun placed here because it shows all ends of the spectrum,  inside and outside of Chile.  Inside Chile, from Soledad Alvear’s position that this is owed to compatriots living in the exterior. To UDI (Union Democrata Independiente) query on whether a person abroad can make decisions for those that live in Chile. While outside of Chile, the different “voices” from the exterior of Chile that speak loudly of their chilenidad.

Speaking of Legal Chilean Standard Time, it is mentioned in this CNN newscast of again, Wednesday August 14th in which DC (Democracia Cristiana) Senator Soledad Alvear (lawyer, academic and politician) expresses her position of the long overdue voting rights for all Chileans. She clarifies that the Chilean constitution definitely does not establish a distinction – it says that:  “Los chilenos tienen derecho a voto“.  It does not (discriminate) whether a Chilean is in Chile or outside of Chile. (Besides many of the developed nations even have absentee voting options for their citizens).  This broadcast covers the taboo topic associated with this prohibition to vote for voters abroad: whether the majority of them are leftist. Soledad Alvear candidly replied a sort of God forbid this should be. Which was a breath of fresh air, because in her reply she gave privy information as to the goings on in the hallways of these inner chambers (of which, she says this topic is not even in whisper – openly discussed or mentioned). God forbid. She also states this is the first time, ever since the return to democracy there is finally an agreement in order for this reform to go forward, the only obstacle remained being the UDI. It is after these statements that she covers the time consuming legalities that need to be drafted and ratified and admits that all these complexities make it not seem possible for this right to be expedited – it is here when the Legal Chilean Standard Time scale of urgency/utmost urgency for the passing of laws is clarified according to the respective complexity of the different bills proposed.

In this article, these first few videos are directly related to the breaking news of Wednesday’s bill approval. However from here forward, the videos, that follow belong to the previous stages of this campaign. This previous stage includes information and happenings of the present-day pressures, conditions and realities that surmounted to this change of direction at Chile’s legislative branch. Key reasons for this change of heart, may have to do with certain realities pointed out later in the article. For those that prefer quick reading, it is all summarized way down below in the Prezi presentation by Rodrigo Olavarría.

Below is the campaign video of the worldwide Haz Tu Voto Volar (Make your Vote Fly). This was the united efforts from as far away places as Australia (Mauricio Vera and Sergio Saavedra), Berlin (Francisco Fuentealba), and in Washington (Valeria Lubbert). It’s aim is to get the right of vote without conditions for all Chileans living abroad. Spanning the globe, this video shows pictures of the many Chileans in a coordinated worldwide “statement”, from 35 countries and 125 cities, who on May 25, 2013 expressed this desire. Splendidly done !

Taken directly from the Berlin-Chilean connection who made this splendid campaign, website Funk Productions: The demonstration was intended to make a statement about the strong will of the Chileans who live abroad to be part of their country’s [civic] life. The same logo, posters and paper airplanes, were the common denominator for all the different activities that took place around the world. A paper plane made with the Chilean flag, which flies towards a voting box, represents this symbolic slogan.

This is an earlier video by Chilenos Sin Voto, a group based in Australia, who was founded by Mauricio Vera and later joined by Sergio Saavedra. Later they united forces with the “Haz Tu Voto Volar” campaign.  What is of great value here is that it informs the viewer that it has been since 1991 [1990]  that initiatives have been presented to the Chilean Parliament to permit expatriate Chileans and Chileans living in foreign lands the right to vote. Remember, is was in 1990 that democratic rule returned to Chile.  More than 21 years have thus passed. The group, Chilenos Sin Voto provides an electronic link to sign a petition that up to date has 190 electronic signatures (their aim is 1000) :  http://www.elquintopoder.cl/acciones/… In the year 2013, to the many of the expatriate Chileans, 40 years have gone by without the right to vote.

Estimates of how many Chileans living abroad, does this mean? The lowest number, 400,000 and the highest number seen online is 1 million. As announced by the President of the International Committee “Chile Somos Todos“, Osvaldo Nuñez (who resides in Canada)  in a Terra article titled “Chilenos en el extranjero exigen derecho a voto“. This number is echoed as well at the United Nations in a May 22,2013 Human Rights Council assembly. Below are information graphics that attempt to account for the number of all Chileans living abroad.  Actual numbers may differ, since this study used data from 2004 and nine years have passed. These graphics are from La Tercera article titled “Senado reactiva debate por voto de chilenos en el exterior” by Jose Miguel Wilson. They are based on the only statistical study thus far conducted on the topic, developed with reports from Chilean embassies and consulate offices worldwide. This 2004 study revealed the minimal number of Chileans diaspora to be 850,000, with half of them living in Argentina.

La Tercera graphics based on only statistical study thus far conducted - in 2004.  SOURCE: Chilean Census and Registry INE- Dicoex 2003-2004
La Tercera graphics based on only statistical study thus far conducted – in 2004. SOURCE: Chilean Census and Registry INE- Dicoex 2003-2004

Summary of the three sections:

  • SECTION 1: CHILEANS LIVING ABROAD – TOTAL: 850,000 of which Chileans born in Chile are 487,174 and Children of Chileans born in Chile are 370,607
  • SECTION 2: TOTALS BY REGION – South America:523,429 – North America:156,976 – Europe:125,050 – Central America/Caribbean:7,788 – Africa/Middle East:5,950 – Oceania:34,974 – Other: 3,614
  • SECTION 3: REASONS OF MIGRATION: Economic: 40,1, – Family: 30,8 – Political: 12,1 – Educational: 3,2

It should be noted that section three adds up to 86.2. So there is a sector that is not accounted for: of 13.8. This La Tercera article states that it’s been 2 years, since the Senate Constitution Committee resumed discussion on the voting reform for Chileans abroad. Discussions that had been halted since November 2011.  This article also states that the discussion was re-opened recently,  in June 2013 and credits Senators Soledad Alvear and Patricio Walker, and Chilean author and citizen, Isabel Allende for presenting a new constitutional reform initiative which points out that:  nowhere in the Chilean constitution, is there a written requirement that Chilean voters must reside on national territory. To directly quote the article: Según los autores de la iniciativa, para poder sufragar la Carta Fundamental solo exige ser chileno, tener cumplidos 18 años de edad y no haber sido condenado a pena aflictiva. En ninguna parte exige para ello residir en el territorio nacional, dice el escrito que acompaña la modificacion constitucional.

As listed in Wikipedia, a few other landmark dates in Chilean suffrage history are:

  • From 1833: Men over 25, if single, or 21, if married, able to read and write, and owning property or capital of a certain value fixed by law.
  • From 1925: Men over 21 able to read and write.
  • From 1934: Men over 21 able to read and write (general registry); women over 25 able to read and write (municipal registry, i.e. limited to local elections).
  • From 1949: Men and women over 21 able to read and write.
  • From 1970 until today: Men and women over 18.

But Chile is an enigma since it is also at the same time,  “a leader” in other voting planes, platforms. Ambiguously (or ambitiously), it was the law changes of the 1980 Chilean Constitution (from the Pinochet dictatorship years of 1973-90) that extends to immigrants to Chile,  who are over 18 years of age and reside for a minimum of 5 years, the right to vote. Chile is one of the few states in the world who extend to resident non-citizen voting rights. A sign that changes to the Chilean constitution are feasible and possible. Below is a Table from Bloomsbury Academic, article title “Transpolitical Citizenship

From Bloomsbury Academic "Transpolitical Citizenship"
From Bloomsbury Academic “Transpolitical Citizenship”

For the curious, general numbers of this immigrant population to Chile is documented and categorized in the below table dating to 2009, from website Migration Information Source, article titled “Chile: A Growing Destination Country in Search of a Coherent Approach to Migration“:

From Migration Information Source: Chile: A Growing Destination Country in Search of a Coherent Approach to Migration
From Migration Information Source: Chile: A Growing Destination Country in Search of a Coherent Approach to Migration

An enigma indeed, because en Chile hay derechos para los estranjeros que viven en Chile y que de los Chilenos en el estranjero?   Yes, that’s right – In Chile there are rights for foreigners who live in Chile, yet what of the Chileans who live in foreign lands, abroad?  In the Americas there are 16 states that extend expatriates voting rights to their nationals, Chile is not – to date, one of them.  Below is a Table from Bloomsbury Academic, article title “Transpolitical Citizenship“.

From Bloombury Academic "Transpolitical Citizenship"
From Bloombury Academic “Transpolitical Citizenship”

Is voting a right or an obligation? This was a question posed by Jennifer Bisgaier of International Policy Digest as she states  These elections [of 2013] are an important electoral milestone as they mark the first time that voting for the president will not be mandatory. Yes, since the passing of Ley 20.568.  Before this law,  voting was compulsory not voluntary for Chilean citizens (who reside on Chilean terrain).  On a separate note, related to the computer automation of the voting system (to once more quote   and follow her “backup” link): In 2009, President Sebastian Piñera changed the voting system to involve automatic registration and optional voting. The overhaul of the system did not occur seamlessly; about 1,000 names of  ‘disappeared’ people (individuals abducted during the Pinochet dictatorship) appeared on the voter registration roll as they were still technically alive.

The below video is a news report, “‘Haz Tu Voto Volar’ at the United Nations” reported by Alberto Dufey, dated June 2013. He reports that the Chilean organizations (of Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Sweden and Switzerland, in cooperation with Ronda Civica Uruguay) in Europe culminated in a conference  at the UN, as the campaign,  “Haz Tu Voto Volar”. The organizers presented their cause, its impediments and solutions at the UN Human Rights Council in open panel discussions covering the topic of migrants and their civil and political rights. The meeting was documented and archived as A/HRC/23/NGO/68(“UN Document”). This meeting at the UN was preceded by an encounter of a 3-day events at Geneva, Switzerland where delegates from throughout Europe participated.  Culminating in the worldwide initiative of May 25, 2013, called “Haz Tu Voto Volar” in Berlin, Germany. At the UN conference were present, the Chilean permanent UN representative Pedro Oyarce , who openly stated that he supports el voto sin condiciones and special guests, Fernanda Mora of Ronda Civica Uruguay, who fights for the same rights in her native land, Uruguay. The meeting was sponsored by Association of Chilean Residents of Geneva, who arrogated for right to vote without conditions.

This news report covers the basics of the UN meeting. But the real nitty gritty details are buried deep in the UN Document. Es ahi – adonde esta la madre del cordero!  In this UN Document are spelled out the key points of argument for and against the right to vote without conditions of all Chilean migrants. (Some very strong points that should be read by all).  First main point is that (be it for ambitious or ambiguous aims) but Chile, since 2005 signed and ratified the UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. By doing so, Chile became a “leader” in its world region while in turn, giving incoming migrants to Chile certain rights. Yet, it is this inclusion into the International Convention that binds Chile to certain legal requirements. In specific it is pointed out that Chile is in violation of Article 41: (1) Migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right to participate in public affairs of their State of origin and to vote and to be elected at elections of that State, in accordance with its legislation; and (2) The States concerned shall, as appropriate and in accordance with their legislation, facilitate the exercise of these rights. The UN Document then goes on to explain that the Chilean Senate went on to finding agreement to 2 of the 3 requirement. They agreed on an automatic enrollment system in the electoral registers, voluntary voting but not on the topic of the Chilean votes from abroad, who are also a type of migrant worker.

Then, directly from the above referenced UN Document (but translated into English by Fundi2): In 2010, the government of President Sebastian Piñera presented the Bill 54-2010 on the Bill of Rights (the Ley Organica Constitucional)  to regulate electoral acts of Chileans abroad. Among its provisions, the project included the establishment of conditions/links (€œvínculo”) to allow Chileans to vote in the elections, which generated strong opposition from both the opposition political parties, including the judicial authorities and civil society. However, the Government does not get to change its position, insisting on keeping as a condition for the right to vote to those who reside abroad, the requirement to prove any entailment with the country. Throughout the year 2012 there was no news about this or any other bill. As the red tape no longer reels, it lays stagnate on the senate floor the only reasons given for the Parliamentary halt is that they would be in violation of Articles 13, 18 and 19 of the Constitution.The direct quote (translation) from the UN Document reads: In rejecting the ‘vinculo’ (conditions/links ) demanded by the executive, parliamentary opposition bloc to the Constitutional Court filed an injunction claiming that ‘the rules establishing requirements for voting violate the provisions of Articles 13, 18, and 19 of the Constitution since it has neither mandates the legislature to impose requirements for this project and that the president more than regulate the exercise of a right he would be hindering it ‘.

Furthermore, and independently, there are the last two key points covered in this highly referenced UN Document.  The first point comes from the Chilean Judicial Branch, in a publication report on the Bill 54-2010 (Memorandum No. 21,2011 published in the Journal of Laws 7338-07), whose editors were four ministers of the Supreme Court, who in turn report to the Electoral Court. They noted that ‘The residence of a Chilean living abroad cannot be a factor of discrimination in the exercise of the rights guaranteed by the legislature, respectively,  to a Chilean who lives in Chile, nor shall be as the requirement of a link with the country or residence status, for a certain time before the election. These requirements would involves  a violation of Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic, limiting the right to vote, setting conditions for its exercise that violate the principle of equality before the law. ‘The same authorities add that ‘… therefore, (is) essential to establish mechanisms for Chilean citizens that they are, at all times, in a position to exercise their right to vote, which includes both nationals who are in the country, and those who live abroad, provided they meet the constitutional requirements. “These requirements are:  (1) be of age (18 years)  (2) not having been sentenced to more than 3 years and 1 day of jail time (pena aflictiva) ‘

The supporting point found in this UN Document relates to a survey conducted by “National Study of Public Opinion Audit of Democracy, found 61% believe that all Chileans should be able to vote in presidential elections even if they live abroad, while 17% believe they should not be able to vote, and 16% believe it should be able to vote only those who are related to Chile (CEP November 2012).” A graph chart of this public opinion poll is referenced in the below Prezi presentation.

Summary of all the above in a Prezi presentation created by Rodrigo Olavarría (rolavarriat@yahoo.fr)

In Geneva, Switzerland following the above activities at the UN, was (below flyer) the III International Reunion held June 1-2, 2013. Where the following groups participated: Association of Chilean Residents of Geneva, Committee of Memory and Justice of Switzerland, and a network of Chileans abroad who are for the right to vote without conditions. In order to get more information and subscription to their latest news, email contact is: derechoavoto@elcanillita.ch. Also online are photographs, posing with a “Haz Tu Voto Volar” paper plane, of UN François Crepeau, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, who oversaw the General Assembly meeting involving the UN document A/HRC/23/NGO/68. Pictures of this happening are at the website of Asamblea Ciudadana Chile-Francia.

3rd International Meeting For The Right to Vote Abroad - Afiche 3er encuentro internacional por el voto en el exterior
3rd International Meeting For The Right to Vote Abroad – Afiche 3er encuentro internacional por el voto en el exterior

In the first top video it was Senator Soledad Alvear who makes a cameo presence and here below is a message from Marcel Claude, a Chilean economist, academic, and political activist – who is still in the run for presidency. A quick view of a complete and current listing of all the presidential candidates,  Fundi2 has not yet found such page, so no link was place here thus far. When one is found it will be placed here.

Y Chol Chol, que paso o que pasa en Chol Chol? Por favor, los de Chol Chol que se pongan las pilas !  In the preliminaries of July, Chol Chol, which is in Cautin Province of the Araucania Region did not register one vote ? Maybe it is a statement from the Mapuche point of view? Because they can relate to the idea that a nation is more than just its terrain. . .

There is hope. In preparation for the 2013 Chilean presidential elections on Sunday, November 17, 2013, the Chilean government is broadcasting its electronic capabilities and byway, inadvertently signaling that IF electronic registrations are possible from wherever you are, so must be the possibility of voting….. Donde vives no siempre es donde votas

Summary of important links for those who take interest in participating in the international campaign “Haz Tu Voto Volar”:

Electronic link to sign a petition for voting reformhttp://www.elquintopoder.cl/acciones/… 

Facebook page of “Haz Tu Voto Volar” campaign

        Twitter page of “Haz Tu Voto Volar” campaign

Email address of “Haz Tu Voto Volar” campaign: haztuvotovolar@gmail.com

Twitter page of   Chilenos Sin Voto

Facebook page of International Committee “Chile Somos Todos

Lastly, for those Angelenos, or anyone who resides in the Southern California area that wants to coordinate a September 21, 2013 Los Angeles – “Haz Tu Voto Volar” Manifestacion – Please, email us your interest. We are waiting to hear from such person or entity in order to place their contact information here. The plan would be for your interest and contact information to be listed here and for everyone to “follow” you on your website or Facebook. We believe this set up would leave the details of location and/or any other details under the charge of the person or entity (this makes changes/adjustments easier for you).

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