The “brutal” misinformation about the new proposed Constitution for Chile (and some of the most widespread confusions)

“Brutal”: this is the term used by the researcher Sebastián Valenzuela to describe and compare the disinformation surrounding the text that Chile must approve or reject in a mandatory referendum next September 4.

Although the electoral campaign begins on August 5, the debate on the eventual new Constitution, and the effects of a triumph of “approval” or “rejection” have taken up the debate in Chilean media and networks, along with citizen concerns like the seguridad o la inflation.

The disinformation finds space in the marked interest in the new text and in the deep difference between the models that represent the current Constitution and the new proposal.

In this context, the different interpretations, and the opinions and positions in favor or against their content coexist with “false news” and other forms of “informative contamination”as the United Nations Program for Development calls them.

Among this “informative contamination” is included the propagation of erroneous information; de contenido falso creado en forma deliberada para causar daño (disinformation) and de information maliciosa (basada en hechos reales, pero manipulados).

The most problematic aspect of the phenomenon, plantea Valenzuela, professor of the Universidad Católica de Chile, es que the disinformation se usa no sólo para generar confusión sobre la propuesta sino como attack tool.

“Cuando se dice que no hay protección a la private property en el texto de la Convención, no se espera que la gente lo crea, porque es cosa de ir mirar el texto. Eso se muueve to generate an emotional reaction, para que quien ciba el mensaje diga: ‘¿Viste?, no protegen el derecho a la propiedad, te van quitar tus cosas”. We are in a very crisp moment in which misinformation is used to crisp much more,” describes BBC Mundo Valenzuela, who analyzed misinformation in Chile in the face of the social crisis of 2019, the pandemic and the different stages of the Constitutional Convention.

“Es la disinformation como medio para aumentar la animadversión, la polarización, la sensación visceral contra alguien o contra algo”, he warned.

What will allow “el abortion until the nine months of pregnancy”, what risks the right to property, or what is registering immigrants to vote “apruebo” are some of the mensajes desmentidos por institutions, authorities, academia, media and sites dedicated to checking information.

Sí hay derecho a property

The academic Carlos Peña, columnist and rector of the Diego Portales University has been one of the voices that called on the citizenry to analyze the text by itself and clarify what it describes as “tendential interpretations”.

Sobre el abortion, por ejemplo, el texto a votar establishes el derecho a interruptir el embarazo, specifying that it will be regulated by law. Peña distinguishes between the autonomy of the decision and “the lapso en que esa autonomy puede ejercers.” The proposal does not prevent the law from creating a system of terms that protect the mother “or the unborn,” says the academic, “which is, by the way, what usually happens in the law compared.”

El borrador de la Constitución chilena quedó envuelta en varias intentos de disinformación.
El borrador de la Constitución chilena quedó envuelta en varias intentos de disinformación.Getty images

No es cierto tampoco que se eliminate la educación privada in the country

The proposal defines a National Education System that includes institutions created “or recognized” by the State. Peña precisa que, si bien “privilegia la educación provista por el Estado”, la educación privada puede derivar de otros derechos fundamentales, como la autonomia o la libertad religiosawhich also protects the objection of conscience.

The property sí es un derecho in the recently written Constitution: “Toda persona, natural o jurídica tiene derecho de propiedad” is read, de lo que solo quedan fuera bienes que “la naturaleza ha hecho comunes a todas las personas” (como glaciares, humedales o alta montaña) o they declare “inapropriables” (como agua, aire, mar territorial o playas).

El escrito expresa que nadie puede ser privado de una property, a menos que una ley ordene una expropriación “con base fundada” que deba ser indemnisada “a precio justo”with the option of reclamation before tribunals.

The “just price” is not an expression invented in this text, but a long-data concept included in the Chilean Civil Code. Neither is the option of expropriation, which is also present in the Constitution of 1980, “for reasons of public utility or national interest”. The possibility of expropriation raises a challenge before another constitutional mandate: the restitution of the property of indigenous lands.

No desaparece la salud privada

Although the Convention that redacted the proposal was already dissolved, it was also complex to distinguish in the debate between the different motions that were raised and discussed, and those that were effectively included in the text and that counted with the necessary votes for it.

The text will be subject to a compulsory vote referendum next September 4.
The text will be subject to a compulsory vote referendum next September 4.EPA

This is the case la propiedad de los fundos de pensiones reunidos en las aseguradoras privadas, lamladas AFP in Chile. Yes, it is effective that during the conventional discussion, a popular initiative that raised the “inalienable” character of these savings was discarded, but this does not imply that the new text establishes the loss of these funds. El texto plantea que toda persona tiene derecho a la seguridad socialthat the State defines the policy that the norm, and that the law will establish a public social security system.

Sobre las aseguradoras privadas de saludllamadas Isapres en el país, éstas no desaparecan con el nuevo texto: although they will lose the option of receiving mandatory health contributions from the citizenry (because they can only be assigned by law to a solidary fund) the text says that a Sistema Nacional de Salud “que podrá estar integrado por públicos y privados prestadores públicos y privados”.

No sólo el texto: también el plebiscito

The climate of disinformation a few weeks after the plebiscite has been warned by President Gabriel Boric as well as by the Electoral Service (Servel), an autonomous body that oversees elections in Chile, among other institutions.

El Servel por ejemplo, cuenta con un archivo de mensajes falsos y sus dementidos.

En el repositario se leen posteos que assuran que en el plebiscito people who have recently arrived in the country from Venezuela or Haiti would vote, assuming that their votes will be for the “approve”: el Servel precisa que se requiem 5 years of residence to participate in an election in Chile, además de 18 años cumplidos y ninguna condena a pena aflictiva.

El presidente Gabriel Boric al recibir el draftador de nueva Constitución.
El presidente Gabriel Boric al recibir el draftador de nueva Constitución.Getty images

Según los últimos datos electorales, más de 15 million people are qualified to vote en el plebiscito constitucional. Entre ellas, la comunidad migrante with the largest number of voters coming from Peru (more than 167,000). The second one is originally from Colombia and comes to just over 68,000.

En otro de los posteos desmentidos se sosteine ​​que there will be no fines for those over 60 years old que no voten en el plebiscito, para disincentivar su participation, assuming that the majority of esa población está por el “rechazo”: el Servel precisa que el suffragio en el referendo es obligatori para quienes tengan domicilio electoral en Chile, sin límite de edad.

The scope of disinformation

An investigation developed between January 2016 and December 2018 in the United States and published in 2020 in the journal Science Advances concludes that “if the deliberate circulation of false information with the objective of creating confusion and discord is intolerable in principle”, the consumption news in the United States is dominated by the news media, whether online or on television, and “fake news” barely amounts to 1% of the country’s total consumption of news.

The investigation abre una interrogante sobre el scope real de la disinformación y sus efectos.

“The volume of exposure to misinformation in Chile is much higher than that of the United States,” says Valenzuela based on studies that were conducted using the same methodology used in North America to analyze Trump’s election.

“In Chile, misinformation is hidden everywhere”sosteine ​​Valenzuela a partir de los estudios hechos en el país.

Examples of the Constitution can be found in the streets of the Chilean cities.
Examples of the Constitution can be found in the streets of the Chilean cities.Reuters

“In the United States and in Western Europe there are many sites that you can define as “fake news”, which imitate the journalistic format without any pretense of objectivity. Yo he estudiado el caso de México y Chile y no hay sitios como esos, o son muy pocos. No clear producers of “fake news” exist. This is a particularity of the country”.

Sin embargo, “unlike what happened with the outbreak or with the covid, misinformation about the constitutional text has been a production at the level of elites, of people with positions of economic, political, intellectual power.” Eso explica por qué ahora se discusse tanto el tema: porque esta vez ha sido más claro identificar a sus fuentes”, plantea el académico.

“Pero una cosa es que yo vea disinformación, y otra cosa es que yo crea lo que estoy viendo”refine.

“In the case of Chile, the number of people who create misinformation is quite low.” Las personas son muy sképticas y eso compensa un poco el riesgo. Por supuesto, siempre se puede hacer el punto de que, mientras más ves algo, te ves expuesto, se te hace más difícil contrarrestarlo. “Pero al menos la photo que nosotros tomamos es que, aunque hay mucha disinformación dando vuelta, hay también mucha disconfianza sobre ella”, he concludes.

In this panorama, one of the main questions of the Chilean public opinion at this time se remite a qué dice y qué no dice la proposal de nueva Constitución. But at least a portion of the citizenry has opted to go to the direct source: the book “Propuesta definitiva de una nueva Constitución”, of 178 pages and which can also be consulted online, is counted among the best-selling non-fiction books in el país a principios de julio, por sobre international best sellers like “Hábitos Atómicos” o “Astrofísica para gente apurada” de Neil Degrasse Tyson.

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