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Economía y Sociedad № 112

Chamber of Deputies Resolution:
Government violates the Constitution

August 22, 1973


1. That for the Rule of Law to exist, public authorities must carry out their activities and discharge their duties within the framework of the Constitution and the laws of the land, respecting fully the principle of reciprocal independence to which they are bound, and that all inhabitants of the country must be allowed to enjoy the guarantees and fundamental rights assured them by the Constitution;

2. That the legitimacy of the Chilean State lies with the people who, over the years, have invested in this legitimacy with the underlying consensus of their coexistence, and that an assault on this legitimacy not only destroys the cultural and political heritage of our Nation, but also denies, in practice, all possibility of democratic life;


Eugène Delacroix, “Liberty Leading the People”
1830, Louvre Museum, Paris.

3. That the values and principles expressed in the Constitution, according to article 2, indicate that sovereignty resides essentially in the Nation, and that authorities may not exercise more powers than those delegated to them by the Nation; and, in article 3, it is deduced that any government that arrogates to itself rights not delegated to it by the people commits sedition;

4. That the current President of the Republic was elected by the full Congress, in accordance with a statute of democratic guarantees incorporated in the Constitution for the very purpose of assuring that the actions of his administration would be subject to the principles and norms of the Rule of Law that he solemnly agreed to respect;

5. That it is a fact that the current government of the Republic, from the beginning, has sought to conquer absolute power with the obvious purpose of subjecting all citizens to the strictest political and economic control by the state and, in this manner, fulfilling the goal of establishing a totalitarian system: the absolute opposite of the representative democracy established by the Constitution;

6. That to achieve this end, the administration has committed not isolated violations of the Constitution and the laws of the land, rather it has made such violations a permanent system of conduct, to such an extreme that it systematically ignores and breaches the proper role of the other branches of government, habitually violating the Constitutional guarantees of all citizens of the Republic, and allowing and supporting the creation of illegitimate parallel powers that constitute an extremely grave danger to the Nation, by all of which it has destroyed essential elements of institutional legitimacy and the Rule of Law;

7. That the administration has committed the following assaults on the proper role of the National Congress, seat of legislative power:

a) It has usurped Congress’s legislative role through the adoption of various measures of great importance to the country’s social and economic life that are unquestionably matters of legislation through special decrees enacted in an abuse of power, or through simple "administrative resolutions" using legal loopholes. It is noteworthy that all of this has been done with the deliberate and confessed purpose of substituting the country’s institutional structures, as conceived by current legislation, with absolute executive authority and the total elimination of legislative authority;

b) It has consistently mocked the National Congress’s oversight role by effectively removing its power to formally accuse Ministers of State who violate the Constitution or laws of the land, or who commit other offenses specified by the Constitution, and;

c) Lastly, what is most extraordinarily grave, it has utterly swept aside the exalted role of Congress as a duly constituted power by refusing to enact the Constitutional reform of three areas of the economy that were approved in strict compliance with the norms established by the Constitution.

8. That it has committed the following assaults on the judicial branch:

a) With the goal of undermining the authority of the courts and compromising their independence, it has led an infamous campaign of libel and slander against the Supreme Court, and it has sanctioned very serious attacks against judges and their authority;

b) It has made a mockery of justice in cases of delinquents belonging to political parties or groups affiliated with or close to the administration, either through the abusive use of pardons or deliberate noncompliance with detention orders;

c) It has violated express laws and utterly disregarded the principle of separation of powers by not carrying out sentences and judicial resolutions that contravene its objectives and, when so accused by the Supreme Court, the President of the Republic has gone to the unheard of extreme of arrogating to himself a right to judge the merit of judicial sentences and to determine when they are to be complied with;

9. That, as concerns the General Comptroller’s Office -an independent institution essential to administrative legitimacy- the administration has systematically violated decrees and activities that point to the illegality of the actions of the Executive Branch or of entities dependent on it;

10. That among the administration’s constant assaults on the guarantees and fundamental rights established in the Constitution, the following stand out:

a) It has violated the principle of equality before the law through sectarian and hateful discrimination in the protection authorities are required to give to the life, rights, and property of all inhabitants, through activities related to food and subsistence, as well as numerous other instances. It is to note that the President of the Republic himself has made these discriminations part of the normal course of his government by proclaiming from the beginning that he does not consider himself the president of all Chileans;

b) It has grievously attacked freedom of speech, applying all manner of economic pressure against those media organizations that are not unconditional supporters of the government, illegally closing newspapers and radio networks; imposing illegal shackles on the latter; unconstitutionally jailing opposition journalists; resorting to cunning maneuvers to acquire a monopoly on newsprint; and openly violating the legal mandates to which the National Television Network is subject by handing over the post of executive director to a public official not named by the Senate, as is required by law, and by turning the network into an instrument for partisan propaganda and defamation of political adversaries;

c) It has violated the principle of university autonomy and the constitutionally recognized right of universities to establish and maintain television networks, by encouraging the takeover of the University of Chile’s Channel 9, by assaulting that university’s new Channel 6 through violence and illegal detentions, and by obstructing the expansion to the provinces of the channel owned by Catholic University of Chile;

d) It has obstructed, impeded, and sometimes violently suppressed citizens who do not favor the regime in the exercise of their right to freedom of association. Meanwhile, it has constantly allowed groups -frequently armed-to gather and take over streets and highways, in disregard of pertinent regulation, in order to intimidate the populace;

e) It has attacked educational freedom by illegally and surreptitiously implementing the so-called Decree of the Democratization of Learning, an educational plan whose goal is Marxist indoctrination;

f) It has systematically violated the constitutional guarantee of property rights by allowing and supporting more than 1,500 illegal “takings” of farms, and by encouraging the “taking” of hundreds of industrial and commercial establishments in order to later seize them or illegally place them in receivership and thereby, through looting, establish state control over the economy; this has been one of the determining causes of the unprecedented decline in production, the scarcity of goods, the black market and suffocating rise in the cost of living, the bankruptcy of the national treasury, and generally of the economic crisis that is sweeping the country and threatening basic household welfare, and very seriously compromising national security;

g) It has made frequent politically motivated and illegal arrests, in addition to those already mentioned of journalists, and it has tolerated the whipping and torture of the victims;

h) It has ignored the rights of workers and their unions, subjecting them, as in the cases of El Teniente [one of the largest copper mines] and the transportation union, to illegal means of repression;

i) It has broken its commitment to make amends to workers who have been unjustly persecuted, such as those from Sumar, Helvetia, Banco Central, El Teniente and Chuquicamata; it has followed an arbitrary policy in the turning over of state-owned farms to peasants, expressly contravening the Agrarian Reform Law; it has denied workers meaningful participation, as guaranteed them by the Constitution; it has given rise to the end to union freedom by setting up parallel political organizations of workers.

j) It has gravely breached the constitutional guarantee to freely leave the country, establishing requirements to do so not covered by any law.

11. That it powerfully contributes to the breakdown of the Rule of Law by providing government protection and encouragement of the creation and maintenance of a number of organizations which are subversive [to the constitutional order] in the exercise of authority granted to them by neither the Constitution nor the laws of the land, in open violation of article 10, number 16 of the Constitution. These include community commandos, peasant councils, vigilance committees, the JAP, etc.; all designed to create a so-called “popular authority” with the goal of replacing legitimately elected authority and establishing the foundation of a totalitarian dictatorship. These facts have been publicly acknowledged by the President of the Republic in his last State of the Nation address and by all government media and strategists;

12. That especially serious is the breakdown of the Rule of Law by means of the creation and development of government-protected armed groups which, in addition to threatening citizens’ security and rights as well as domestic peace, are headed towards a confrontation with the Armed Forces. Just as serious is that the police are prevented from carrying out their most important responsibilities when dealing with criminal riots perpetrated by violent groups devoted to the government. Given the extreme gravity, one cannot be silent before the public and notorious attempts to use the Armed and Police Forces for partisan ends, destroy their institutional hierarchy, and politically infiltrate their ranks;

13. That the creation of a new ministry, with the participation of high-level officials of the Armed and Police Forces, was characterized by the President of the Republic to be “of national security” and its mandate “the establishment of political order” and “the establishment of economic order”, and that such a mandate can only be conceived within the context of full restoration and validation of the legal and constitutional norms that make up the institutional framework of the Republic;

14. That the Armed and Police Forces are and must be, by their very nature, a guarantee for all Chileans and not just for one sector of the Nation or for a political coalition. Consequently, the government cannot use their backing to cover up a specific minority partisan policy. Rather their presence must be directed toward the full restoration of constitutional rule and of the rule of the laws of democratic coexistence, which is indispensable to guaranteeing Chile’s institutional stability, civil peace, security, and development;

15. Lastly, exercising the role attributed to it by Article 39 of the Constitution,


First: To present the President of the Republic, Ministers of State, and members of the Armed and Police Forces with the grave breakdown of the legal and constitutional order of the Republic, the facts and circumstances of which are detailed in sections 5 to 12 above;

Second: To likewise point out that by virtue of their responsibilities, their pledge of allegiance to the Constitution and to the laws they have served, and in the case of the ministers, by virtue of the nature of the institutions of which they are high-ranking officials and of Him whose name they invoked upon taking office, it is their duty to put an immediate end to all situations herein referred that breach the Constitution and the laws of the land with the goal of redirecting government activity toward the path of Law and ensuring the constitutional order of our Nation and the essential underpinnings of democratic coexistence among Chileans;

Third: To declare that if so done, the presence of those ministers in the government would render a valuable service to the Republic. To the contrary, they would gravely compromise the national and professional character of the Armed and Police Forces, openly infringing article 22 of the Constitution and seriously damaging the prestige of their institutions; and

Fourth: To communicate this resolution to His Excellency the President of the Republic, and to the Ministers of Economy, National Defense, Public Works and Transportation, and Land and Colonization.

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