President Sebastián Piñera proposed to postpone the election of the drafters of Chile's new Constitution until mid-May, arguing for health reasons at a time when the country is experiencing its worst days since the arrival of the coronavirus.
The president said that he would send his proposal to Congress on Monday so that the elections scheduled for April 10 and 11 in Chile are held until May 15 and 16.
Said Piñera from La Moneda, It's a tough decision, but we have to take it. We're pretty sure it's the best decision for Chileans and Chile, citing two reasons for this: "to protect the health and life of all" and "protect the health of our democracy.
The occupation of beds in intensive care units is around 95%. Daily infections average 7,400 cases, unprecedented figures in the South American country.
There is no doubt that the current epidemic situation and the risk of epidemics prevent many from voting, which reduces participation and legitimacy.There is no doubt that the current epidemic situation and the risk of contagious disease prevent many from voting, which reduces the participation and legitimacy of constituencies in the electoral process mayors, councilors, and governors," added the president.
He indicated that the decision was made after listening to the COVID 19 Expert Council, the Ministry of Health, and the Medical Council, which unanimously recommended suspending the elections.
The Ministry of Health reported more than 7,300 new infected on Sunday, a figure higher than the 6,938 registered last June. It specified that, of the 3,579 beds of enabled intensive care units, more than 2,500 are occupied by patients with COVID- 19. There are patients with other pathologies in just under a thousand more, and there are only 165 available.
It is the fourth consecutive day that the number of infections exceeds 7,000 cases.
Another fact that reflects the serious Chilean health situation was registered on Sunday at the Carlos van Buren hospital, in the neighboring port of Valparaíso, which reported that, due to the increase in patients received over the weekend, another sector of the site had to be enabled to place the corpses awaiting burial.
The Piñera government resisted until the weekend to propose the postponement of the simultaneous elections of mayors, councilors, governors, and the 155 people who will draft the new Constitution, but was forced to change its opinion due to the persistence of the severe sanitary indices and as the voices of experts who advocated the suspension increased. Initially, the majority of government and opposition politicians were also opposed to postponing the elections.
An overwhelming majority of Chileans (78%) decided in the historic referendum of October 25 to leave behind the Magna Carta of 1980, inherited from the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
Previously, in a desperate attempt to stop the contagion and maintain the elections, the government imposed a quarantine in 198 of the 346 communes of the country. In another 89, it set a lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays. Sixteen million of the 19 million Chileans are under total confinement.
However, the authorities' permits for the movement of essential company personnel and other individuals in specific cases allow a couple of million people to continue to mobilize. Public transport kept running.
The president of the Medical College of Chile, Izquia Sichez, said on Friday that the medical community is afraid of not treating or hospitalizing those who need it. For its part, the Ministry of Health's advisory committee warned on the same day that, unanimously, "we consider that carrying out the election in this context may aggravate the situation," which is described as "critical."
Chile has vaccinated more than 6.4 million people in less than two months, more than half of them with the second doses, and most older adults, but it is still too early for its effects to be observed in sanitary indices.
The country, which registers more than 970,000 infected and more than 22,000 deaths, plans to immunize 15 of its 19 million inhabitants before the end of June.