Chilean feminist group 'Las Tesis' lead protest over constitution

Santiago (AFP) –

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A crowd of women dressed in mourning marched in the Chilean port city of Valparaiso Wednesday for a symbolic funeral for the country's constitution - a bit of political theater led by the female theater troupe "Las Tesis."

With 11 days to go before a referendum on whether Chileans want to replace the constitution dating from the era of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), the four women of "Las Tesis" called on women of all ages to dress in black and join the demonstration.

The theater troupe is famous for their creation in 2019 of "A Rapist in your Path," which was performed around the world to denounce male violence. Time magazine recently included them among the 100 most influential people of the year.

Marchers in Valparaiso carried posters depicting the cover of Chile's constitution, imposed in 1980 by Pinochet, and wrote on it words that they believed should also be eradicated from the document.

"At first the idea was to throw the constitution into the sea, but later it became an event in which we wanted to throw into the sea all the negative concepts for the female figure," said Cecilia Alba, one of the Valparaiso marchers.

"Each woman wrote 'patriarchy,' 'femicide,' 'inequality,' 'differences in the laws' and everything that women suffer from," Alba told AFP.

One woman after another threw the posters on to the deck of a ship that would later set sail for the open sea.

"The objective was for each one to carry a notebook and to walk together, singing a spell, which symbolizes the sisterhood that represents us as female," said Fernanda Rodriguez, another of the participants.

The constitution was a major target of protests that erupted in Chile in 2019, with demonstrators insisting it was at the origin of the stark economic inequalities that drove them out on to the streets.

On October 25, Chileans will decide in a plebiscite whether or not to draft a new constitution.