The country’s efforts to create a new constitution could serve as a model or warning for tackling climate change and inequality.
Constanza San Juan is feeling optimistic. She sits on a committee of Chile’s constitutional convention that on Feb. 1 voted to nationalize the country’s mineral wealth—its deep veins of copper, lithium, magnesium, and silver—a notion that has mining companies and markets hyperventilating.
The idea is sufficiently radical that few believe it will be endorsed by the required two-thirds of the full convention. But San Juan, a 36-year-old historian, not only hopes it will—she wants it to go further.
In her view, the problem isn’t that Chile, dubbed the cradle of neoliberalism, is contemplating state control of resources. It’s that people still envision its future as based on mining rather than green endeavors. Her wish list also includes better pensions, health care, and education.
Asked during a break between sessions where the money for all that would come from, she said, “We’ll have to see. The reason I came here is to bring structural changes to our economic model.”