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Podcast / October 25 2022

Chileans wanted a new constitution—but negotiators failed them

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When Chileans were asked in a referendum in 2020 whether they wanted a new constitution, the response was overwhelming. The current one dated back to the rule of Augusto Pinochet, the military dictator who had stepped down more than three decades earlier. Nearly 80 percent of the population voted in favor of a negotiation that would lead to a new charter for the country.

But the negotiation process—which included representatives from the left and right side of the political map, along with dozens of independents—was rocky from the start. Delegates introduced many lofty ideas, but the actual give-and-take required to produce a consensus was missing. Voters rejected a draft of the new constitution in September by a large margin.

This week, we examine what went wrong, with the help of John Bartlett, a reporter based in Santiago, Chile. Bartlett covered the constitutional convention and interviewed many of the key players.

Full Transcript

Note: We encourage you to listen to the audio if you are able, as it includes emotion not captured by the transcript. Please check the corresponding audio before using any quotes.




JENN WILLIAMS, HOST: From Doha Debates and Foreign Policy, welcome to The Negotiators. I’m Jenn Williams. 


This week on the show, we’re looking at a recent effort by the left and the right in Chile to negotiate a new constitution. Even if you don’t know much about Chile, you probably remember Augusto Pinochet. He’s the military dictator who ran the country for almost two decades. He left the scene in 1990 during the country’s transition to democracy. But a lot of the social conditions that existed under Pinochet never really went away. And in October 2019, demonstrators took to the streets in huge numbers across Chile to protest the high cost of living and a bunch of other things. So politicians then proposed a constitutional referendum, largely to try to meet the demands of the protesters. Now, much of the current constitution in Chile dates back to the 1980s, the Pinochet dictatorship times. So here was a chance for Chileans to finally put the legacy of polarization between the left and the right behind them. 


So voters eventually elected delegates to this constitutional convention that was tasked with negotiating and ultimately writing a new constitution. And they agreed to have an equal percentage of women and men, and they guaranteed a number of seats for people from Indigenous backgrounds. So those delegates spent a year negotiating the big and small ideas that should go into this brand new constitution. And they finally came up with a draft this past July. Some called it the most progressive constitution ever: holding the state responsible for climate change, recognizing Indigenous peoples for the first time, and making gender parity law, among other things. But when Chileans went to the polls to vote on the document in September of this year, they rejected it by a large margin. 





In Chile, a major setback for the country’s new leftist president, Gabriel Boric. 



It was an overwhelming turnout and an overwhelming rejection by Chileans of a new constitution billed as being one of the world’s most progressive. 


JENN: So what went wrong? To help us answer that question, we partnered with reporter John Bartlett. He’s based in Santiago, Chile and writes for Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, the Guardian, among other places. Bartlett covered the protests and then the Constitutional Convention. 


OK. So tell me what led up to the October 2019 protests. 



Yeah, for a long time, there was a sort of bubbling discontent in Chile. I think it’s still there. I think there’s, you know, the sort of resentment and the unfinished business of the dictatorship years. The Pinochet dictatorship ended in 1990 with a relatively smooth handover to democracy under President Aylwin. But towards the end of the, sort of, the second decade of the 2000s, we were—there was a general sense that inequality had risen again, that the rich were the ones who were dictating the sort of political, economic, cultural course of the country—a sense that perhaps had never really gone away, but it really crescendos towards 2019. And the rising cost of living, the inadequacy of people’s pension provisions, the idea that state services were not, were not good enough, that generally the, sort of—you know, the living conditions weren’t what were promised with the return to democracy, that things hadn’t really changed. The slogan that came with the plebiscite in 1988—which was written by an advertising campaign, but—it was this idea that joy was coming. You know, if we vote against General Pinochet, joy is on its way; that, you know, Chile can return to being, you know, a kind of happy, free country. And by October 2019 and the years preceding those protests, I think people had started to say, “Well, you know, we’ve waited 30 years and the joy still hasn’t arrived. So we’ve got to go out into the streets to…to claim it ourselves.” 


So that was the situation we came to with the protests in 2019. And they started out with a relatively common student, high school student, protest against the metro fare rise. But that was very much a sort of superficial trigger to a much—a much, kind of, deeper problem, which was very much to do with inequality and—and the, sort of, the comparison between, kind of, living standards and expected living standards in Chile. 


JENN: I remember covering the 2019 protests as an editor, but from, from Washington. To me, you know, living in the US, where our, you know [CHUCKLES]—public transportation is not necessarily what we’re known for, let’s just say that. To me, it was like, “Oh, that’s interesting that that would be the thing that set it off.” And I remember seeing, like, these scenes and just, you know, images, photos and video of just, like, the metro stations themselves being torched and—and then it just, like, snowballed, like you said, and became about so many other issues. 


JOHN: I mean, we still don’t really know what happened that night, how that, kind of, relatively—relatively commonplace protest of high school students jumping over ticket barriers turned into tens of metro stations around Santiago in flames. It was incredible to see. I mean, it was, it was bewildering. People didn’t really know what to make of it. There seemed to be some kind of, you know, kind of coordinated action behind it that wasn’t schoolchildren in their uniforms jumping over turnstiles. You know, there was something bigger happening. But that night was the one that changed everything, I think. And we were building up to the 25th of October, the following Friday, which was known as “the March of the Million,” the, kind of, the biggest march in Chile’s history, where more than a million people—we don’t know exactly how many, but more than a million people—gathered in the central square in Santiago and basically raised all of these demands. And at that point, the government could no longer deny that this was something that was going to change the country. 


Up until that point, President Piñera had said that the country was at war with a powerful and uncompromising enemy. He’d come out, he’d imposed a state of emergency. We were living under curfew, which was obviously an incredible step to take. But we had this, you know, these echoes of the dictatorship as well. The curfew lasted for a long, a long time during the dictatorship. Those, kind of, restrictions on movement and assembly were commonplace. So, you know, we seemed to be going back to something that, you know, we never thought we would in Chile. We thought that democracy was here to stay and things had to change. And then when the heads of the major parties came together almost a month later to try and plot their way out of this, sort of, political malaise that we had, they ended up signing this peace accord, and it paved the way for a constitutional process. And that was effectively the political exit strategy, not the one that everybody was demanding, but that was kind of how the demands kind of came together. And people started to say that, “Well, maybe a new Magna Carta would be a way of, you know, kind of enshrining all of the demands that we’ve raised over the last month.” 


JENN: That makes more sense, because it was confusing to me why, you know, of all things, that— you know, a million protestors would all come together and go, “Constitution! That’ll solve it.” But that makes sense that that was the—politicos came together and said, “Let’s do this. Hopefully that’ll keep everyone, you know, happy.” So there’s—essentially the first step was, people elected representatives, right, to sit on this assembly who would then be tasked with drafting this new constitution. Is that—do I have that right? 


JOHN: Yeah. That first election for the delegates was held during the pandemic, right in the, you know, in the heart of lockdown. What it did was basically skew the electorate quite a lot, and the old people didn’t go out to vote. You know, it’s a bit of a generalization, but it’s largely what happened. Young people did, and we ended up with a, sort of, left wing—a left wing convention. That vote, as well, also lowered the barrier to the participation of independents, which was controversial at the time. But it did mean a lot of independent candidates got into politics, which is not a feature of Chilean political life. Since the return to democracy in 1990, there just haven’t been that many independents in the Senate or in the lower house of Congress. So that was new, as well. And we ended up, as I say, with a lot of inexperienced faces. 


JENN: Do you attribute that to the, kind of, demographic age breakdown? Are younger people more center and left and the older generation more conservative and right wing? Is that, kind of, what produced that, do you think? 


JOHN: Yeah, I think that’s fair to say. I’m not sure the exact breakdown of that vote and how it—and how it went. But I know that obviously because of the pandemic, it meant that the electorate was very skewed towards…yeah, towards younger people. 


One thing that was really important is that the left and the center-left, and the blocs that, kind of, ended up being the ones who wrote the constitution, made up more than two-thirds of the seats in the Congress. So the right wing were basically sidelined from the very beginning. They performed very poorly in that first vote for the delegates. And it meant that, ultimately, the only option they had was to kind of discredit and kind of undermine the work of the convention rather than participate so much in the actual voting, because they weren’t able to really affect the outcome of what got into the document. In Congress, it’s not like that at all. It’s far more balanced. It’s a divided Congress. So the idea overall is that the Constitutional Convention’s makeup didn’t even reflect the Congress, let alone the society, Chilean society, overall. And I think that that, perhaps, was the sort of seed of the problem in terms of the ideology of the product that they came to. 


JENN: And you spoke to one of those right-wing leaders, Marcela Cubillos. Tell us about her. 


JOHN: She’s been a renowned right-wing politician in Chile, very much part of the establishment— the, kind of, institutional right wing in Chile—for decades, ever since she was a student activist. So back in the late 1980s, she was one of the students who was, sort of, vehemently in favor of maintaining General Pinochet in power. So from then on, she’s been very much part of the right wing in Chile. She won election to the convention. And when we spoke, she was very keen to impress that this was a process that she did not feel that she’d ever really been part of, that they were sidelined from the very beginning. 





There was no negotiation. When we realized on Election Day, on May 16th, that we would not have a third of the convention, and that the moderate left did even worse than we did, we understood we would not be able to impose or force a negotiation. We didn’t have the votes. So it was up to those that were in control—that is, the most extreme left that had the two-thirds—to create a more inclusive draft. But they didn’t want to, not even before coming into the convention. There is not a single norm that came from negotiating with us, or that came from reaching a consensus that we could recognize ourselves in. And that’s very different from what happens in Congress, right? Where you reach agreements and issue laws, and sometimes there are things you don’t like and sometimes there are things you do, but you still work towards an agreement. 


JENN: So that’s really interesting, because I know that figures on the left were making similar arguments. They were saying that the right wasn’t interested in engaging. So you spoke to one of the key leaders, Elisa Loncón. Tell us about her. 


JOHN: Elisa Loncón is a linguist, a distinguished academic who studies around the world, in Mexico, in Belgium, as well, I think. You know, she speaks English. You know, she speaks the Mapuche language as well. And when the convention came together on the 4th of July, it took a lot of—a lot of rounds of voting to actually elect a president and a vice president. Elisa Loncón came out as the elected president to the convention. 





Lots of far-right representatives never even greeted me. They didn’t try to reach an agreement. They didn’t negotiate. So they just wrote the proposals between themselves, and so many were just a repetition of the old constitution. That was their purpose. Some of them were open for dialogue. In the Preamble Commission, for example, I worked with one of them, and he stayed until the very last minute setting up his preamble proposal. And I thought that was good. But there was self-exclusion from that front. They were not interested in negotiating and writing new norms, and they started a refusal campaign. 


JENN: OK. So those are some key players. I know you also spoke to the vice president of the convention, Jaime Bassa. He was a constitutional lawyer at the University of Valparaíso. [CHUCKLES] You definitely need one of those if you’re drafting a constitution, I imagine. Tell me about him. 


JOHN: He’s, you know, he’s very highly regarded. He’s been around this idea, this sort of idea of replacing the Pinochet constitution, or reforming the Pinochet constitution, for many years. He was almost the sort of, you know, steady hand on the rudder throughout the first six months of the protests, which were incredibly turbulent. I mean, kind of starting from scratch, he basically had to oversee this process of laying out a rulebook and saying, “This is how we are going to go about writing a new constitution.”





Nobody really knew what the Constitutional Convention was supposed to do. Of course, we all knew we needed to write a constitution, but that wasn’t enough. Writing a constitution is a very complex political action and a very complex practical procedure. So we obviously spent the first weeks just thinking about how to organize the convention, at least for the time being, while we drafted the norms and how to organize the sessions in a way that was more or less normal. 


JOHN: I mean, not many constitutional lawyers get to write a new constitution. Right? So—


JENN: Right. They’re usually studying the existing one. [LAUGHS]


JOHN: Exactly. So I thought it was fascinating to, kind of, go to him and say, kind of, you know, “What was it like?” He was quite, sort of, disarming in the way he described it as—I think he said it was like a kid, kind of, dreaming of being a footballer and ending up playing at the World Cup. You know? Like, it doesn’t happen to everyone, so.


JENN: The Constitutional World Cup. I like that. [JENN AND JOHN LAUGH]


JOHN: Yeah. And Chile got knocked out in the first round, but—yeah. 


JENN: Right, right. Fair enough. So those were some of the main delegates. There were also some pretty odd characters at the convention, too, though, right? Tell me about them. 


JOHN: We had a huge range of delegates. Some of the, kind of, famous faces from the protests were there. There was a woman who used to dress in a Pikachu outfit, the Pokémon from the Japanese animated series. She would wear this outfit, and she would go to the protest, and she would dance. And she kind of, you know, would attract quite a lot of attention and sort of a cult following. 


JENN: Did she wear the Pikachu costume to the constitutional assembly, or did she just come in regular dress? [CHUCKLES]


JOHN: Well, mostly in regular dress—




JOHN: But she also did wear it a couple of times. 




JOHN: And as you can imagine, that image really did the rounds in the media. 


JENN: Yeah. I’m sure the right wing had a field day with that one. [LAUGHS]


JOHN: Yeah, they really enjoyed that. She got stuck in a lift at one point, as well. That made the news. But there’s—a lot of things were—a lot of things were happening which really undermined the whole constitutional process. So she was in there as a sort of famous face from the protests from October 2019 onwards. 


Another one of those was Rodrigo Rojas Vade, who was a—ostensibly a campaigner for health care. He wanted better, kind of, rare-disease care. I used to see him all the time at the protests. He was always topless; he’d have slogans, kind of, scrawled across his chest, saying, kind of, you know, “Free Health Care,” you know, “Better Care for Rare Diseases”—that kind of thing. You know, he was bald. He had no eyebrows. He sometimes had a catheter running down into his shoe. It’s like a catheter coming out of his stomach. And he said that he had this, sort of, rare form of leukemia. That was his, kind of—the premise for his election. And nobody really questioned it at the protests. People kind of, you know, empathized with his condition and everything he’d been through in his, you know, sort of legitimate—legitimate cause for raising that concern. And yet, within a couple of months of the convention, an investigation by La Tercera, one of the main newspapers here, found that he didn’t have leukemia at all. He’d been shaving his head and shaving his eyebrows. And the catheter that he had at the protest was false. And it was a crushing—a crushing blow, I think, for the constitutional process. Because it really undermined everything, that we had this guy who, you know—basically the lie had spiraled out of control. And he was still there. And then at that point, there was no—there was no mechanism to get rid of him. I mean, they’d never—they’d kind of never thought of how you would get rid of a delegate who—who’d been elected. So he had to stay there. He stopped coming to the sessions, but he had to be, kind of, part of it. He had to keep getting paid, as well, as part of the, sort of, the monthly payment that the delegates were getting. That was a real blow early on, and the legitimacy of the convention never really recovered from that, I’d say. I think that was a really, really important thing to happen early on. 


JENN: And I remember going into the vote—at least from Washington, from my perspective in following this—you know, there was a lot of hope and a lot of optimism. And then I remember, all of a sudden, that kind of disappeared. And a lot of people started going, “I don’t think this is going to happen, guys.” So did you think it was going to pass? 


JOHN: I don’t know. In the, kind of, lead up to the vote—and people were asking me a lot, of course, kind of what I thought was going to happen, and I was kind of saying that no—there’s no, kind of, result that would surprise me. I was thinking that, kind of, 55-45 each way. 


I think personally, at times—kind of, you know, sort of looking back on how the process went—I was very close to it. I was, kind of, at the convention most of the time. I was always, kind of, talking to the delegates, and I was, kind of, within that glass box as well. There are times you don’t see how people are seeing this around the country. You don’t see that people actually have this idea that these people are complete clowns and they’re, and they’re not taking this job seriously, which was, which was why, actually—I went to a wedding in March this year and everyone was saying, like, “Oh, it’s so difficult that you have to be at this, kind of, circus the whole time, covering the convention. And it must be really horrible because these people aren’t taking it seriously.” I was thinking that, like, “Wow, that’s actually what it looks like from the outside.” Like, it didn’t look like that from where I was, but that’s because I was watching people, kind of, working long hours into the night, trying to understand how to write a constitution. You know, I was around all of these people the whole time who were taking their job seriously for the most part. But of course, I think it’s the minority that end up, kind of, dictating the narrative around a big body of people. A lot of the people who, you know—who have kind of, you know, given their opinion, and in the aftermath, have just said that the process was the problem. These people were not experts. They were not the ones that should be writing a new future for our country. And yeah, I mean, I think there was a poll that came out not long after—not long after the plebiscite, and about 40 percent of respondents, which was the highest proportion of any of the reasons given, said that they had rejected it because the process itself was poor. 


JENN: So what did go wrong with the process to write a new constitution in Chile? The three biggest reasons it failed, after the break. 




JENN: Welcome back to The Negotiators, a production of Doha Debates and Foreign Policy. I’m Jenn Williams. 


So before the break, we heard about how Chilean delegates went about negotiating a new constitution. The draft they came up with included some very progressive ideas, but Chileans ended up rejecting it in September of this year by a large margin. Some 62 percent voted against it. Now, that’s a pretty rare thing, actually. According to a global study, voters have approved new constitutions 94 percent of the time since the French Revolution. So why did Chile’s proposed new constitution ultimately fail? Well, according to John Bartlett, voters rejected the draft for three key reasons. First, there were too many independents elected to the Constitutional Convention. 


JOHN: So the involvement of independents, like I said, was very new for Chilean politics. Of course, political scientists are largely in favor of parties. That tends to be, kind of, how they envisage, kind of, political life. So I talked to a lot of analysts at the time who were saying that this wasn’t a good idea, kind of, getting all of these—all these, kind of, independents coming in. But what it ended up being was—it was more, kind of, these single-issue activists, and a lot of them were environmental campaigners. And what that did—just basically ended up with this huge amount of, kind of, gray noise around the process. It just—it was so difficult to channel all of these demands and have all of these things, kind of, brought up in a, kind of—an orderly and systematic way. And then the ones that didn’t end up getting into the draft constitution—that was, again, difficult. We ended up with a lot of, kind of, bad feeling around that. People were, kind of, left out of the negotiations. And negotiations are, you know, inherently very, very difficult to be part of. And you have to be very patient and very experienced. And a lot of these people weren’t. So I think that in that sense, we ended up with a lot of ill feeling around what got in and what didn’t get into the—into the draft document. 


JENN: That makes sense, right? Because if you’re a political party, you have a platform, right, where you’ve kind of already worked out where you stand on a whole host of issues, you know, from, you know, rights to environment to economic policy to—et cetera, et cetera. Whereas I imagine if you’re essentially a one-issue, you know, activist, and your one thing doesn’t make it in, then…“Yeah, that’s what I had. That’s what I came here for. And it didn’t get in.” 


And now, John, I want to ask you about another reason that you think this constitution didn’t pass: that it was too easy to introduce bills. Can you tell me about that? 


JOHN: Yeah. So the major impact on the process of having things introduced was that the public were able to, kind of, put their signatures to certain bills that were proposed. And if they went over a threshold, then they had to be included in the—at least in the conversations. That was very interesting, and that very much counted against the finished product, but also the process more generally. Because what you ended up with was—essentially, the right and a lot of the media were, kind of, undermining the process and saying that this is kind of a show, it’s a circus, it’s a kind of egocentric, sort of, free-for-all, basically. And that was given fuel by the introduction of bills that were never, ever going to make it into the conversation. I remember there was one that was put forward somewhere around the middle of the process which basically suggested dissolving all organs of the state, all institutions, and forming this one, sort of, pluri-national bureau in the center, which would, you know—it’s a very, kind of, Soviet, sort of, you know, idea of basically just, you know, running a, running a state. That was never going to get into the constitution. 


JENN: Right. Right. I imagine nobody was wild about that idea. [CHUCKLES]


JOHN: Exactly. And I’m not even sure if it got any votes in favor of it. I think maybe it got a few abstentions at best. But that ended up getting into the conversation because, you know—and as soon as it was part of the conversation, then the right were able to say, “Well, look at this,” you know, “these people are trying to destroy Chile. They’re trying to, kind of, melt down all of these—all our, kind of, grand institutions.” And there’s lots of pride in Chile’s constitutional history. And its, sort of, institutional stability. And they were able to say that, you know, “These people are not taking this seriously. They’re trying to reform this state along their own lines.” And that was the narrative which, I think, prevailed the whole way through. 


JENN: And finally, perhaps the most obvious reason this constitution failed: there wasn’t, ultimately, that much of a negotiation. 


JOHN: Yeah, I think that…the key word is “compromise.” I think that the way Chile went about it—and this is partly because of the makeup of the convention, I mean, it was elected democratically. I think you can’t argue with how it ended up, kind of, you know, the overall makeup as it—as it ended up. But the left and the center-left and the blocs that kind of, you know, kind of oppose the right in that sense, ended up with enough seats in the convention, basically, not to have to negotiate and compromise with the right if they didn’t want to. And it required quite a lot of, kind of, self-starting, sort of, self-censorship in that way, and actually going to the right and saying, “We need to include some of your things in this constitution, otherwise you’re not going to be included, and it is not a representative document.” That’s a simplistic way of saying that, essentially, the document that we ended up with was—there were only a handful of things that the right proposed that actually got into the eventual constitution. And the will to compromise—it was hamstrung, I think, by Chile’s history as well. I mean, these people very much thought that they’d never had a say before in politics. A lot of these people had said that, you know, “This is our chance. You know, if it’s not now, then it’s never. We’ve got to get as much of what we want in as possible.” And I think that the idea of compromising was kind of almost forgotten. You know, in future, if there’s any lesson from this—and this is one of the very few constitutions, as you mentioned, that hasn’t managed to pass having been drafted—then the lesson is to compromise and to negotiate as much as possible and make sure that all perspectives, at least in some way, are actually recognized and included in the finished document. Because if not, you end up with nothing. No progress. 


JENN: That’s really important to, kind of, note here, because, you know, obviously our show is called The Negotiators. And one of the things that I’ve learned personally—from, you know, the first season of the show and the episodes we’ve done so far and the conversations that I’ve had with people—you do have to have people who are not only willing but are, you know, there with the express purpose of sitting down and working out an agreement with, at times, their bitter enemies. Right? So I imagine that that must have been a stumbling block if people were not even speaking to each other in the hallways. 


You know, a lot of the conversations we’ve had—you know, when we talk about behind the scenes of these negotiations—there’s always this feeling that people were in this hotel room or in this conference room together for, like, a week or, you know, they were trying to see the other side’s perspective, and it sounds like that was really missing here. Do I have that right? 


JOHN: Yeah. And I think that that question gets to the core of the polarization in Chilean politics. I mean, this is not a new thing. The legacy of the dictatorship—one of them, really, is to divide people along those lines. And I think that certainly in October 2019, the protests almost kind of made those things less taboo to speak about. You know, these were the things that used to divide dinner tables, the idea that, you know, there were still more than 1,200 people who had disappeared in Chile. We don’t know their whereabouts. You know, there’s the bitterness and the hurt and the scars of the dictatorship have never truly healed, even though they’ve tried reparations programs. They’ve tried to, kind of, make some of these torture centers—they’ve tried to make them national monuments, for example. But many of them aren’t. I mean, like, a lot of these things are kind of really under wraps in Chilean society and still aren’t—still aren’t really spoken about. And I think that that division goes right to the top of politics. 


JENN: And so that brings me to my final question here, which is: where does Chile go from here? 


JOHN: Where we go from here is very difficult to know, because a month on, we’re still trying to negotiate these things in Congress. Boric has very little political capital to fall back on. It perhaps won’t be the transition that we all thought it was going to be. But it could still be one that reforms the current constitution. That’s one of the options. It could be one that ends up drafting or electing a new constitutional assembly, or a convention, to write a new constitution. That’s perhaps the favored option at the moment. And the other scenario is that nothing changes and the pressure cooker gets turned on again. But I think that that’s far less likely this time around, because the mandate against was so resounding. But that said, you know, polls have consistently shown that the people want a new constitution. They do want some kind of change, just not the change that they were offered. So I think that there will be change, but it’s…what change that’s going to be is very uncertain. 


JENN: That was John Bartlett, a journalist based in Santiago, Chile. For more of his work, you can visit his Twitter profile. The Negotiators is a partnership between Doha Debates and Foreign Policy. Our production team includes Rob Sachs, Rosie Julin, Claudia Teti, Japhet Weeks, Jigar Mehta, Amjad Atallah and Dan Ephron. Laura Rosbrow-Telem is the show’s senior producer. Thanks to Nelufar Hedayat, Govinda Clayton and James Wolley for helping create the show. A special thanks this week to Jimena Ledgard and Maria Ximena Aragon for helping us with the Spanish translations and mixing. And thanks to Jimena Ledgard, Diego Senior and Monica Ortiz for the voiceovers you heard.


Foreign Policy is a magazine of news and ideas from around the world, and we encourage you to subscribe. Just go to Doha Debates is a production of Qatar Foundation, where the most urgent issues of our time are discussed and debated. Tune in at 


On the next episode, progressive activists in the United States want a criminal reform bill, but they have to negotiate with conservatives to get it passed. 



Van just called me and he said, “You’re not going to believe who reached out to me.” And honestly, I was thinking it’d be, like, Oprah or somebody like that. And he’s like, “Jared Kushner.” 


JENN: That episode, coming up on The Negotiators. I’m Jenn Williams.