A Mapuche woman chosen to lead the architects of the new Chilean constitution
SANTIAGO, July 4 (Reuters) – Delegates on Sunday selected an indigenous Mapuche majority woman from Chile to guide them in drafting the country’s new constitution – a dramatic turnaround for a group that is not recognized in the settlement current country.
Elisa Loncon, 58, independent politician, is a professor at the University of Santiago and activist for the educational and linguistic rights of the Mapuche. It was chosen by 96 of the 155 men and women, including 17 indigenous people, who make up the constitutional body which will draft a new text to replace the previous magna carta of Chile produced during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
Loncon accepted the post with a closed fist over his head, telling his colleagues during noisy celebrations: “I greet the people of northern Chile to Patagonia, from the sea to the mountains, to the islands, all who we look today, “she said.
“I am grateful for the support of the various coalitions who placed their trust and their dreams in the hands of the Mapuche nation, who voted for a Mapuche person, a woman, to change the history of this country.”
His election represents a climax in a day of great drama which included the suspension of the swearing-in of delegates after protests outside and inside the venue, and clashes with police forced the postponement of the event.
Problems arose after marches organized by independent, left-wing and indigenous groups setting up delegates for the constitutional body, as well as other interest groups, encountered heavily armed police holding barricades in the area. exterior of the former Santiago congress building where the ceremony was taking place.
Delegates inside the event then protested with organizers against the brutal police tactics, beating drums and shouting over a classical youth orchestra playing the national anthem.
Amid delegates’ demands for the police to withdraw from the “repressive” special forces, the head of the electoral tribunal presiding over the ceremony agreed to suspend the event until noon.
The crash underscored the intense challenges for drafting a new magna carta amid deep divisions that still simmer after Chile was torn apart by massive protests that began in October 2019 against inequality and elitism and were fueled by a fierce response from the police.
The constitutional body was chosen by popular vote in May and is dominated by independent and left-wing candidates, some with roots in the protest movement, with a smaller share of more conservative candidates backed by the current government of Center-right.
Delegates pledged to address topics such as water and property rights, central bank independence and labor practices, causing investor nervousness over potentially significant changes in the free market system. the world’s largest producer of copper.
Prior to the start of the ceremony, Aymara and Mapuche delegates held spiritual ceremonies with song and dance in the downtown streets surrounding the organization’s new headquarters and on a nearby hill.
Not recognized in the current constitution, they hope that a new text will offer their nations new cultural, political and social rights.
The commission has up to a year to agree on a common regulation, establish committees and draft a new text.
Leandro Lima, Southern Cone analyst for Control Risks, said the independents brought “legitimacy” to the process given Chileans’ deep mistrust of established politics, but a lack of experience in policymaking and deep ideological divisions could lead to critical delays in the drafting of the text itself. .
Reporting by Aislinn Laing Editing by Marguerita Choy and Diane Craft
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.