- BBC News World
In a decision loaded with symbolism and a reflection of the spirit of the new Constituent Convention inaugurated this Sunday in Chile, Elisa Loncón was elected president of the body that must draft a new Constitution.
The 155 members of the Constituent Assembly that will make the new Constitution of Chile elected Loncón, a 58-year-old indigenous woman, this Sunday to preside over the body that will create the new Magna Carta, which must replace the current one, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
Loncón, a Mapuche teacher, linguist and activist – the majority indigenous ethnic group in Chile – was elected by an absolute majority (96 votes) in the second round at the opening session of the Convention, which was stopped for almost an hour due to the protest of a group of constituents after the clashes in the center of Santiago between police and protesters.
“You can dialogue with us, don’t be afraid of us, because the politics of fear has also been installed a lot. In other words, an indigenous, Mapuche candidate is installed and there is a lot of prejudice. So, this is also a call to free ourselves from our lives. prejudices and interact on equal terms, “Loncón said in a recent interview with the Chilean newspaper” LaTercera. “
The agreement between parties is that the presidency of the Convention will rotate, although it is not yet defined how long each term would last as head of the assembly.
“In these moments in which all the peoples expect the best of us, I appreciate the support granted so far. Together we will be able to build the plurinational Chile we dream of,” Loncón said on his twitter account this Sunday.
Born in Traiguén in the region of La Araucanía, in southern Chile, a Mapuche stronghold, Loncón lived her childhood in the Lefweluan community. The constituent recently reported in an interview with the Spanish newspaper “El País” that to go to school “she had to travel eight kilometers from her home in the Mapuche community,” a journey that she often did on foot.
Most of his family still live in that community
She graduated as an English teacher at the University of La Frontera, in La Araucanía, and has postgraduate studies at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague and at the University of Regina in Canada.
He also holds a doctorate in humanities from the University of Leiden and a doctorate in literature from the Catholic University.
His election is symbolic because one of the main debates to draft the new Magna Carta is the recognition of indigenous peoples
The definition of rights for native communities and the debate on a plurinational State is one of the fundamental themes of the Convention.
The Constitutional Convention installed this Sunday incorporates 17 indigenous representatives belonging to the ten original Chilean peoples recognized by the State, among them, the Mapuches, Aymara, Quechuas and Diaguitas.
Among the demands of these communities is that of creating a plurinational State, with which their autonomy and rights are accepted. In addition, they raise the need for guarantees in territorial terms and the recognition of their culture and language, among other things.
“This is a big issue, which will cost, where a lot of historical repair will have to be done. And obviously it is complicated, because it touches property rights. But it is fundamental. The New Zealand and Canadian models are the most interesting,” he proposed ago a few weeks in conversation with BBC Mundo Juan Pablo Luna, Doctor in Political Science and professor at the Catholic University of Chile.
Chile and Uruguay are among the few countries in Latin America that lack explicit recognition of indigenous peoples in their Fundamental Charter.
On the other side are Bolivia and Ecuador, two nations that not only recognize these peoples, but have chosen to enshrine the plurinational character of the State in their Constitutions.
Luna says that the result on the inclusion of rights guaranteed and recognized in the Constitution for indigenous communities does not represent only a strong symbolic effect.
“There are several countries in Latin America that have incorporated these rights and that today they become justiciable, as is the case in Brazil or Colombia, where health begins to be litigated in courts from its recognition as a constitutional right,” he recalls.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.