Mapuche woman at the head of the body that drafts the new constitution of Chile | Indigenous Rights News


The constitutional assembly chooses academic Elisa Loncon to lead the body that drafts a new text to replace the constitution of the Pinochet era.

The architects of Chile’s new constitution have chosen an indigenous Mapuche woman to lead the process, as was the country’s constitutional assembly. inaugurated Sunday in the capital, Santiago.

University professor and Mapuche educational and linguistic rights activist Elisa Loncon, a 58-year-old independent, was elected by 96 of 155 delegates, including 17 indigenous people, who make up the constitutional body.

The delegates were chosen to write a new text that would replace the old Magna Carta of Chile, that took place during the dictatorship of August Pinochet.

“I am grateful for the support of the various coalitions that put their trust and dreams in the hands of the Mapuche nation, which voted for a Mapuche person, a woman, to change the history of this country,” Loncon said.

Fed up with the political status quo and urging systemic reforms, Chilean voters in May chosen dozens of progressive, independent delegates to redraw the constitution, strikingly striking Conservative candidates who failed to get a third of the seats to veto any proposals.

“The idea of ​​this 155-member assembly is to try to encompass and represent all the various elements of Chilean society,” Daniel Schweimler of Al Jazeera reported from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Two-thirds of the assembly must approve each article of the new constitution, he explained. The body will have nine months, with a possible extension of three months, to draft a new document which will then be submitted to a referendum.

“No group is big enough to veto these articles at this time,” Schweimler said. “What we will see over the next nine months to a year are many negotiations; alliances, coalition formation, people trying to decide the best way forward. “

The previous version of Chile’s constitution, although amended over the past few decades, was widely unpopular and considered a source of social inequality.

The start of Sunday’s inaugural session was delayed several hours after protesters and a special police unit clashed in the streets of Santiago, near the site of the ceremony.

Protesters rallied as members of the constitutional assembly held their first session to draft a new constitution, in Santiago, Chile, on July 4. [Pablo Sanhueza/Reuters]

Demonstrations also took place in the nearby Piazza Italia, which emerged as the center of the mass social justice protests that erupted in 2019 and eventually led the country to establish the constitutional assembly.

“I really hope this process helps us build a country for everyone,” Carolina Vergara, a 47-year-old bank employee, told AFP news agency.

Experts he said At Jazeera before the session the biggest challenge that voters will have to face will be to build trust and learn to work together.

“We need to understand that we are facing something completely new for which we do not have the practice,” said independent member Malucha Pinto. “It’s a huge and beautiful challenge that we also face as a country in the future.”

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