Thursday, July 7

Elisa Loncón, the Mapuche academic who will lead the discussion for the new Chilean constitution

It is counterintuitive, but the Araucanía Region, in Chile, is a bastion of the right. So Elisa loncon, born in the Mapuche Araucanian community of Lefweluan, has known since she opened her eyes the environment, the ideas, and the proceeding of the political formation that was always half the country, and that in the time of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1989) was the half who commanded. During the dictatorship, government officials drew up the Constitution plebiscited without alternative in 1981, and still in force with modifications. On Sunday, Loncon was the chosen. She will be the president of the Constitutional Convention that will debate, draft and approve a new Constitution for nine months. He will preside over one hundred and a half ‘conventional’ assembly members, mostly from the left, independents or representatives with a quota of native peoples, who will make a clean sweep of the Pinochetist text. The darkened and humiliated half of Chile will endow the country with a Fundamental Law to initiate a democratic political life. An Indian, Mapuche, university woman represents all levels of the national universe that Pinochet silenced with the 1973 coup.

The Constituent Convention is made up of 77 women and 78 men; Of these 155 delegates, 48 ​​are independent, 37 from the right-wing coalition close to the Piñera government, 17 belong to the indigenous peoples and the rest to the left and center-left. Elisa Loncón is the first member of the convention, face, face, bow, world figure of the future Chile without the burden of the ‘democracy controlled’ by the Armed Forces of the transition to the first government elected by vote after a decade and a half of dictatorship. But he will also be the one who presides over a body that will also leave behind 30 years of hegemony of a center-left Concertación so absent in the new constituent assembly, the first in the world with gender parity, as the forces and votes of the historical right heir to the Military government, de facto, is a symbol.

“It is something totally futuristic, it is like the dream of deeper transformation that this country needs … To move from this homogeneous, elitist, uninational country to recognize its diversity … That it is a woman and that it is Mapuche is like a symbol of hope “, says Teresa Valdés, sociologist and coordinator of the Gender and Equity Observatory. “This is an immeasurable subversion of the order and the imaginary for a traditional Chilean society.”

Her parents were farmers and carpenters, Elisa’s was the first generation to study, she the pioneer in higher education, to complete her years at the University of La Frontera with an English teaching diploma. Furthermore, he did his postgraduate studies in the Dutch institutional capital, The Hague, where he moved from linguistics to Social Sciences. That took her to the Canadian University of Regina, to a master, again in the area of ​​Linguistics, at the Mexican Autonomous University of Iztapalapa, to a doctorate in Humanities back in Holland, at the University of Leyden, and a second and more specialized doctoral degree in Literature, already repatriated, at the Pontifical Catholic University of Santiago. In the speech brief, eloquent, firmly argued for the acceptance of the position to which the discussions and votes of the Convention had elevated her, she used an ostensibly bilingual language: she greeted the populations and nations of Chile, the “people of Chile from the north to Patagonia , from lafken (the sea) to the mountain range. “In this way he made it clear that with the drafting of a new Fundamental Charter, to replace the one sealed during the Pinochet dictatorship, Chile begins the path towards a fundamental change.

Against the order of the dictatorship, against the party that succeeded it, and that it preserved, in spite of everything, an ideology where economic growth was a good and such a first and valuable objective that it made three decades of center-left and center-right governments willing to pay for it with a greater, and progressively more established, social inequality, the violence of the demand and the claim of the social outbreak of October 2019 was directed, where protests that demanded a fairer socioeconomic model occurred and that left more than 30 deaths and thousands of people injured and detained.

The new Constitution was the way in which the government of Sebastián Piñera tried to quell the protests. In a referendum, this form of Constitution was approved in October 2020 by more than 80% of those who went to vote. In May of this year, they voted who are who should write it. That Elisa Loncón presides over the Convention is an important gesture for Andrés Cuyul, an academic at the Faculty of Medicine of the Universidad de la Frontera, a member of a Mapuche organization that is dedicated to intercultural relations in the field of health. “It is a recognition of more than 200 years of demands to the Chilean State, for the recognition of political and territorial rights. It channels a demand that is the construction of a plurinational country, never again without indigenous peoples,” he said. saying in conversation with the German agency DW.

Aymaras – as is former Bolivian President Evo Morales, as is current Vice President David Choquehuanca – and Mapuches want to see a plurinational State enshrined in the Constitution as the Bolivian constituent assembly did in 2009. Before Loncón’s inauguration ceremony , which is a woman elected to the convention by virtue of parity and the indigenous quota, this electorate until now underrepresented in all Chilean institutions, and culturally subordinate when not marginalized, organized songs and spiritual bales in the streets neighboring the old headquarters of the Congress, in Santiago de Chile. The place is already another challenge to respect the decisions of Pinochet that are still in force. Because the dictator had decided to radiate the Legislative Power from the national capital city, and had transferred it to the port city of Valparaíso. Where it is still in session. For how long, a Constitutional Convention presided over by a Mapuche academic will decide.