POLITICS Presidential Elections Sin categoría

From Schneider to Campillai: the new faces in Chile’s Congress

Chile’s recent general elections surprised at all levels. Several candidates with remarkable backgrounds were elected to Congress. Five of them stand out. 

The general elections last Sunday catapulted several candidates with special backgrounds into Congress. Among them are a victim of police violence, a transgender activist, but also a misogynist.

Fabiola Campillai (Senate)

Campillai won most votes of all Senate candidates in Metropolitan region, which is a remarkable achievement. She hails from the low-income San Bernardo district and ran as independent on a small budget and without support of any political party. Campillai turned into the most well-known victim of police violence during the 2019 protests, after a teargas cannister hit her in the face in a November night while on her way to work. Due to the cannister’s impact, Campillai lost her vision, her smell and taste. Her mutilated face became a symbol of human rights violations in Chile. That a victim of these violations from the poorer parts of the country wins a seat in the Senate signals that, despite the disappointment some left voters may feel, Chile has changed.

Emilia Schneider (Lower House)

Another sign that society is becoming more inclusive is the election of transwoman Emilia Schneider to the Lower House. Schneider has been one of the most vocal activists for the trans community in recent years and became the first trans woman to get elected president of student organization Fech. Schneider was the spokesperson of Asamblea Feminista 8M, a feminist movement leading several marches for women rights. Previously, she ran for a seat at the Constitutional Convention, but wasn’t elected. Her successful bid for parliament, however, is a strong sign: it’s the first time a trans person was elected to the Chilean Legislative.

Also read:

Diverse Chile: A need for trans voices 

Lorena Fries (Lower House)

Part of Gabriel Boric’s presidential campaign, Switzerland-born Lorena Fries is everything but a new face in Chilean politics. She served as Undersecretary of Human Rights in the second Bachelet administration and previous to that two terms as director of the National Institute for Human Rights, which Boric’s opponent, José Antonio Kast, wants to shut down. With Fries, Chilean gets an outstanding human rights expert. Fries wrote six books about human rights and studied International Human Rights at Oxford University.

Johannes Kaiser (Lower House)

In recent days, the name Johannes Kaiser became a main focus of the news. Kaiser, brother of commentator and neoliberal firebrand Axel Kaiser, was elected on the ticket of Kast’s Republican Party. Days after his election, videos and tweets emerged in which Kaiser made the most controversial and misogynist comments. Questioning women’s right to vote, calling migrants rapists, among other things, Kaiser went viral. When called out, he resorted to the usual excuse, claiming the comments were out of context and meant to be sarcastic. But journalists unearthed older tweets, in which he said rape victims also carry some blame. Kaiser deleted his Twitter account and resigned from the Republican Party one day later. Whether he can keep his seat in parliament, remains to be seen.

Gloria Naveillan (Lower House)

For those following rural violence in southern La Araucanía region, Naveillan is no new face. She serves as the spokeswoman of the Association for Peace and Reconciliation in La Araucanía, an organization that represents landowners in the south and, despite its name, has been subject of an investigation into far-right terrorism. In recent years, several audio messages of Naveillan have emerged in which she disparages the indigenous Mapuche with racist slurs. More recently, when a mob stormed the Curacautín municipality building, which was occupied by Mapuche protesters, police found that Naveillan played a key role gaslighting the mob and instigating the attack. She received the fewest of all votes in her district but managed to get into parliament because she was on the electoral list of UDI party.

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