SANTIAGO – Indigenous leaders demand to be included if a new Constitution is drafted. A first draft for the possible constituent process was published without agreement on indigenous representation. Renaico mayor Juan Carlos Reinao urged the government saying “a new Carta Magna cannot exist without [the participation of] indigenous people.”
The Technical Advisory Commission, which draws from all political parties, reached a first draft of the constituent process that focuses on a “constitutional itinerary” towards a possible new Constitution. The document, however, does not say anything about the participation of indigenous communities in the drafting of a new Constitution.
The opposition announced they will try to solve the issue by trying to pass bills in the following weeks.
Democratic Independent Union (UDI) Deputy Álvaro Carter suggested the creation of a list of indigenous communities to participate in the constituent process. However, the list members and their participation quorum are still uncertain, leaving the indigenous representation issue unresolved.
The resulting draft will be sent to political party leaders and Congress over the course of the next week, while remaining representation issues should be sorted out by Dec. 28.
The Struggle for Representation
Mapuche, Rapa Nui, and Aymara mayors gathered in the United Nations headquarters in Santiago after the announcement by the commission, to take a stand against the lack of consensus. They presented their own proposal for what they consider a fair indigenous participation in the constituent process.
The Mapuche Mayors Municipality Association (AMCAM) president Juan Carlos Reinao – who is also mayor of Reinaico – told BioBioChile that indigenous people have the “obligation to participate in the construction of nations recognized by the Chilean government.” Reinao added that “a new Carta Magna cannot exist [without the participation] of indigenous people.”
In the meeting, Reinao, Rapa Nui mayor Pedro Edmunds (Rapa Nui), Colchane mayor Javier García Choque (Aymara), and Chol Chol mayor Luis Huirilef (Mapuche) took part. The indigenous leaders also asked the UN for support for their proposal.
A no rendirse. Los alcaldes Pedro Edmunds Paoa de Rapa Nui (Rapanui), Javier García Choque de Colchane (Aymara), Luis Huirilef de Chol Chol (Mapuche) y Juan Carlos Reinao de Renaico (Mapuche) anunciaron en @ONUChile que seguirán batallando por escaños reservados en Constituyente. pic.twitter.com/uXwA6c0kao
— Pedro Cayuqueo (@pcayuqueo) December 6, 2019
A Plurinational and Intercultural State
The indigenous leaders in Chile have a particular demand: a Plurinational and Intercultural State, where indigenous people have the right to represent themselves as a nation before the Chilean government.
In an interview with La Vanguardia, Edmunds said, “It is time to tear down these lies. We are not a people; we are nations within a state.” In the same interview, the AMCAM president added, “We want … that the [writing] of a new Carta Magna includes indigenous communities, with special reserved seats.” Huirilef added to Edmuns words, saying, “[This is so the government] gives us the place we deserve, which the Chilean state should have given us decades ago.”
The indigenous authorities said they would send their final proposal to Congress soon.
The opposition reached general agreements on female representation, but this, too, initially was not included by the commission.
According to Renovación Nacional (RN) president Mario Desbordes, the plan is to set a minimum quorum of 45% (and a maximum of 55%) seats for women representatives in the possible constituent body. The idea is still being discussed.
Camila Huecho is a journalism student at Universidad de La Frontera in Temuco, currently interning at Chile Today. As a freelance illustrator and Fellow at the Melton Foundation, she works to bring information and cultures together through communications and art.