The race to La Moneda ends on Sunday, Dec. 19. Chile’s indigenous peoples have gained quite a bit of ground politically in the last year. What policies do the presidential candidates offer with respect to indigenous peoples and territories?
This year, Chile’s indigenous people have been celebrated nationally and internationally with Constitutional Convention president Elisa Loncón named one of the most influential women of the year by the Financial Times and awarded the 2021 René Cassin Prize for Human Rights. The Financial Times said it was recognizing the work and leadership of a “hero.”
Loncón, the first Mapuche representative-elect, is not alone in making headlines as courts across the country ruled in favor of indigenous peoples reclaiming their ancestral lands in various cases. Many of the territories were sold through expropriation to companies during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
In addition, indigenous peoples from around the world were able to voice their concerns at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland this year. Among them were Chile’s Mapuche Pehuenche communities who gained notoriety and wide support in their fight against excavation companies and energy projects developers.
With all this montenum this year, what do the presidential candidates have to offer indigenous peoples and territories?
Boric’ programs reads as an extension of the accomplishments achieved by indigenous peoples and communities this year. For his part, the Apruebo Dignidad standard-bearer proposes to adopt legislation and institutions that will allow the new constitution to include indigenous matters.
According to his program, one such goal is the implementation of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 1989 which outlines the rights of indigenous peoples. The international treaty also recognizes their social, cultural, and linguistic rights as well as intellectual heritage.
As president, Boric would seek to improve the ability of indigenous people to exercise their right to autonomy. “We propose as a State to conduct actions aimed at recognizing and promoting the rights(… to choose their authorities and resolve their own affairs, promoting good living.”
Territorial restitution in the form of reclamation of ancient lands and access to natural assets are also included in his proposed dialogue. Boric also hopes to promote the protection of biodiversity and better water management in indigenous lands affected by development projects. His program highlights marine and mining areas as key areas of focus with various adaptations to current legislation being proposed to achieve his aims.
José Antonio Kast
The Christian Social Front candidate refers to the nation’s indigenous population only once in his new presidential program. While proposing policies that could also benefit indigenous peoples and their communities such as the creation of new entities for the “protection, rescue and rehabilitation” of wildlife, Kast only seeks to boost the cultural aspect of indigenous communities.
“We will promote the cultural activity of the indigenous communities to collect stories, traditions, music, design and languages, facilitating its distribution through books, audiovisual material, flexible and representative expressions, such as theater, dance and painting, to dignify our heritage, emphasizing early childhood.”
Kast also hopes to “recover” national holidays regardless of their background (religious, secular, indigenous, etc.) with the aim of “deepening” the historical and cultural heritage knowledge of the nation.
Emmanuela is an International Relations and Modern Languages student from the Univeristy of East Anglia. Human Rights is of key interest to her as are culture, politics and sports.