SANTIAGO (AP) – The Constitutional Convention elected a Mapuche academic and activist as its president on Sunday by inaugurating a historic session that began the debates to draft a new Fundamental Charter in Chile, to replace the one inherited by the Augusto dictatorship. Pinochet (1973-1990).
The election of Elisa Loncon could mark the route towards the search for a new constitutional framework that promotes a more egalitarian and respectful Chile with the ten native peoples of the South American nation, according to experts. The appointment came after the formal opening was held several hours late due to protests by radical groups that took place outside and inside the precinct where the elected constituents will meet in May.
Loncon, dressed in an indigenous costume, promised to legislate for native peoples, for the equality of women and for sexual diversity in her acceptance speech, which she first delivered in the language of the Mapuche people.
“Indigenous women are a fundamental piece for the re-founding of the country. We were always the last in history, today we are reborn together. Thanks to the women of all peoples, “Loncon said via Twitter, who pointed out that the new Chile will be” multinational and multilingual. ” The ceremony was broadcast in indigenous languages.
The beginning of the day was marked by protests that began when several hundred people passed through the protective fences of the former headquarters of the Chilean Congress that serves as the headquarters of the Convention in downtown Santiago.
The protesters shouted slogans formulated during the social outbreak of October 2019 and in which a more just and egalitarian Chile was demanded. In addition, they demanded the release of the people who were imprisoned during those prolonged demonstrations that have not yet received trial and whom they describe as political prisoners.
There is a part of the constituents that are more radical and that want to disassociate from the process all the current powers that rule in Chile — Legislative, Executive and Judicial — because they say they are governed by the 1980 Constitution, which is the one they seek to change. No members of any of these bodies participated in the events.
The protest was suppressed with water carts and tear gas by the police, to which the protesters responded by throwing stones at them. This caused a group of constituents to rise up in the room just when everything was ready for the opening, claiming that in Chile the repression of the demonstrations had been normalized and that the situation was unacceptable.
The rapporteur of the Elections Qualifying Court decided to suspend the session, which resumed three hours later.
“And the Pinochet Constitution is going to fall, and it is going to fall!”, Chanted several constituents with a festive air as they officially assumed their position and after reading the 155 names of the members who will be given the task in the coming months of rewrite the new Magna Carta of the South American country.
The 78 men and 77 women, including 17 indigenous representatives, were chosen by the citizens in the May 15 and 16 elections, making it the first joint Constitutional Convention in the world, according to experts. Among the constituents there are also a large number of independents and without ties to political parties.
The constituents will have nine months and an extension of three more to draft the new Constitution, which was one of the most repeated demands by Chileans during the social outbreak.