Chile. For Elisa Loncon, “the next government will have to dialogue with the Convention”

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How do you assess the work accomplished by the Constituent Convention since its installation in Chile on July 4?

Elisa Loncon The Convention did not exist: we had to create the body, the institution, define standards, a mode of operation. We have set this new entity in motion. A new democratic form is being invented there: no force is in the majority alone; to move forward, we are forced to overcome our differences. We want the future constitution to reflect the transformations that this country needs to guarantee respect for the rights of citizens, peoples and nature: this is the mandate entrusted to us by the voters. Within the Assembly and outside, we have installed a language, relations of dialogue, intercultural dialogue, and we call on all the institutions of this country to also choose this path of dialogue for solve Chile’s problems.

Your election had a symbolic value: you are a woman, from the Mapuche people. What does this symbol say about changes in Chilean society?

Elisa Loncon In a situation of political crisis like the one we have to face in Chile, a dialogue has started between the social movements to build a unity anchored in specific social demands. This is where the idea of ​​a new Constitution took shape. And these social movements, while continuing to assume, each one, his own demands, began to walk together. This momentum was reflected in the composition of this Constitutional Convention, in a context of abysmal crisis of a representative democracy which keeps social movements at bay and pays little attention to citizens’ rights and social demands. Until then, those elected had been guided less by the common good and citizenship than by the defense of special interests.

The Mapuche movement, which has been claiming the rights of this original people for a very long time, has entered the scene in this dialogue between social movements and students, women and workers have made their own the Mapuche banner in their struggles against oppression; it was also a sign of recognition of the just struggle waged by the original nations. This is how my candidacy for the leadership of this Constitutional Convention was proposed. I was elected with the support of the left, independent sectors – the majority – feminists, sexual dissidents. Here is my reading of this historical process, born from the confluence of movements mobilized around the same demand, that of writing a new Constitution.

Racist and sexist attacks are violent against me. The people said they were 80% in favor of the new Constitution. This citizen expression must manifest itself firmly.

What do you think of the state of emergency declared in the southern zone, extended on the eve of the elections, and of the cycle of repression in the Araucan region against the Mapuche?

Elisa Loncon I believe this is an unfortunate decision, going against the needs of the country, which aspires to dialogue. This is a bad political signal: it testifies to the absence of proposals from this government in crisis, unable to respond to the political, cultural and territorial demands of the original peoples and of the Mapuche people in particular. Its only answer lies in militarization, in the presentation of this conflict as a problem of “terrorism”, of violence. These days, a young Mapuche has been killed again. Since 1999, 18 young Mapuche people have died in this conflict. They died because of the ineffectiveness of governments that refuse to recognize the rights of the Mapuche people. This repressive policy is not unrelated to the current electoral campaign: the right thinks it will collect more votes by maintaining the state of emergency, which restricts fundamental freedoms, violates human rights, and blocks the free movement of people.

If the electoral process, which must designate a new president and a new Parliament, were to give victory to the opponents of the very idea of ​​a new fundamental law, what would happen to this constituent process?

Elisa Loncon The next government, whatever it is, will have to dialogue with this Convention; he will have to support it in its work to give Chile a new Constitution; he will have to opt for dialogue and cooperation. Some sectors of the Chilean right have done a lot of harm, spreading lies about the role and work of this Convention, with a campaign of disinformation and violent racist and sexist attacks against me. The Chileans voted 80% in favor of this new Constitution. It is this citizen expression that must manifest itself firmly to keep this process alive.

How do you explain the rise of a political figure like that of José Antonio Kast, who embodies the call to order, the hatred of otherness, the nostalgia for dictatorship?

Elisa Loncon The emergence of this candidate can only be explained by the economic and political interests of the Chilean elite, which uses the media it possesses to position one of its members in the person of Kast. A campaign of disinformation, lies and manipulation has been deployed to place it at the top of the polls and block the changes to which Chile aspires. However, things have already changed, the country is different since the social uprising of 2019 which allowed to open this constituent process. Parity, the prospect of a plurinational state, decentralization, the rights of mother earth are at the center of the political debate now. A new Chile is taking shape: it will be a country that will no longer leave anyone behind, which will respect human dignity and will be able to guarantee reparations to all those whose human rights have been violated throughout its history, which will project itself as a less polarized society, attached to living together, concerned about the challenge posed by climate change. It is in this direction that we will move forward.

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