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An ethnic Mapuche spiritual leader and a young Communist economist epitomize epochal change in Chilean politics, analysts say.
The first elections held in Chile since the massive social uprising of 2019, confirmed last weekend that demand for radical change of the country’s institutional, social and economic rules is deeply rooted and had not been tamed by brutal repression and the pandemic, as many -especially the traditional political establishment - had wrongly assumed.
Such fatal miscalculation made them act as if nothing had happened and people would obediently return to choose their representativea among the roster of same old guys who have ruled Chile since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990.
From winning elections across Chile to providing universal healthcare in Kerala, the Communist movement is proving itself more than capable of combating the latest capitalist crisis brought on by the #COVID19 pandemic. https://t.co/xb2M21jdsf
The dictator had left behind a Constitution and a neoliberal framework nobody wished, or dared to touch... until now. In last week’s elections, Chilean voters picked regional governors, mayors, city councils and, most important, a Constitutional Convention in charge of drafting a new Charter for the country. “The most important political event of these elections, in my opinion, is the communist victory in the municipality of Santiago, the heart of the Republic. A young woman of 30, Irací Hassler Jacob, an economist, is the first communist mayor of the former bastion of conservatism,” writes Manuel Cabieses, a respected left-wing political analyst. “The recognition of feminism as an essential factor in society will also be assured if the new Constitution proclaims the equal participation of women in all civilian and military bodies of the Republic”, he says. “It is not that the electorate of Santiago -made up of middle classes- has become communist. In the Constitutional Convention the CP reached only 4%. What is happening is that former rivals of the CP in the Left and thousands of fearful centrists, have joined the communist candidate unconditionally and without any qualms.” Hassler, a former student leader and Santiago city council member for the past four years, became mayoral candidate at primary elections held by left-wing movements and social organizations. She defeated incumbent Gustavo Alessandri, heir of a traditional conservative family closely intertwined with the country’s political life. Two Alessandri, father and son, held the post of President in the 20th century. A Mapuche spiritual leader On the other hand, writes political commentator and academician Gustavo González, “perhaps no one symbolizes like Francisca Linconao the change that is beginning to open up in Chile after the elections of May 15 and 16.” “Machi Francisca Linconao is 62 years old and was in 2009 the first indigenous woman in Chile to win a lawsuit based on Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization against illegal logging on the edge of her community, later, between 2016 and 2018, she was unjustly imprisoned in a trial for the murder of a couple of large landowners. Now she will integrate the Constitutional Convention with an endorsement of more than 80 percent in the election of seats reserved for native peoples,” González adds. According to Cabieses, “Mestizo Chile, for example, will cease to be a social stigma. We will finally have a plurinational State where the roots of European conquerors and settlers will be twinned -at least in the Constitution- with the native peoples: Mapuche, Aymara, Kawésquar, Rapa Nui, Yagán, Quechua, Atacameño, Diaguita, Colla and Chango. A hodgepodge of peoples that make up the Chilean nation.” Both writers underline the emergence of independent delegates to the Constitutional Convention -48 out of 155. “In Chile's diverse ideological landscape, it is undeniable that the Convention will be dominated by the left, which will include both the constituents of the PC-FA alliance and an absolutely majority percentage of the 48 independents, whose lists emerged from social movements, neighborhood assemblies, unions, feminist and environmental groups.