"The Convention paves the way to the solution of historical conflicts related to the dispossession that Indigenous peoples have suffered," said a Mapuche lawmaker.
On Wednesday, the Constitutional Convention approved provisions in the new Chilean constitution related to the Indigenous peoples' right to their territories and resources.
Adopted with 106 votes, the decision also defined land restitution as a preferential reparation mechanism, which was celebrated with joy by the 17 constituents who occupy seats reserved for Indigenous peoples in the Convention.
"Indigenous peoples have rights to the resources they have traditionally used or occupied, which are found in their territories and are essential for their collective existence. Today the Constitutional Convention paves the way to the solution of historical conflicts related to the dispossession that Indigenous peoples have suffered," said Rosa Catrileo, representative of the Mapuche people, the largest Chilean Indigenous nation.
The Plenary also approved an article clarifying that "no person can be deprived of his or her property, except by virtue of a law that authorizes expropriation for reasons of public utility... the owner will always have the right to be compensated for the just price of the good.”
Neighbours and indigineous Mapuche communities of Liquiñe (Chile) are in defence of their community, waters and territory after heavy machinery enters the area for the installation of a tourist centre. https://t.co/17u0vsmXRD pic.twitter.com/Vx04ahq2ds— Please come Down to Earth and face the facts! (@OntaardeBschvng) April 29, 2022
This is the first time in the Chilean history that Indigenous peoples participate in the drafting of a constitution. They are represented by seven Mapuches, two Aymaras, and one representative for each remaining ethnic group: Diaguita, Quechua, Atacameño, Colla, Yagan, Kawesqar, Chango, and Rapa Nui.
The Constitutional Convention's decision occurs amid the resurgence of violence in the south of the country, where forestry and agricultural companies have been occupying territories that Indigenous peoples inhabited for centuries. In the last year, the conflict has seen an escalation of violence with frequent arson attacks on machinery and property, fatal shootouts, and hunger strikes by indigenous prisoners.
On September 4, Chileans will participate in a referendum to approve the new constitution, which will replace the text drafted by the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).