The Mapuche activist, academic, linguist and politician Elisa Loncon, former president of the Constitutional Convention in charge of drafting a new Magna Carta in Chile, received this Wednesday the René Cassin Award for Human Rights, an act in which she highlighted that Chile is currently experiencing a “new history” with the drafting of a Constitution written with “parity” by those who had been absent from the “sphere of power.”
The award ceremony, which is granted by the Government of Lakua and which recognizes Loncon’s work with indigenous communities, was held in Gasteiz.
During the award ceremony, chaired by the Lehendakari of the CAV, Iñigo Urkullu, a poem was read in Mapudungun, the language of the Mapuche people, which moved Elisa Loncon.
The activist, in her speech, related that her ancestors fought against colonialism and the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and said that all her grandparents had a common dream, that of recovering “the usurped territory”, the sovereignty and culture of their town. “That is the fight that I embrace and that inspires me,” he remarked.
He stressed that a constitutional process has begun in Chile to change the Constitution left by the dictatorship and that legitimized “a segregating and undemocratic social and political model based on a neoliberal model” that today the people of the country intend to overcome.
The text is being written “with parity” and with a decentralizing vision that respects multinationality.
He has also made a defense of the recovery of Mapudungun and has denounced that when maneuvering against a language those affected are condemned “to the world of silence” and threaten dignity and humanity because languages are instruments for “communication, dialogue and peace among peoples.
One of the most influential
Elisa Loncon, who was born in 1963 in the commune of Traiguén, in Mapuche territory under Chilean administration, has been distinguished by the ‘Financial Times’ a few days ago as one of the 25 most influential women in the world.
She taught herself to read, graduated as an English teacher from the Universidad de La Frontera, in La Araucanía, and did postgraduate studies at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague and the University of Regina in Canada.
Until recently, he chaired the Constitutional Convention of Chile, a body created to draft the new draft of the country’s Constitution.
He has worked especially so that the linguistic and cultural differences of the Mapuche people and the original peoples of the Chilean State are recognized.
Human rights at risk
In the act, Urkullu pointed out that democracy is much more than a political regime. “It is a system of values”, and has defended dialogue, non-violence and non-imposition, as well as diversity and social justice and the political recognition of all identities, nations and peoples.
The Minister of Equality, Justice and Social Policies of Lakua, Beatriz Artolazabal, has warned that today human rights in the world suffer a situation “of risk and threat” due to the “rise of fundamentalism and populism, international terrorism, racism and xenophobia, forced displacement and humanitarian crises or climate change”.
The René Cassin Award was created in 2003 and publicly recognizes people and entities that stand out in the defense of human rights.
The award was named after René Cassin, who is considered one of the main inspirers of the Declaration of Human Rights and who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968.
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The Mapuche Elisa Loncon receives the René Cassin award: “Today Chile lives a new story”