Chile’s future constitution makes room for indigenous ancestral land rights

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It is one of the most important achievements of the indigenous peoples

Chile’s Constituent Assembly Wednesday approved in a Plenary Session the right of indigenous peoples and nations to their lands, territories, and resources by 106 votes in favor, 37 against, and 10 abstentions.

With over two-thirds of the votes, the new provision is to be added to the next Constitutional text. The article also states that the State shall have a legal instrument, for the restitution, reparation, and regularization of lands to indigenous peoples in addition to granting special protection to the indigenous ownership of land.

“In accordance with the Constitution and the law, indigenous peoples and nations have the right to use the resources they have traditionally used or occupied, which are found in their territories and are indispensable for their collective existence,” the section reads.

Along with the constitutional declaration of Chile as a plurinational state, this article in favor of ancestral lands is one of the most important achievements of indigenous peoples within the constituent body.

Another issue passed Wednesday was the proper compensation for lands expropriated due to national interests.

Convention member Natividad Llanquileo said Wednesday’s achievements had been “made by the different native peoples, it was raised and worked on by the different groups in order to obtain the two-thirds.”

“It was very consensual work, very difficult also because we know that these types of norms are not easy,” she added.

Isabel Godoy, of the Colla people, said “it has not been easy for the indigenous peoples. Here all the peoples have been made invisible, our territories have been controlled; they have been privatized. And today we see the opportunity that a norm that guarantees the recovery of our lands, our territories, for all peoples alike, will be received in good time. And today I say to all my peoples, we have achieved it, we have succeeded, our problems are going to be solved by the union of our people.”

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