Chile Senate reserves seats for indigenous communities as it prepares to rewrite constitution
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Chile Senate reserves seats for indigenous communities as it prepares to rewrite constitution

The Chilean Senate unanimously approved a bill to reserve 17 of its 155 seats for indigenous communities in its upcoming constitutional convention.

The bill provides a fixed number of seats for representatives of certain indigenous communities in the country. Mapuche, the largest indigenous group, will enjoy seven seats. The Senate did not reserve seats for Afro-descendants, another under-represented group in Chilean law-making.

Although indigenous persons represent around 11.3 percent of Chile’s total population of 19 million, indigenous under-representation in politics has contributed to social and economic inequalities.

The bill and the broader constitution rewrite follow the significant protests that Chile faced in late 2019 over constitutional reforms. In an October vote, a majority of Chileans expressed support for overhauling the Pinochet-era constitution still in place.

After the bill passed, President of the Chilean Christian Democratic Party, Senator Carolina Goic, said:

I recognize those who were able to reach an agreement and the symbolic nature of what we are doing today: to recognize in each of the peoples that they will have a voice to build this vision of Chile of the future, the home of all that shelters us in all its diversity.

Once the convention is elected in April, it will have one year to agree to a draft constitution that will once again go before voters.

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