Elisa Loncón, a 58 year old Mapuche woman, was elected on July 4 to be the president of the Constitutional Convention – the group of people who will be writing a new Constitution for Chile over the next 9 months. Ms Loncón is an academic specializing in linguistics, she speaks Mapudungún, Spanish, and English, and is in the faculty of the University of Santiago. Damn. She’s amazing.
Her acceptance speech was short and the most transformative thing I’ve heard this year – she talked about refounding Chile. Three times. actually, the third time she just said “found”, straight up. I counted them because it was so powerful to hear. She didn’t have to explain it, as a linguist, she is excellent with her word choice. What we have isn’t working, how about we start over? But she did explain it, just in case, for the people in the back who never tend to get the message, and what she had to say was profoundly inspiring. There is no way I can do it justice, and because I couldn’t find a version of it in English on the interwebs, I decided that sharing with you my translation was the best I could do. Just have a read and tell me she’s wrong. Tell me it can’t be done. Tell me there’s no other way. I dare you.
MARI MARI PU LAMNGEN!
(Greetings brothers and sisters)
MARI MARI KOM PU CHE!
(Greetings to all the people)
MARI MARI CHILE MAPU!
(Greetings to the country of Chile)
MARI MARI PU CHE TA TUWULÜ TA PIKUN MAPU PÜLE!
(Greetings to the people who live in the northern lands)
MARI MARI PU CHE TA TUWÜLU TA PATAGONIA PÜLE!
(Greetings to the people who live in Patagonia)
MARI MARI PU CHE TA TUWÜLU TA DEWÜN PÜLE!
(Greetings to the people who live on the islands)
MARI MARI PU CHE TA TUWÜLU LAFKEN PÜLE!
(Greetings to the people who live on the coast)
MARI MARI KOM PU LAMNGEN!
(Greetings to all, brothers and sisters)
A big greeting to the people of Chile from the north to Patagonia, from the lafken, the sea, to the mountain range; on the islands, to all the people of Chile who are watching and listening to us. Here we are pu lamngen, to thank the support of the different coalitions that gave us their trust, that placed their dreams in the call made by the Mapuche Nation to vote for a Mapuche person, a woman, to change the history of this country.
We are very happy for this strength that they give us, but this strength is for all the people of Chile, for all sectors, for all regions, for all peoples and original nations that accompany us, for their organizations, for everyone. This greeting and gratitude is also for sexual diversity, this greeting is also for the women who walked against any system of domination, to thank that this time we are installing here a plural way of being plural, a democratic way of being, a participatory way of being.
This Convention that today I have to preside over will transform Chile into a plurinational Chile, into an intercultural Chile, into a Chile that does not violate the rights of women, the rights of caregivers, into a Chile that cares for Mother Earth, into a Chile that cleans the waters, into a Chile free from all domination. A special greeting to the Mapuche lamngen of Wallmapu, this is a dream of our ancestors, this dream comes true today.
It is possible, sisters and brothers, companions, to refound this Chile, to establish a new relationship between the Mapuche people and all the nations that make up this country. In this context, pu lamngen, this is the first sign that this Convention is going to be participatory. We, as indigenous peoples, established that it is going to be a rotating leadership, a collective leadership, which would give space to all sectors of society represented here. All together, pu lamngen, we are going to refound this Chile.
We have to expand democracy, we have to expand participation, we have to summon every corner of Chile to be part of this process. The Convention must be a participatory and transparent process, so that they can see us from the last corner of our territory and hear us in our native languages that have been postponed for all that the Chilean Nation-State has been. For the rights of our original nations, for the rights of the regions, for the rights of Mother Earth, for the right to water, for the rights of women and for the rights of our children.
I also want to express my solidarity with the other peoples who suffer. We have heard on television what has happened to the indigenous children of Canada, it is shameful how colonialism has assaulted and attacked the future of the original nations. We, brothers and sisters, are a people of solidarity.
I want to thank here the original authority of the Mapuche people, Machi Francisca Linconao, for her support. I also have a mother who is watching me from my Lefweluan community, a mother who made it possible for this woman to be here. Thanks to all the women who fight for the future of their sons and daughters. Finally, send a greeting to the boys and girls who are listening to us, who are watching us.
Today a new plural, multilingual Chile is founded, with all cultures, with all peoples, with women and with territories, that is our dream to write a New Constitution.
Manum pu lamngen
(Thank you brothers and sisters)
Marichiweu! Marichiweu! Marichiweu!
(Ten times we will win, ten times we will win, ten times we will win)
ELISA LONCON ANTILEO
President of the Constitutional Convention