Mapuche woman to lead Chile's new constitution

In Chile, a Mapuche indigenous woman was picked to lead efforts to draft a new constitution on Sunday.

It's a dramatic turning point for a group historically ignored in Chilean politics.

Her name is Elisa Loncon, a political independent, activist and university professor.

"This convention that I have the responsibility of presiding over will transform Chile, a plurinational Chile, an intercultural Chile, a Chile that does not go against the rights of women, the rights of citizens, a Chile that looks after Mother Earth, in a Chile that safeguards water against being dominated."

Loncon proudly accepted the position holding the Mapuche flag.

She was elected by nearly 100 of the 155 delegates who are part of the constitutional body.

They will draft a new text to replace Chile’s outdated magna carta written under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

During Loncon's election, demonstrators from all political sides demanded police be withdrawn from the ceremony.

Clashes delayed the day’s events, and underscored deep divisions that still simmer from protests that began in 2019 over inequality, protests that grew worse in response to police violence.

The constitutional delegation has vowed to address water and property rights, central bank independence and labor practices.

It’s made up mostly of independent and leftist politicians, some with roots in the protest movement.

Conservatives backed by the center-right government make a smaller share of the group.