The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Cristian Soto Quiroz
By Verónica Figueroa Huencho
September 15, 2021 7:16 AM EDT

“Today, a new Chile is created: one that is pluralistic, multilingual, with all its cultures, with all its peoples, with its women and with all its territories. This is our dream for writing the new constitution.” With those words, Elisa Loncon Antileo assumed the presidency of Chile’s Constitutional Convention in July. The body, which will rewrite our current dictatorship-era constitution, is the culmination of a two-year-long social uprising over deep-rooted inequality and injustice that saw millions of Chileans demand changes to the country.

For the first time in history, Indigenous peoples are participating in the state’s life as representatives of their original nations, and President Elisa represents centuries of their dreams and struggles. She was born in the Mapuche community of Lefweluan on ancestral lands. As an activist, the teaching of the Mapuche language became her great crusade, recognized internationally. A brilliant woman and a distinguished academic with two doctorates, she has spoken about love, about listening to each other.

The beautiful dark skin of mestizos and Indigenous peoples has long been kept out of the halls of power, but it is in those halls that Elisa Loncon Antileo now walks. In her light, Indigenous girls and boys can see the possibility of a better future.

Figueroa Huencho, who is Mapuche, is an associate professor at the University of Chile

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