Elisa Loncón

Elisa Loncón Antileo (born 23 January 1963) is a Mapuche linguist and indigenous rights activist in Chile. In 2021, Loncón was elected as one of the representatives of the Mapuche people for the Chilean Constitutional Convention. Following in the inauguration of the body, Loncón was elected President of the Constitutional Convention.[1]

Elisa Loncón
Elisa Loncon Antileo.jpg
Loncón dressed in traditional Mapuche garment in 2021
President of the Constitutional Convention
In office
4 July 2021 – 5 January 2022
Vice PresidentJaime Bassa
Preceded byCarmen Gloria Valladares (acting)
Succeeded byMaría Elisa Quinteros
Member of the Constitutional Convention
Assumed office
4 July 2021
ConstituencyMapuche people in the Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Santiago, O'Higgins and Maule Regions
Personal details
Elisa Loncón Antileo

(1963-01-23) 23 January 1963 (age 59)
Lefweluan Community, Traiguén, Chile
Political partyIndependent
Residence(s)Santiago, Chile
Alma materUniversidad de La Frontera
Leiden University
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

Background and early lifeEdit

Elisa Loncón was born in Lefweluan, a Mapuche community near Traiguén, Araucanía Region.[1] One of Loncón's great-grandfathers fought the Chilean government during the invasion of Araucanía (1861–1883) and was a close ally of chief José Santos Quilapán.[2] Loncón's family was involved in the recovery of land ownership before and during the Chilean land reform (1962–1973).[2] As a consequence land recovery activism, Loncón's maternal grandfather, Ricardo Antileo, spent time in jail during the Pinochet-era military dictatorship.[2] The father of Elisa was a bullock-driver who learned to read when being 17 years old.[3] He later learned furniture carpentry and made this his occupation.[3] Her father's developéd his interest in reading and writing by buying a typewriter.[3] Her mother was a self-employed horticulturist, who provided her family with food and sold vegetables in the local markets.[3] Loncón recalled that it was her mother, who was fond of poetry, whom taught her to read.[3]

Loncón grew up in poverty, recalling that her family endured long-term food insecurity.[4] Her childhood house was a ruca with dirt floor.[3] In a 2017 interview, Loncón stated that the local Mapuche ceremonial centre in Lefweluan was destroyed in favour of a landfill site, and watched her brothers develop skin infections while playing in the garbage.[4] Loncón says she had a happy childhood playing often with her siblings and cousins.[3] One of her grandmothers, a monolingual Mapuche speaker, went periodically to Traiguén and told her often "about the city".[3] Loncón remembers her father once sold two carts of firewood to buy books for his family.[3] Many of the books in her home were about the history of Chile and philosophy.[3] According to Loncón her father had a vast knowledge of the Mapuche oral tradition of history which she absorbed.[3] Another relative taught her about "animals and birds" from the Mapuche oral tradition.[3] Loncón begun first grade school at Escuela Particular no. 41 de Nahuelhuan at five years age since there was no Kindergarten available and her mother had her three younger siblings to take care of. She stayed at that school until fourth grade.[3]

Her brother Lautaro Loncón is a prominent Mapuche activist and political figure who served as indigenous secretary of the Party for Democracy.[5]

University education and academic careerEdit

Loncón originally intended to study history but did not achieve the necessary score in Prueba de Aptitud Académica to enter the program.[3] Instead she choose to study English in the University of La Frontera, one of the universidades tradicionales.[6] Loncón recalled she was perceived by the staff in university as a "second María Catrileo", since Catrileo was also once a Mapuche who studied English.[3] In university she was part of Ad Mapu's Mapuche language theater group touring Mapuche communities in the region.[3] During Pope John Paul II's visit to Chile in 1987 Loncón, who had graduated by that time, acted as interpreter for VTR.[3]

Aided by her contacts with Chilean exiles in the Netherlands Loncón pursued her postgraduate studies at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague.[3][6] She then continued her studies at the University of Regina in Canada, and at UAM Iztapalapa in Mexico City.[6] Loncón received her Ph.D. from Leiden University in the Netherlands and a doctorate in literature at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

Loncón is a full-time professor at the University of Santiago, focusing her research on the teaching of mapudungun (the Mapuche language) and its persistence in the contemporary context.[6] She has written several books and publications, mainly about innovation and expansion of the lexical resources of the Mapuche language.[7]

Activism and political involvementEdit

While at university in 1983 Loncón joined the wave of protests against the military dictatorship that swept through the country. The rector of the university Heinrich von Baer identified Locón and many other students that participated and threatened to expel them if they took part of any further protests.[3] She was part of the Ad Mapu cultural organization and the Aukiñ Wallmapu Ngulam (AWNg or Consejo de Todas las Tierras in Spanish).[8] As part of the AWNg, she participated in the design of the Mapuche flag, the Wenufoye.[9] According to her the flag was designed in the context of the upcoming 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus in 1992.[3] As the King of Spain Juan Carlos I planned to visit Chile for the anniversary Loncón recalls: "we were going to say no to the King of Spain for all of what that [colonization] meant to us".[3]

Loncón's work was noted by the United Nations in a 2017 press release urging the Chilean government to cease using the Anti-Terrorism Law against Mapuche activists.[10]

Constitutional ConventionEdit

In 2021, Loncón was a candidate for the Chilean Constitutional Convention, running to represent the Mapuche of the Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Santiago, O'Higgins and Maule regions. Loncón received a plurality of votes and was elected.[1]

Constitutional Convention presidential electionEdit

Early reports suggested that Machi Francisca Linconao was seen as "the natural candidate" for indigenous members of the Constitutional Convention to support for president of the body. However, Linconao declined to run, instead proposing that Loncón stand for the presidency of the convention during a Winter solstice meeting held in her house in Padre Las Casas.[11]

Loncón agreed to run for the presidency, and was elected on 4 July 2021 after the convention was inaugurated. Loncón received 96 votes in the second round, mainly from the left (Apruebo Dignidad, The List of the People) and center-left coalitions (part of Constituent Unity).[1]

Inaugural session of the Chilean Constitutional Convention on 4 July 2021. Loncón is seen standing on the right.

Pundits have interpreted her victory over Isabel Godoy in the first round as a victory of the Broad Front coalition over the Communist Party, both of whom are part of Apruebo Dignidad.[11][12] Fellow Mapuche activist and convention member Natividad Llanquileo chose to cast a blank vote instead of supporting Loncón, alleging that Loncón is too closely affiliated with the former Concertación.[13] Loncón pushed back against allegations that her support from the Concertación was a result of her brother Lautaro Loncón's position within the Party for Democracy,[5] which she deemed racist and patriarchal.[14]

Loncón's victory was greeted as a historic victory for Chile's indigenous peoples and received international attention.[15][16][17] Communist Party nominee Daniel Jadue was the first 2021 presidential candidate to congratulate Loncón on her victory.[18] Following Loncón's election, President of Chile Sebastián Piñera stated "I wish you wisdom, prudence and strength to guide the Convention towards a new Constitution".[19]

Presidential tenureEdit

Shortly after being elected President of the Constitutional Convention Loncón declared her aim to discuss terms for the release of the Prisoners of the Revolt and indigenous political prisoners.[20][21]

Having denounced harassment and threats Loncón was on 20 July assigned two female escorts of the Carabineros de Chile to provide her with security.[22] Besides direct threats Loncón has also faced persistent criticism and attacks from a group of about 8,000 unique Twitter accounts.[23] Much criticism of her has been identified as part of a larger smear campaign against the Constitutional Convention by voters of the "reject" option in the 2020 Chilean national plebiscite.[23] On July 27 the hashtag "#DestitucionDeElisaLoncon" aiming to promote an impeachment of Loncón became a trending topic in Twitter and was featured in large Chilean media outlets.[23] The originator of the campaign scores as an "echo-chamber" type of account in the Botometer project.[24]

She has been criticized by right-wing members of the Constitutional Convention for her recurrent use of Mapudungun when speaking in the convention.[23]

Loncón has helped to build a "plurinational library" in the Constitutional Convention and brought for that purpose books of Humberto Maturana, Ximena Dávila, Frantz Fanon, Christo Brand, Linda Tuhiwai, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui. Loncón brought also the books Küme mongen, Suma qamaña, Mo ora riva riva. Ensayos y propuestas para una constitución plurinacional and Maben ñi Puji of multiple authors.[25]


  1. ^ a b c d "Elisa Loncón, representante del pueblo mapuche, se transforma en presidenta de la Convención Constitucional". Diario y Radio U Chile (in European Spanish). Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Quién es Elisa Loncon, la profesora mapuche elegida presidenta de la Convención Constituyente de Chile". El Mostrador (in Spanish). 4 July 2021. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Pero Con Respeto - Elisa Loncón" (in Spanish). Chilevisión. 12 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Elisa Loncon: "Nuestras profesoras a veces nos pegaban por ser indias" « Diario y Radio U Chile" (in European Spanish). Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Quién es Elisa Loncón, la profesora mapuche que fue elegida presidenta de la Convención Constitucional | Ex-Ante". www.ex-ante.cl (in Spanish). 4 July 2021. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d "Elisa Loncon Antileo". Departament of Education - University of Santiago. Archived from the original on 21 September 2020. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  7. ^ "Elisa Loncon". Aula Intercultural (in European Spanish). Archived from the original on 7 July 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  8. ^ Loncón, Elisa (6 January 2021). "Presentación". Archived from the original on 15 March 2021. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  9. ^ "Elisa Loncón: "Se habla tanto del racismo en Estados Unidos, pero no se habla del de Chile" – Palabra Pública". Palabra Pública (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 30 June 2020. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  10. ^ "Expertos de la ONU piden a Chile no utilizar la Ley Antiterrorista contra los mapuche". Noticias ONU (in Spanish). 6 October 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  11. ^ a b Wilson, José Miguel (4 July 2021). "Cómo se gestó el triunfo de Loncón y la medición de fuerzas entre la alianza FA-PS y el bloque PC-Lista del Pueblo". Ex-Ante (in Spanish). Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  12. ^ Ferrer, Consuelo (6 July 2021). ""Geometría variable" se avizora en la Convención: Cómo se ordenaron las fuerzas políticas en el arranque". Emol (in Spanish). Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  13. ^ "Constituyente Natividad Llanquileo tras voto en blanco en Convención: "Actuamos en consecuencia"". 24horas.cl. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  14. ^ Resumen.cl. "Elisa Loncon ante críticas por rol de su hermano en el PPD: "Son patriarcales, colonialistas y racistas"". Resumen.cl. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Mapuche woman to lead body drafting Chile's new constitution". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Mapuche woman picked to lead architects of Chile's new constitution". Reuters. 4 July 2021. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  17. ^ Bell, Carole Concha. "Chile: election of progressive indigenous academic to oversee constitutional reform is a blow to right-wing establishment". The Conversation. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  18. ^ publimetro. "Daniel Jadue fue el primer candidato que valoró elección de Elisa Loncon en la CC". Publimetro (in European Spanish). Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  19. ^ Gallardo, Rosario (4 July 2021). "Piñera tras victoria de Elisa Loncón: "Le deseo sabiduría, prudencia y fortaleza para guiar la Convención hacia una nueva Constitución"". La Tercera. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  20. ^ Trejo, Carolina (25 March 2020). "Los 2.500 presos de la revuelta en Chile de los que no se hablan". Archived from the original on 26 March 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  21. ^ Nash Rojas, Claudio (17 December 2020). "Prisión política en el Chile democrático: un nuevo debate incómodo". Ciper. Archived from the original on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  22. ^ "Designan a dos carabineras como escoltas de Elisa Loncon tras denuncia de amenazas". El Mostrador (in Spanish). 20 July 2021. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  23. ^ a b c d Santander M., Pedro (25 August 2021). ""La Convención Constitucional está bajo ataque", ¿verdad o fake news?". Ciper. Archived from the original on 25 August 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  24. ^ "Las cuentas detrás del hashtag que pide la destitución de Elisa Loncón". contexto. 29 July 2021. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
  25. ^ Retamal N., Pablo (3 August 2021). "Los libros que mostró Elisa Loncon en la Convención y que apuntan a una "biblioteca plurinacional"". La Tercera (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 August 2021.

External linksEdit