Human Rights and Chile’s Vulnerable Populations
A delegation of students will visit Chile between January 8th and 24nd for a seminar-practicum on the country’s history of democracy and dictatorship, human rights abuse and transitional justice. The course will be offered by Monterey Institute Professor Jan Knippers Black, of the Graduate School of International Policy and Management, in collaboration with Judge Juan Guzman, best known as Chile’s prosecutor of General Pinochet, and MIIS-based NGO Global Majority. There will be particular focus on the role of the judicial system in the process of transition to democracy and the ongoing need for protection of the rights of indigenous and other vulnerable populations. Challenges to be confronted within these themes will relate also to grassroots development, micro-enterprise, conflict resolution and environmental preservation.
The Chilean government’s treatment of its Indigenous population has come under criticism from the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, World Organization against Torture, International Federation of Human Rights, and various UN human rights groups. Over the past century, due largely to invasion, mistreatment and persecution by the various regimes ruling Chile, these indigenous groups have experienced great losses of population and land. The Mapuche, Chile’s largest indigenous group, have been particularly subject to political violence, false charges of crimes, and disproportionate application of anti-terrorism laws, resulting in open discrimination as well as criminalization of legitimate political protests and social demands. Some urban working class communities have also been targeted in this manner.
Chilean society as a whole has suffered great trauma since the demise of democratic government in 1973. Recovery, since 1990, has been gradual and challenging and – as recent waves of large-scale protest marches have underscored – incomplete. This onsite course will draw upon the learning experience of Chileans of a variety of professions and circumstances. It will also deal with the collateral damage of dictatorship to institutions of civil society and to lower income groups, and it will promote opportunities for students to work with NGOs and communities in need of assistance.
Following a period of 5 or 6 days of lectures and discussion, orientation and field trips in and around the capital, Santiago, students will travel south to Araucania, the lake and volcano region, where they will observe and experience some of the challenges of life in a variety of Mapuche communities. There they will listen and learn directly from Mapuche leaders, both men and women, and they will gain experience in interviewing, assessing needs, and documenting abuses of the human rights of indigenous and otherwise underserved Chilean peoples. The deliverable of the 4-hour credit course will be a report assessing the current human rights protection needs of a particular Chilean group or community and suggesting means of meeting those needs. Data and insights obtained onsite will be shared among students during 3 days of debriefing in Santiago and/or on the Coast, and papers and/or videos will be prepared and presented after return to MIIS during the spring semester.