Posted by: austronesia | May 5, 2006

Administrative Independence for Rapa Nui

Easter Island to Gain Autonomy
Constitutional reform will give Chilean province administrative independence

Margot Hotus S.

Chile is currently divided into 13 regions and includes part of Antarctica. The regions are composed of 51 provinces, which in turn are made up of 324 municipalities. Easter Island is a province and at the same time a municipality of the fifth Region of Chile, named Valparaiso.

All provinces are administratively dependent on the regions in all respects, especially so in regard to development, which is strongly involved with the country’s distribution of wealth.

In Region V there are seven provinces. Since Easter Island is one of the destinations most visited by tourists from abroad, the island is not considered a poor province. This means that it can earmark excess fiscal resources for the needs of other provinces first and then, if anything is left, it remains for Easter Island.

A state institution called CONADI (Corporación Nacional Indígena/National Indigenous Corporation) distributes development funds to Chile’s ethnic groups, according to the “size” of the communities. Since Mapuche ethnics number more than 500,000 people, almost all funds go to their projects, which does not seem fair to the other ethnic groups since the help is not proportional to population.

For a long time now a commission of Rapanui (the native Polynesian inhabitants of Easter Island — ed.) and government representatives has been meeting to consider giving Easter Island another kind of political administration. This initiative was based mainly on the needs of the island, its contribution to Chilean tourism, and on its forming the Chilean “third border.”

The Chilean Senate has approved a constitutional reform giving Easter Island the status of “Special Territory” apart from the regional, provincial, and municipal designations.

The next stage in this project is to arrive at a “Special Territorial Recommendation” that will reflect all Easter Islanders’ opinions and proposals for discussion with government representatives to establish this new administrative subdivision figure for Chile.

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