La Doctrina del Descubrimiento y los Pueblos Indigenas en Chile (The Doctrine of Discovery and Indigenous Peoples in Chile)

The article on the Doctrine of Discovery in Chile, that I wrote with 

Lisa M. Lesage,

Lewis & Clark Law School, and

Sebastian Lopez Escarcena,

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile – Law Faculty, is now available on-line in English and Spanish.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will address the Doctrine as its main theme at its meetings in New York city May 7-18, 2012.

Abstract:
La doctrina del descubrimiento, vista a través de seiscientos años de derecho internacional, ha marcado la historia de Chile – desde que Diego de Almagro pisara por primera vez el norte del país, hasta que el Estado chileno reclamara parte de la Patagonia y de la Antártica. Un examen comparativo de la larga historia de esta doctrina en América Latina muestra que la adquisición europea de Chile se fundó en justificaciones religiosas, raciales y etnocéntricas. La adaptación de muchos de los elementos de la doctrina a las políticas internas del gobierno chileno durante los últimos doscientos años ha tenido profundas implicancias para los pueblos indígenas. Los intentos de Chile por crear un futuro más equitativo para sus ciudadanos, al igual que los esfuerzos de otras sociedades colonizadoras como España, Portugal, el Reino Unido, y Estados Unidos, deben partir de un conocimiento ilustrado de esta historia, y de un reconocimiento de los errores e injusticias del pasado. Sólo entonces, los esfuerzos por erradicar los vestigios de esta doctrina podrán proveer una solucion de justicia a problemas con profundas raíces históricas.

 

The English language version was published in the Nebraska Law Review, Vol. 89, No. 4, 2011 and can be found at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1667155
 

The Doctrine of Discovery, viewed through the lens of six hundred years of international law, has shaped Chile’s legal history, from Diego de Almagro’s first footprint in the north to its later claim to part of Patagonia and Antarctica. A comparative law examination of the Doctrine’s long history in Latin America demonstrates that the European acquisition of Chile was founded on what can be considered today to be feudal, religious, racial, and ethnocentric justifications. The adaptation of many of the Doctrine’s elements into the Chilean government’s own domestic policies over the past two hundred years has had profound implications for its Indigenous peoples. Chile’s attempts to create a more positive and equal future for its citizens, just as the efforts of settler societies such as Spain, Portugal, England, and the United States, must begin with an enlightened recognition of this history. Only then can serious efforts to eradicate the vestiges of this doctrine from international law provide resolution of deeply-rooted issues in a place of justice and healing.

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