On Thursday, March 10th, the Chilean House of Deputies (the lower branch of Congress) voted to reject a Special Commission’s report that concluded, among other things, that there had been widespread irregularities in the operations of Chile’s Origins Program. The final vote was 35 in favor, 32 opposed, and four abstentions.This vote came after three years of investigating and after the creation of two separate commissions led to inconclusive results on whether there had been irregularities — particularly with money and promises made about lands — in the Origins Program. The investigations also looked into allegations of wrongdoing in both CONADI (the National Indigenous Corporation) and MIDEPLAN (the Ministry of Planning), both of which work with Indigenous peoples.
On June 8, 2010, the current Special Commission was created with the charge of investigating the Origins Program’s operations between the years of 2006-2010. The Commission was led by Deputy José Manuel Edwards (RN) who stated that the Commission found evidence of duplication of invoices totaling more than US$ 1.7 million in some of the poorest regions of the country. Additionally, according to the report, there was evidence that promises were made about land purchases that were impossible to meet, which led to escalated tensions in certain regions of the country.
Not everyone on the Commission was in agreement with its results, however. Specifically, Deputy Joaquín Tuma (PPD) stated that there was absolutely no conclusive evidence of any wrongdoings during the Concertación’s time in power. Rather, Tuma indicated that the only verifiable corruption uncovered by the Commission was that of CONADI’s former Director, Francisco Painepán — a Director who was appointed by the current administration and who resigned after allegations that of budgetary irregularities arose during his time.
After the vote was announced, Deputy Edwards let his sadness with the decision known, stating that “it is bad news for Chile” because it demonstrates Chile’s inability to investigate itself and promote political responsibility. At least one Indigenous group was also upset with the decision. According to Radio Bio-Bio, a member of the Mapuche group Choyun Mapu told the station that she felt cheated by the representatives from her region who voted to reject the report instead of defending the injustices that had occurred.