Indigenous Leaders Accuse Government of Fraud with Respect to Indigenous Scholarships

Two Indigenous leaders approached the Comptroller General of Chile and requested that an investigation be conducted into scholarships that were supposed to be given to Indigenous students. The leaders provided a list of at least 20 names to the Comptroller General which they allege are names of non-Indigenous individuals who were granted Indigenous scholarships in violation of Chilean law. The leaders suggested that the National Board of Student Aid and Scholarships (Junta Nacional De Auxilio Escolar y Becas or JUNAEB) as well as the National Indigenous Development Corporation (Corporación Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena or CONADI) are responsible for the alleged illegal actions.

The two leaders raising the claims of illegality are Ariel León, president of the Aymara organization Jacha Marka Aru, and Mauricio Llaitul, president of the Indigenous association called, Triay Antu, as well as the Mapuche community of  Llaitul Paredes located in San Juan de la Costa. According to León, the action was brought in part because, “This is a misuse of public resources,” and, “the Indigenous scholarships are important because they are the hope of many rural families who cannot afford to send their students to school without a scholarship.” León added that recent data found that Indigenous peoples in Chile are twice as likely to be under the poverty line than non-Indigenous peoples and that their access to education is, likewise, lower than that of non-Indigenous Chileans.

Llaitul added that he is “strongly disappointed” in the way resources have been used, and argued that the actions of JUNAEB and CONADI amounted to “embezzlement” in violation of Chilean law. Specifically, he suggested that while JUNAEB is the one providing the scholarships, CONADI should have provided the oversight to ensure that the students receiving funds were, in fact, Indigenous.

In response to the allegations, both JUNAEB and CONADI declined to comment due to a lack of information surrounding the accusations.

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