Research visit to Chile
In June 2022, postdoctoral research fellow Natalia Torres Zuniga visited Santiago de Chile, City of Valdivia in Southern Chile, and the town of San Jose de la Mariquina (Valdivia). The visit aimed to gather information about the country's forestry industry, constitutional change and political economy.
Illustration photo: Dr. Natalia Torres Zuniga
Dr. Torres' visit to Santiago de Chile, Valdivia and San Jose de la Mariquina was very fruitful. She was able to visit and interview academics from the University of Chile, University Diego Portales, University Austral of Chile, advisors at the Constituent Assembly (Santiago de Chile), local authorities (Municipality of Mariquina) and activists. They were very generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise about the nature and impact of the forestry industry in Chile and San Jose de la Mariquina.
On June 28, Dr. Torres visited the Centre "Núcleo de Investigación de Excelencia de Estudios Interdisciplinarios en torno a la Desigualdad y Derechos Humanos" (DesDeh), University Austral of Chile, campus Valdivia. Among its ranks, the university has academics with deep knowledge concerning the forestry industry and agribusiness in Valdivia and other parts of the country.
"The Law of the Land"
At DesDeh, Dr. Torres presented the theoretical framework and case studies of her project "The Law of Land. A legal study of land concentration, violence and racism in the Andes". "The law of the land" is a research project that studies how the Constitutions of Andean States (Peru, Colombia and Chile) have legally created and sustained a social market economy based on agribusiness and its consequences such as land concentration, displacement, violence, and racism. Dr. Fabian Almonacid, professor of the Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities and member of DesDeh, organized and participated in Dr. Torres' presentation.
Dr. Torres presented the concept of the material economic constitution in Andean countries and the relevance of using agribusiness cases. She highlighted these topics' utility in understanding the constitutional law's role in the making of a political economy of accumulation and extractivism. To date, agribusiness as an ideal model of development is highly contested in the Andes. Also, Andean states undergo constitutional reform processes or face constitutional change demands to transform the economic model based on agro-exports, promote land reform, or adopt environmental constitutional norms. In addition, using a critical constitutional law approach, Dr Torres presented three study cases of Peru (blueberries), Colombia (palm oil) and Chile (forestry industry) and the commonalities between them.