The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Government and Parliament to rush through a whole range of measures such as the withdrawals of 10% of the AFP, the IFE Universal, the aid bonds aimed at SMEs and to allocate resources to programs in favor of the sectors hardest hit by the crisis.
They are much-needed help for those who have had the worst time since the coronavirus arrived in March 2020. Unfortunately, every time the country celebrates this good news, in Rapa Nui we are already accustomed to taking it with caution, because we almost always have to make subsequent efforts with our regional and national authorities so that the inhabitants of the island can receive them just like the rest of the Chileans.
It has already happened with corfo’s Par Turismo program, when our tourism entrepreneurs did not meet the requirement to have made their tax return before the SII, in circumstances that were not obliged to do so because, by law, the island is exempt from paying VAT. Fortunately, they were able to gain access thanks to the management of the Ministry and the Seremi of Economy.
We must also remember that in our community practically no one had access to the first emergency family income, which was remedied with the IFE Universal; and we recently called on the authorities to take action in the matter so that our small and medium-sized entrepreneurs could receive the Relief Bonus of one million pesos, because again our situation of special territory was not considered at the time of implementing this measure.
Why, when we think about these instruments, do we not also take into account the particularities of territories such as ours? That would avoid the recurring and cumbersome practice of correcting and amending what has already been done. It is a powerful warning light on the need to move towards a true decentralization that for years has been present in all speeches, regardless of their political colour, but which has, today more than ever, a sense of urgency to ensure that the benefits of the State are for all and that there is no geographical and cultural discrimination.
It is also exhausting to have to make recurrent appeals to the central government to take note of the situation in an area that has not received visitors for more than a year, that has not had the support of subsidies due to the high cost of cabotage, and that must pay three or up to four times more for the purchase of basic inputs.
It is true that there has been progress: soon, after a long wait and thanks to the support of the Regional Government and the cores, our hospital in Hanga Roa will finally have a mammograph so that the women of the island can perform preventive breast cancer examinations without the need to travel to the mainland or wait for the medical operations organized by the Armed Forces. In the same vein, it has also been possible to finance initiatives with regional resources in favor of our artisanal fishermen, entrepreneurs, and to extend, through the municipality, the Pro Employment program that has allowed hundreds of families to cope with this complex time.
And although decentralization is an ongoing process, as demonstrated by the regional governors elected for the first time in a democratic manner, it is now that we require that our highest authorities, when legislating and formulating the bases of national programmes, take into account the reality of all territories. It only requires decisiveness, greater empathy and concern to resolve, in our case, situations on which the well-being of the children, young people, men, women and older adults of Rapa Nui depends.
The content of this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.