The National Geography Award 2022, with the aroma of decentralization and more democracy

The Chilean Society of Geography this 2022, awarded Federico Arenas Vásquez with the National Geography Award. It should be noted that Arenas Vásquez, has been synthesizing for a long time the relationship between geographical science with the science of politics, that is, how the object of study of geography, that is, geographical space, becomes intelligible, when the variables of the practical exercise of politics (in addition to the theoretical) are incorporated. as well as the economy. In this sense, perfectly, Arenas Vásquez (Professor Federico) has given content to the affirmation/concept “spatial relations of power”.
From an early analytical vocation, he picked up the tradition of national and international geographers, in this eagerness to situate these spatial relations of power in the regional idea/development, managed by that always controversial technique / discipline such as planning, which, in the case of the Chilean political process, in moments of a civic-military dictatorship, it was always little valued in the management of the ‘State and Development’ during that shadow that lasted 17 years. about our country. There was no compatibility between the planning practice that had been running in Chile prior to 1973 and Latin America until today in the particularities of each country v/s the neo-liberalizing development model that was sculpted since that decade of the 70’s.
Thus, Arenas Vásquez, via this technique/discipline of planning, outlined and proposed contents to these “spatial relations of power”, making the definitions of decentralization an indelible seal of his academic and professional career. More autonomy to the regions, more autonomy to the local spaces was the slogan, this, in the unity of the tradition of the Chilean geographical space, projected such a situation to any place in the world (unity in diversity as indicated these days). These courses in economic geography and regional planning are still remembered, as analytical possibilities in these decentralizing concepts and, from then on, the projection towards regional, local, urban and rural planning instruments. Of course, all reversed from a prudently critical (but critical) look and analytical irreverence (examples of everyday life, even when he had to take exams).
Which pedagogical libretto formative, sequentially synchronous and, sometimes asynchronously, collected the possibilities of better understanding these “spatial relations of power”, when it places at the center the idea of Territorial Planning, a situation inescapably anchored to the previous ones, systematically debunking, how the differentiated actors producers of geographical space (territory and place) according to their interests, They explained the socio-territorial inequalities, the cohesive fragmentations of the population, among others, but, also at the same time, showing alternatives for continuous improvement in an inter-scalar relationship of “political wills” that the “differentiated situational actors” had to have at each geographical scale. Political project was called that. 
Certainly, the geographical science that he has been sculpting, has the analytical stamp of interdisciplinarity, without sneaking, which is always slipped away by some cultivation of the object of study of geography, politics, in its exercise and in its theory. Professor Arenas Vásquez never stopped understanding geographical space as non-neutral. Their concerns for the Development, Planning and Ordering of the Territory account for this, as functional instruments to coastal zones / regions, intermediate depression, pre and mountain ranges, isolated spaces, all this, in addition mediated by the concern of natural risks (unavoidable, of course) either by bad intervention / human appropriation of spaces in the local, regional or national, or global, when it comes to climate change. 
It should be noted that its contributions to geographical science, apart from integrating undergraduate proposals in geography or postgraduate (master’s and doctorate), are valuable for readings of diverse geopolitics, that is, both conventional and critical, or their possible syntheses, given that the systematic study of the “national-regional-local territorial thing” in its various analytical and public policy instruments, They are tools contributing to that reading, to that analysis.
The geography of the Geographers and geographers, for ontological reason, have a vocation for interdisciplinarity, in the cultivation of the singularity that covers the analysis of the “spatial-geographical-territorial-place thing”, more when the accent is placed on the political-territorial transitions in which societies must be regularly understood at various scales, especially in scenarios of social ebbs and flows, political, economic and cultural where the process of globalization or hyper-globalization intensifies or contains them. In this sense, Arenas Vásquez, as a result of his regular analysis of these matters, has been able to dialogue without shame in other disciplines to allow better understanding, especially in the processes of decentralization that result in more democracy, which he has studied from the theoretical, but also from the practical, indelible and irrefutable seal that makes him worthy of this recognition by his peers, justifying, in addition, the connotation of the same, that is, a national geography prize with the aroma of decentralization and more democracy.

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Original source in Spanish

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