Although Chile is considered to be an example of progress and development in Latin America, Alston draws attention to the fact that although this may be the case, Chile still has much to improve on in regards to extreme poverty.
“Whilst Chile has in place a wide range of programmes that aim to address poverty, this issue remains under the radar for the majority of policy makers.” This is one of the main worries put forward by Alston, in a period where reform is being addressed in areas that concern the middle class majority of the population, this does not necessarily mean that those in poverty and extreme poverty will inevitably feel the positive effects of such reform; more must be done specifically for those in these conditions.
Levels of social inequality have been found to be unsatisfactory in Chile, despite the progress it has made in comparison to other countries in the region. “The Anti Discrimination Law of 2012 was a big step forward but there is still much to be done before Chile can meet its international obligations in regards to human rights.”
Alston drew attention to a variety of factors that contribute to economic, social and cultural inequality in Chile including labour laws, gender inequality, rights of indigenous peoples and LGBT rights.
The rights of indigenous peoples in particular, referred to as “the Achilles heel of Chiles’ human rights record in the 21st century” have been at the forefront of the issue of poverty and human rights in Chile.
Specific recommendations put forward by Alston will aim to reduce poverty experienced by indigenous peoples, whose importance in this issue is paramount as emphasized by Alston himself, “Simply put, no serious effort to eliminate extreme poverty in Chile will be successful without a concentrated focus on the indigenous populations.”
At this point, Professor Alstons’ preliminary findings have been key in seriously addressing the issue of human rights and extreme poverty in Chile, issues that as aforementioned run the risk of dropping out of mainstream debate.
Gender inequality in the country also remains particularly relevant in regards to the debate around abortion as sexual and reproductive rights must be addressed, despite the difficulty of this due to the sensitive and highly polarizing nature of the abortion debate.
The Special Rapporteur met with President Michelle Bachelet as well as various other government officials, people living in poverty and non governmental organisations amongst others.
The final report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in 2016, its findings hopefully putting into motion governmental responses to the issues highlighted.