Recoleta is an urban commune located in the northern part of Santiago, capital of Chile. It is historically characterized by the popular and multicultural roots of its inhabitants and is now particularly known for its innovative and transformative local government.
During the pre-hispanic period, this part of Santiago was populated by the Incas and Picunches. Later, after the Spanish colonization, the area was called “La Chimba,” meaning “from the other shore” in Quechua, alluding to its proximity to Santiago’s main waterway, the Mapocho River. During the 17th century the population increased gradually, along with settlements of Franciscan and Dominican ecclesiastical orders. Recoleta’s popular status took hold during the 19th century, when active outdoor merchants emerged in the area. These characteristics, plus the economic, social and cultural influence of Arab and Asian migrants, transformed the commune into an active multicultural pole.
According to the 2017 census, Recoleta’s population is estimated at 158,000, more than half of which are women. It is home to a large number of seniors: between 2002 and 2017 persons over the age of 64 increased from 14,700 to 19,800, while those younger than 15 years of age decreased from 33.800 to 28.500.
More than 21% of its inhabitants are migrants, mostly from countries in Latin America, such as Haiti, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. Almost 11% of the population in Recoleta is from Chile’s first nations (mainly Mapuche, 8.4%), and a still undetermined percentage of migrants are indigenous peoples from the Americas.
According to the 2015 National Socioeconomic Characterization Survey (CASEN), almost 13% of Recoleta’s population has an income below the poverty line. Taking into consideration the multidimensional poverty rate, the number is higher than 26%. Plus, more than 20% live in overcrowded homes, and 14% have trouble accessing basic services.
The Local Communal Government
In 2012, the architect, sociologist and Communist Party member Daniel Jadue was elected Recoleta’s Mayor, a position he holds to date after winning two consecutive municipal re-elections, in the last of which he secured 64.08% of the vote.
During this period, Recoleta has become, national and internationally, known for being a transformative local government, promoting social innovations such as the Popular Pharmacy, the Popular Opticians, the Popular Housing Project and the Universidad Abierta de Recoleta, among others.
To read more about the Municipality of Recoleta, click here www.recoleta.cl.