Last week, the Chilean National Comptroller, a body that serves as the government’s auditor, established that it is against the law for Chilean municipalities to boycott Israel.
This landmark decision was in part due to the complaints from the Chilean Jewish Community and the Chilean community in Israel about the Valdivia municipality’s ban on companies doing business with Israel. On the ban, Valdivia Mayor Omar Sabat had stated, “We join this initiative declaring the city of Valdivia the first municipality in Latin America free of Israeli apartheid… We refrain from contracting with any company that profits from and is linked to Israeli apartheid.”
According to the complainants, Valvidia’s ban violated equality before law, as well as constituted economic discrimination.
When coming to its decision, Chile’s National Comptroller concluded that while the Chilean Constitution gives municipalities a certain amount of independence, it does not give municipalities the ability to engage in foreign policy. Furthermore, according to the Jerusalem Post, “anyone participating in a government bidding process is legally ensured ‘equal and non-discriminatory treatment’ under Chilean law,” and Chilean law also “prohibits ‘arbitrary discrimination that is based on considerations such as nationality and that cause a deprivation, disturbance of threat of the exercise in fundamental rights.’” For these reasons, Valdivia’s boycott was illegal.