Patricio Espinosa

Patricio Espinoza Lucero

From: Santiago, Chile
Living in London, UK
Nationality: Chilean
Twitter: @changespatricio

 
 

From 1998 to 2003 Patricio studied law at Universidad de Chile, and has a longstanding interest in government and policy relating to combating social inequalities.

Patricio started his professional career in a law firm. In 2007 he changed focus to the third sector, working in an NGO called Corporación Participa in which he coordinated projects on transparency, citizen participation and civic education.

With the aim of strengthening his skills to pursue a career in government, in 2008 Patricio enrolled in the LLM programme in Public Law at Universidad de Chile, focusing on the administrative aspects of socioeconomic rights. In the same year he entered the public sector when he was appointed as legal counsel in the Budget Office of the Ministry of Finance. There he worked in the Studies Department, which is responsible for assessing government policies and evaluating their fiscal sustainability. His work focused on institutional reforms in education and the environment.

After two years in the Budget Office, Patricio pursued postgraduate studies in political theory in the UK when he was awarded the Becas Chile scholarship from the Chilean Government. He took an MA in Legal and Political Theory at University College London, where he studied the philosophical and political foundations of socioeconomic rights from the perspective of egalitarian theories of distributive justice.

Patricio has also worked as an academic, serving as assistant to the chair of Constitutional Law at Universidad de Chile from 1999 to 2013, focusing on the constitutional principle of equality. Following his studies at UCL, he returned to Universidad de Chile to work as a lecturer in the Graduate Diploma in Economic Public Law, where he taught the regulatory aspects of social policies. In 2013 Patricio served as a visiting professor at the university’s Faculty of Economics, where he taught a political philosophy course on “Republicanism and the Market”, presenting the key trends of egalitarian republican thought and contrasting them with the fundamentals of prevailing neoliberal thinking. Patricio has also published a number of papers on socioeconomic rights in the Public Law Journal of Universidad de Chile's Faculty of Law.

In 2014, Patricio began working as Legislative Chief of the Chilean Ministry of Education, where he was in charge of drafting legislation for the country’s wide-ranging programme of educational reform, which passed into law in 2017. He acted as a senior aide to the Minister in official debates and political negotiations relating to the bill’s passage through Parliament. This reform was among the most significant policy and legislative endeavours carried out in Chile as a means to challenge the country’s structural inequalities, and focused on eliminating discrimination and socioeconomic barriers to access to quality education at all levels.

In this senior civil service post, Patricio played a key role in the success of a number of government bills, including the landmark Higher Education Act (2017), which instituted free higher education across Chile, and the Inclusion Act (2015), which eliminated co-payment, student selection and for-profit structures in subsidised primary and secondary schools.

 

Personal Statement

Although I come from a working class family in Chile, I managed to attend the most prestigious public school which, despite my socioeconomic background, allowed me to access higher education and graduate from the most important university in Chile.

I am aware that my story is an exception in what otherwise is a structural issue: the extreme inequality that many Chileans suffer in terms of the distribution of wealth and power. This is the main reason that has driven my professional efforts towards fighting inequalities - that all people, regardless their cultural and socioeconomic background, could have equal opportunities for developing their lives.

It is my intellectual conviction that inequality must be tackled because it affects human dignity, social cohesion and economic development. Accordingly, highly unequal societies produce the appropriate conditions for oppression and exploitation to rise, as shown in many countries, e.g. the post-dictatorship democracies in Latin America. One of the greatest problems our democracies faces nowadays is that so few people hold the majority of the wealth countries produce, as well as controlling media and political power. This creates a sort of social hierarchy that is a challenge to people enjoying the opportunities development brings. And this is a problem on a global-scale, that must to be tackled.

I am broadly interested in socioeconomic inequalities, particularly in the distribution of wealth in society. In particular, I am concerned about inequalities in the access to social services such as education, health and housing.

I applied to the AFp because it is the most important and relevant initiative in the world focused on fighting inequalities. Being part of the AFp will be crucial for me as it will connect me with a network of changemakers that will aim to challenge inequality across the globe. In an increasingly globalised world, international networks of policy makers are a pivotal element of successful large-scale structural reforms. I am excited about the opportunity to develop ties with a community of like-minded inequality scholars and professionals that will be addressing similar issues in varying contexts as I firmly believe that fighting inequalities is a task that must be addressed as a collective and multidisciplinary endeavour.

Through the MSc Inequalities and Social Science programme and my participation in the activities of the AFp I also expect to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to develop effective strategies for challenging inequalities.

In ten years’ time I hope to be able to lead structural social reforms to eliminate inequalities in my country so as to foster a fairer and more egalitarian society. In addition, as part of the Atlantic Fellows global network, I would like to contribute with my experience in structural reforms to other developing countries that need to carry out such transformations in order to fight and tackle inequalities.