Thinking Citizen Blog — Young Leaders of the World (Part VI): Gabriel Boric, 36, President of Chile
Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day
Today’s Topic: Young Leaders of the World (Part VI): Gabriel Boric, 36, President of Chile (2021 — )
This series began with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand (2/20). Subsequent posts have been: Volodymyr Zelesky, Ukraine (3/13), Mette Frederiksen, Denmark (3/20), Kaja Kallas, Estonia (3/27), and Sanna Marin, Finland (4/3). Today, we move from Europe to the Western Hemisphere and south to Chile. Will the newly elected President be another Chavez, Ortega, or Castro? or does he promise a “new model for the left”? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
BACKGROUND — Croatian and Catalan Descent, from Punta Arenas (capital of Chile’s southern most province), youngest head of government in the world
1. Attended but never graduated from law school. A leader of student protest movements. Elected in 2013 and again in 2017 to the Chamber of Deputies from the Magallanes and Antarctica district (above). The population of the Magallanes district is 165,593. Chile population: 17 million.
2. The 2021 he was the presidential candidate of the Apruebo Dignidad, a broad coalition of the left including the Democratic Socialist “Broad Front,” the Communist Party, and several smaller parties.
3. “On 19 December 2021, Boric defeated Jose Antonio Kast in the second round of the presidential election obtaining 55.9% of the votes. He is the youngest president in Chile’s history and the youngest state leader in the world, as well as the president elected with the highest number of votes in the country’s history.”
THE POSITIVE VIEW — “a new model for the left,” (Stephen Kinzer, Boston Globe) and “a President for all Chileans” (Boric)
1. “Looking for some good news in today’s conflict-torn world? It’s coming from near Antarctica — specifically from the extreme south of Chile. That region produced a bearded, tattooed firebrand who has just been inaugurated as his country’s youngest-ever-president. Half a century after the United States promoted the overthrow of President Salvador Allende, the Chilean wheel has turned full circle.”
2. “In case anyone missed the point, he named Allende’s granddaughter minister of defense. She now oversees the army that overthrew her grandfather.”
3. “The cabinet he named is majority female and includes the country’s first openly gay ministers.”
NB: “In world affairs, his main focus has been advocacy of Palestinian rights; he has called Israel a “murderous state”…..Two other South American countries, Bolivia and Uruguay, have already embraced the democratic leftism that Boric preaches, Brazil and Colombia may elect leaders of the same bent later. If they do, Boric mused after his election, “a tremendously intesting axis can be put together.”
THE PESSIMISTIC VIEW — the end of the Chilean miracle and the beginning of another Venezuela-like nightmare
1.“While Mr. Kast backed the principles and institutions that brought unprecedented levels of prosperity, his rival pledged a new order based on left-wing populism and identity politics.”
2. “The president-elect, who has openly supported left-wing terrorist organizations such as the Frente Patriotico Manuel Rodriguez and terrorist groups that operate in southern Chile, has assailed the moderate left as traitors to the Chilean people for subscribing to the “neoliberal model.” Mr. Boric is aligned with Chile’s Communist Party, which supports the dictatorships in Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and Nicaragua.”
3.“From the early 1980s to 2014 poverty fell from 45% of the population to 8%, while life expectancy rose from 69 to 79. The middle class as defined by the World Bank grew from 23.7% of the population in 1990 to 64.3% in 2015, and extreme poverty fell from 34.5% to 2.5%. Between 1990 and 2015 the income of the richest 10% grew a total of 30% while the income of the poorest 10% increased 145%.” Will the free market model, the goose that laid this golden egg, be slaughtered?
NB: “Yet the most dangerous effects of Mr. Boric’s victory may well be seen in the new constitution. The election results may embolden the radical left that holds sway over Chile’s constitutional convention, which is expected to wrap up next July. The left may come up with a more aggressively populist draft than would have been the case if Mr. Kast had won. If Chileans approve such a constitution in next year’s plebiscite, their country’s fate as another failed Latin American nation will be sealed.”
IN HIS OWN WORDS
1. “If Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave.”
2.“We are a generation that emerged in public life demanding our rights be respected as rights and not treated like consumer goods or a business,”
3. “We no longer will permit that the poor keep paying the price of Chile’s inequality.”
FOOTNOTE — A FEW TIDBITS — Geographic, Historical, Literary
1. Chile is the southernmost country in the world and the closest to Antarctica. Easter Island is part of Chile.
2. The Incas conquered Chile in the 15th century, the Spanish defeated the Incas in the mid-16th century. Chileans declared their independence from Spain in 1818.
3. The capital of Santiago has a metropolitan population of about 8 million. It is surrounded by Andes mountains causing a serious smog problem. It is named after St. James.
NB: Chile’s long history of stable democracy was interrupted by the Pinochet dictatorship from 1973 to 1990. The greatest Chilean writer is Pablo Neruda (1904–1973) whom Gabriel Garcia Marquez called “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” What do you think?
For the last four years of posts organized by theme:
Two special attachments below:
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
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