By Peter Wood – Contributor
In a little less than a month on the 21st of November the southern American country of Chile will have presidential elections and the left-wing candidate Gabriel Boric of the “apruebo dignidad” political alliance is predicted to be the most popular in most polls (see for example: Poll Tracker: Chile’s 2021 Presidential Race | AS/COA (as-coa.org)).
So why is this significant? As of lately, Chile has been in a tumultuous situation with their incumbent president, Sebastian Piñera, known to be one of the most corrupt presidents of Chile with his popularity falling enormously after his poor handling of the 2019-2020 Chilean protests which had initially started due to his poor handling of the economy. For those who don’t know Piñera had declared a state of emergency on the 18th of October shortly after the protests had begun and had mobilized the Chilean army in the streets of all major cities in an effort to ‘restore order’ and ‘prevent the destruction of public property’. These protests however would go on anyway and were especially characterized by sometimes very severe eye injuries caused by the police’s use of “rubber” bullets and tear gas with reportedly 1863 people being injured making these some of the most violent protests to ever happen.
A very popular demand by the protestors was also the creation of a new constitution which would change the current one made in the 1980s under brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet after his coup of the democratically elected Salvador Allende in 1973, a demand which was finally met after a plebiscite was held in October 2020 with 78% voting in favour of changing the Pinochet-era constitution.
Piñera’s scandals however didn’t just limit themselves to the 2019-2020 protests, in fact, Piñera is also very well known for his poor choice in cabinet members such as Cristián Larroulet during his first presidency, who was an economic advisor under Pinochet. Or Baldo Prokurica during his second presidency, the minister of mining under Pinochet. Especially fascinating was his pick for interior minister in 2018 Andrés Chadwick, an apparently ‘former’ Pinochet supporter best known for his and the justice minister’s (Hernán Larraín) support for the Colonia Dignidad: a German enclave in Chile established by former Nazi and paedophile Paul Schäfer, an establishment also used under Pinochet as a means of torturing and murdering political prisoners. And finally, as of lately, Piñera’s name was found to be on the recently released Pandora papers which hopefully says enough about this man’s trustworthiness than anything else.
Clearly, right-wing governments like Piñera’s have only managed to so far aggravate the political turmoil in Chile instead of solving it, and hopefully, the turn to a left-wing government led by Gabriel Boric will see Chile return to being a more stable democracy in the South American continent, and would also mark Chile’s return to the pink tide movement along with other nations which have recently seen left-wing parties make some extremely positive social and economic changes in countries like Bolivia, Mexico and hopefully Peru in the coming years. Boric has promised in his campaign to focus much more on social welfare than Piñera and promises to more equitably distribute Chile’s resources in an effort to reduce wealth inequalities that have been plaguing the country for years. If elected Boric would also be Chile’s youngest elected president being only 35 at the time of writing this article, which is also a signifier for not only Chile but the rest of the world of the advent of a new younger generations’ rise to prominence in politics.
Chile’s future is yet to be decided but having observed recent voting outcomes throughout the country in local constituencies it seems as though the left is gaining prominence which can be seen as a natural outcome considering the class conflict that has plagued the nation in these past few years, we can only hope Gabriel Boric will lead Chile to a brighter future and maybe even restart what Salvador Allende never had a chance to complete in 1973. Whatever the outcome of the election may be I wish the best of luck to Boric and to the Chilean people; Hopefully this time the CIA won’t get involved in your countries’ affairs.