Leftist easily wins presidency in Chile

In a recent election, a leftist has won the presidency in Chile.

Leftist candidate Gabriel Boric has won Chile’s presidential election to become the country’s youngest ever leader.

In what was expected to be a tight race, the 35-year-old former student protest leader defeated his far-right rival José Antonio Kast by 10 points.

Mr Boric told supporters he would look after democracy, promising curbs on Chile’s neoliberal free market economy.

He will lead a country that has been rocked in recent years by mass protests against inequality and corruption.

Mr Boric’s victory prompted celebrations on the streets of the capital Santiago, with his supporters waving flags and honking car horns.

In his speech, Mr Boric said he was taking on the job with humility and a “tremendous sense of responsibility”, vowing to “firmly fight against the privileges of a few”.

Official results gave Mr Boric 56% of the votes against Mr Kast’s 44%. Mr Kast conceded defeat barely an hour-and-a-half after polls closed, and with around half of ballots counted.

Once the most stable economy in Latin America, Chile has one of the world’s largest income gaps, with 1% of the population owning 25% of the country’s wealth, according to the United Nations.

Mr Boric has promised to address this inequality by expanding social rights and reforming Chile’s pension and healthcare systems, as well as reducing the work week from 45 to 40 hours, and boosting green investment.

His rival, meanwhile, stood on a platform of law and order, pledging cuts to tax and social spending. Mr Kast also defended the legacy of Gen Pinochet, who took power in a coup and ruled the country from 1973 to 1990. Under his leadership more than 3,000 people were murdered by the state or disappeared.

The BBC article, whitewashing history to hide the ugly facts of imperialism, does not mention that Pinochet’s coup and brutal rule was enabled by the US facilitating and supporting the coup that put him in power because they could not tolerate the socialist Salvador Allende being president, despite him having won in a free and fair election. Allende was killed in the coup, which I am sure occasioned celebrations in the White House. That was just one of the many crimes of Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon.

The US believes in democracy as long as the people they like win elections. Boric will have to watch his back. Although Kissinger no longer holds any government position, he is still alive (probably because he sold his soul to the devil) and the policies he advocated are permanent features of US imperialism.


  1. billseymour says

    We’ll see whether the US installs another Pinochet.  I certainly hope not, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    The BBC article, whitewashing history to hide the ugly facts of imperialism…

    It’s a single, limited-length online news article. To jump straight to “whitewashing” because it doesn’t mention CIA involvement in 1973 seems rather harsh.

  3. Mano Singham says

    Rob @#2,

    The BBC, like much of the mainstream media in the US and UK, downplays the ugly features of US and UK imperialism. The fact that they discuss the Pinochet coup without mentioning US involvement did not surprise me in the least.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    Mano @5: I’ve watched a BBC documentary which covered the CIA’s covert involvement overseas since its inception, including the Pinochet coup.

    I’ve read articles in the NYT (and the WaPo, and various UK newspapers) which detail CIA involvement in the coup, from pretty much the time it happened onwards, including this 2016 op-ed by Ariel Dorfman.

    Your criterion for “downplaying” seems to be that any mention of the 1973 coup should include mention of the USA’s involvement.

  5. says

    One of my good friends is one of the people that the Pinochet regime tried to “disappear”. When I visited him in Santiago in 2014, he showed me the place he was held prisoner. He said that the only thing that saved him after they ruptured his spleen was that all the bodies were packed so tightly that he could not move, which gave the blood a chance to clot and then heal.

    I was surprised to find out that the Chilean constitution was still the one that Pinochet had put in place. But there is a new constitutional convention to replace it, part of this leftward swing. When I was there, I was surprised by the markets with folks barely holding on trying to sell goods like wool socks (from alpacas!). The “neoliberalism” just hadn’t changed. However, my friend also said that the Pinochet era mainly just dissolved. While he had escaped, nobody ever came looking for him, and the rest of the population viewed things the same way. But the huge advantage of the rich continued. It may finally change now.


  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    ahcuah @7: Nice article.

    In grad school around 1980, I met a Chilean student. Silly me assumed at first that she was a leftist (in hindsight, that was a really silly assumption, given that Pinochet was still in power). She went on for a while about how the coup and subsequent repression (read mass murder) were necessary to “maintain order”. Sinking feeling…

  7. Mano Singham says

    Rob @#6,

    The propaganda model of mainstream western media is far more subtle than to never talk about these things. The point is to mention them in some places (thus enabling them to claim objectivity) but then ignore, downplay, or subtly slant them the rest of the time. Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman showed how this works in their book Manufacturing Consent. This article specifically discusses how the BBC propaganda model operates.

    There is an excellent video of Chomsky teaching a BBC interviewer Andrew Marr how he is part of a propaganda system.

    Incidentally, NPR is very similar to the BBC in how its propaganda model operates.

  8. Rob Grigjanis says

    Mano @9: I’ve certainly long been aware that Big Media is not all it should be, thanks in no small part to Chomsky and many others. The treatment of Al Gore in the 2000 election, the NYT WMD debacle, the very common two-sideserism, etc. But seeing ‘downplaying’ in a single news article (not an analysis) seems a stretch.

    About the article you linked to, “Noam Chomsky: the silence, distortions and propaganda of BBC News”. It quotes from an interview in which Chomsky doesn’t even mention the BBC. Do you not think the title is misleading?

  9. mnb0 says

    For once I’m with RobG. “Pinochet’s coup and brutal rule was enabled by the US facilitating and supporting the coup” has very little to do with the outcome of these elections. You could as well complain about the brutal genocides committed by Chilean governments on Indians like the Selk’nam not being mentioned. Had justice been done in that country from the early 17th Century on Boric (not exactly an Indian) wouldn’t have become president in the first place.
    Another fact that gets downplayed is that Allende’s economic policy was disastrous from 1970 on. Is it coincidence that the disastrous economy of Venezuela also never gets a mention on blogs like yours and other sources?

    Nothing above contradicts Chomsky’s analysis. I’ve seen it happen before my eyes in my native Netherlands. Dutch press and TV got “liberalized” (ie left to free market) in the late 1980’s. Nowadays former quality papers like Volkskrant, Trouw and NRC have been largely gleichgeschaltet, not by a fascist regime (English WIkipedia: Gleichschaltung), but because all Dutch paper media are owned by two Flemish billionaires.
    You simply picked the wrong example and neglect that leftist (remember, I’m one myself) sources tend to do the same.

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