Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

Gabriel Boric, 36, sworn in as president to herald new era for Chile

Gabriel Boric, 36, sworn in as president to herald new era for Chile

Progressive former student leader hopes to transform a country still living in the shadow of the Pinochet dictatorship

After a dizzying rise from student protest leader to head of state in just over a decade, Gabriel Boric has been sworn in as Chile’s youngest ever president.

“Know that we are going to do our best to rise to the challenges we face as a country,” he said as he received the presidential sash at a ceremony in the port city of Valparaíso.

A month on from his 36th birthday, Boric was flanked by several of the student leaders who served alongside him through two terms in congress and are now joining his cabinet.

“This is the best generation of young politicians Chile has had in 50 years,” says Luis Maira, 81, a former minister who was a mentor for the new president. “Without a shadow of a doubt, Boric is leading us into a new chapter of Chilean history.”

Chile was rocked by months of unrest in 2019 over inequality, corruption and inadequate social welfare. Many of the protesters’ demands echoed those which Boric and his contemporaries had pushed in a student movement which demanded that Chile be rebuilt with the concerns of its people at the core.

It is a vision that Boric has vowed to achieve as president – although a divided congress will probably hamper progress.

In the background, representatives from every corner of Chile are drafting a new constitution to replace Gen Augusto Pinochet’s 1980 charter. The new constitution will be put to a referendum later this year.

The new government will also have to negotiate heightened tensions between the state and indigenous Mapuche in the south, and a migration crisis in the north.

Boric makes a point of insisting that history does not begin with his generation, but there is no denying their impact on politics.

“He always wanted to know where those who held power came from and what they had done before,” said Maira.

Gabriel Boric, then a student leader, took part in a march in Santiago in 2012 to demand that President Sebastián Piñera’s government overhaul the education system.

In the winter of 2011, Boric and his contemporaries paralysed Santiago with their movement demanding free, high-quality education for all, catapulting them into the national consciousness.

A year later, Boric took the reins at the University of Chile’s student union in the centre of the capital, where bright swirls of colour now adorn a building once occupied by Pinochet’s feared secret police.

“He always had something about him, and when he put himself forward for congress I joked that he might become president,” remembered Sonia Moreno, 59, who has worked at the union for more than a decade.

As she flicked through pictures of her and a long-haired Boric on her phone, she recalled how he pushed her to finish her schooling and even helped raise money for an operation on her arm.

“I have so much faith in him because he’s a warrior – he does what he says. He has a strong character and he’s determined,” she said.

In 2013, Boric was elected to Chile’s congress representing Magallanes, Chile’s southernmost region, vowing to change Chile from the bottom up.

Those around him paint a picture of a voracious reader and patient negotiator, determined to collect opinions, bridge political divisions and build majorities.

Boric has repeatedly said that as part of his ambition to decentralise Chile, he hopes to leave the presidency with less power than when he inherited it.

He has also been careful to signpost the changing of the times with his early choices.

Boric reiterated his backing for Chile’s constitutional process the morning after the election, and last month announced a female-majority cabinet – a symbol of the feminist Chile he is looking to build.

He will live downtown in Barrio Yungay, where eclectic rows of low-rise homes and graffitied facades line cobbled streets – a far cry from the outgoing president, the billionaire Sebastián Piñera, who has a large house in Santiago’s affluent north-eastern suburbs.

The home Boric has chosen sits between streets named Freedom and Hope.

“If Boric is able to oversee the transition from one constitution to another, and from one generation to the next, then I would consider that a success,” said Maira.

“If he can do that, then the effects will be felt across Latin America, as he could be remembered as the leader of a new era in a region that has rarely found consensus.”


Related Articles

Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman.
Yellen hints at ‘national security’ probe into Twitter purchase
Elon Musk reinstates Donald Trump's Twitter account.
Good news: US moves to shield Saudi crown prince in journalist killing
George W. Bush and Barack Obama will hold back-to-back disinformation conferences
Mission Improbable: Tom Cruise & Queen Elizabeth
Miss Argentina and Miss Puerto Rico are not single anymore
Boris Johnson is about to sign a contract with an American company to get millions for giving speeches. Something he did until very recently for free.
Solar + Powerwall ensures you never lose power, even if the grid goes down
Bavarian Prime Minister Söder: "There is no reason for mask obligations, no lockdowns anymore”