The new president of Chile, with tattoos and without a tie, agnostic in a Catholic family, promises not to expose democracy and marks distances with leftist dictatorships
In ‘The two sides of the coin’, one of the television programs with the highest audience in Chile, Don Francisco, the presenter, interviewed Gabriel Boric Font (Punta Arenas, 1986) shortly before he was elected president of this country for bulky majority (55.86% of the votes). In it, Boric was invited to read a letter he had sent to his fellow students when he was just 9 years old.
Under the title ‘Run for President’, the boy Gabriel wrote: “If you vote for me I promise to be a good president, maybe I will not give you chocolates or complete the album. I may not be like Eduardo Frei, nor like Fujimori, nor like Bill Clinton, but I am sure that I am at least a good course president. I will also try to make our course a more orderly, cleaner course, I also promise to replace lost things such as pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners and rulers. I was elected president in Primero, but at that time I did not know what it was to be president. Therefore, I was not well. Now I am ready and I promise to be a good president, and, please, if you want to vote for me think about it, because if you are going to vote for me just because I am your friend and you do not care who comes out, do not vote for me. Thanks a lot”.
Twenty-six years later, the boy Gabriel has become at 35 years the youngest president in the history of Chile and the most voted, with 4,620,671 supporters. This time he has not written a letter. The title of this new story is that hope won out over fear. And this time he carries in his briefcase of illusions a project for the transformation of a country that two years ago experienced a major social revolt to tackle inequalities, led by a generation of young leftists, among which Gabriel Boric stood out.
In his first speech he greeted in the different languages that the country has: Rapanui, Aymara and Mapuche, indigenous peoples with whom he has committed to meet their demands. This time his promises are a monumental challenge. It aspires to improve health, raise wages and pensions, at the same time that it intends to reduce the working day from 48 hours to 40 a week and offer free transportation to all citizens. He has promised that he will give everything so as not to disappoint the Chilean people. It also guarantees to close the wounds, to unite and unite the country more to achieve a better Chile. He indicates that he wants to be a president who when his term ends will have less power than when he started.
The slogan installed on his twitter account is a phrase by Albert Camus from the book ‘Ethics and politics’ that says “In politics, doubt must follow conviction like a shadow.” Many international analysts believe that the generational change it represents for Chilean politics may have repercussions in other Latin American countries. Despite the fact that he won the elections representing the Party Approve Dignity, in coalition with the Broad Front and the Communist Party, there are many who consider that Boric will go down in history not only as the president who governed for all Chileans. Also that it will bring an authentic democratic left in Latin America, far from the dictatorial and populist models exhibited by Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, regimes to which three years ago it launched harsh criticism for the violation of human rights.
Among his promises, Boric has also said that he will be a president who will take care of democracy and will not expose it, who will listen more than he will speak. He proposes dialogue and not only with those of his generation, but also with “those who came before us, in their triumphs and failures.”
“Let’s not idealize anyone”
The triumph of this former student leader over the far-right José Antonio Kast keeps Chile in an enormous state of illusion and hope. “There is a very positive wind with good reception, but let’s not idealize anyone, starting with me,” said the president who a few days ago received the reinforcement of the vaccine against Covid-19, also very active in Chile.
Son of a Croatian father and Catalan mother, Gabriel Boric is the eldest of three brothers. Simón (32 years old) is a journalist and Tomás (29), who suffered from cancer as a child, is a geographer. The young president, who lives in the center of Santiago with the Greek anthropologist, political scientist and feminist Irina Karamanos, wears tattoos on his body and has so far appeared without a tie at all events. He is considered an excellent person, a man with good intentions, very talented, affable and empathetic, capable of connecting with children and the elderly.
He declares himself an agnostic despite being born in a Catholic home, claims to read the Bible and also confesses to being a frustrated, romantic and passionate poet. He is a man who inspires confidence, who stimulates the feeling of unity, of family, which until now gives off very deep feelings that the Chilean people needed after two very hard years due to the pandemic and after the social outbreak.
That boy born in the south of Chile, touching Antarctica, almost at the end of the world, who asked for the vote to be president of his course and who later became a student leader, has now arrived at the Palacio de la Moneda with a demand for changes that serve to achieve the long-awaited transformation of Chile. His program is flawed and the criticism of the few opponents it has is that it does not scare off foreign investors. There are those who argue from the right that if he does not fulfill his promises soon, another social outbreak could occur. But the Chilean people recite aloud that “hope won out over fear.”