Chile elections 2021: Gabriel Boric and José Antonio Kast collide with two opposing projects for Chile in a tough radio debate | International

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The presidential candidates in Chile José Antonio Kast and Gabriel Boric.
The presidential candidates in Chile José Antonio Kast and Gabriel Boric.MARTIN BERNETTI (AFP)

The Chilean presidential race is played vote by vote and the candidates for La Moneda have shown it this Friday, in the first of the two debates they will have before the second round on December 19. Only nine days before the elections, Gabriel Boric, deputy of the Broad Front in alliance with the Communist Party, and José Antonio Kast, of the extreme and conservative right, have made their different projects for Chile collide in a meeting organized by the union association of the Association of Radio Broadcasters of Chile (ARCHI), marked by direct confrontations between the applicants.

In an election that will be defined by the conquest of the moderate sectors and where the standard-bearer of the left is installed as the favorite, according to the trend of the last known polls, both Boric and Kast were in charge of clarifying for two hours and forty minutes. before the public opinion the changes they have made to their respective government programs in substantive matters such as the economy. In parallel, they defended the measures that they have maintained with a view to the ballot, some quite controversial (such as the creation of a ditch on the northern border of Chile to stop illegal immigration, proposed by Kast).

With a discourse based on family, homeland, order and freedom, the ultraconservative was consulted about his proposal to promote a constitutional reform for a new state of exception that would give the president greater powers (a qualified state of emergency), in case of disturbance of public order or damage to the security of the nation. “Do you want the president, without invoking more restrictive states of exception, to be able to order, intercept, open or register documents, all kinds of communications and arrest people at home and in places other than prisons?” one of the journalists. “That’s right,” replied Kast, who from the first round has managed to order Sebastián Piñera’s ruling right after his candidacy. “Is this okay?” “Yes,” said Kast, who explained that it is a proposal that should be approved by the new Congress and that Chile needs a more effective response against terrorism, extreme violence or destruction of public and private assets that have affected the country. in recent years. The journalist reminded him that “arresting in places other than prisons” was what Augusto Pinochet’s secret police did.

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It was a debate where the applicants had time to question each other directly. Kast consecutively told Boric what he considers to have been abrupt changes of opinion on relevant issues such as public safety and the refusal that, according to the leader of the Republican Party, his opponent has had to participate in the debates organized in the campaign of Second round. Boric’s darts aimed not only at proposals that would threaten public freedoms, but also at Kast’s proximity to the 17-year-old military dictatorship, from which it has not taken off, or at controversial proposals, such as increasing pension contributions from 10% to 14%, charged to the worker. On several occasions he accused Kast of lying, in a meeting that has stood out due to the hard confrontations between them.

Boric, who on Wednesday moderated his economic program – he will seek a collection of five points of GDP in the four years of Government -, this Friday showed his turn to moderation in different passages of the debate, which was broadcast by a thousand Chilean radios. He disavowed the senator in office of the Broad Front, Juan Ignacio Latorre, who assured a few hours ago that “in social security issues there is no private property as we understand it today,” a phrase that caused controversy because it was a sensitive issue for public opinion. Chilean, concerned about the destination of pension funds. According to Boric’s program, the Pension Fund Administrators (AFP), the basis of the Chilean individually funded system, will disappear, although it did establish that the money can be inherited.

The left-wing candidate made new winks to the moderate sectors of the opposition, who once made up the center-left Concertación and who have joined his campaign or shown support for his candidacy, such as former president Ricardo Lagos himself or the foundation linked to former President Michelle Bachelet. Although the irruption of his political generation was largely based on the generational replacement of the left and a deep criticism of the sectors that led the democratic transition, Boric reinforced the concepts of gradualism, dialogues and agreements, which marked the center-left governments between 1990 and 2010.

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“We have a duty to reach major agreements on issues that matter to Chileans,” he said in reference to the formation of the new Parliament, which from next March will be practically tied between the left and the right. “I believe in social democracy and in the collaboration of the public and private sectors and I do not like the hegemonies of any sector, as today in Chile we have the hegemony of the market over the public,” said Boric, pointing to one of the issues that have marked his campaign: the influence that the Communist Party will have in a possible government that he leads, which is not only the main formation of his alliance, but has also become a watchdog that the original roadmap is respected with a view to the changes they consider necessary for Chile.

Boric gave signals about public safety – he was questioned by a journalist from the Araucanía area for his measures to combat violence – and with respect to national symbols, which in the first round were used mainly by candidate Kast. The applicant for La Moneda not only clarified that he will keep them and that he would only change the motto of the shield – instead of by reason or force, he would like by force of reason-, but rather gave signals to the rural world about certain proposals to eliminate rodeo, an equestrian tradition that its sector considers animal abuse. “Traditions must be respected,” said Boric. “We must ensure that there is no animal abuse, but at the same time, maintain traditions,” he said on an issue that is especially sensitive for the south-central area of ​​Chile, where Kast had an advantage in the first round.

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A ditch on the border

The Republican, meanwhile, denied that he is going to repeal the abortion law on three grounds, as he stated in his first round program. The same as the merger of the Ministry of Women with another portfolio, a measure that also ruled out. But he maintains his proposal to have only consular relations with Cuba and Venezuela, not embassies, as well as the need to evaluate Chile’s permanence in the United Nations Security Council.

The candidate who moderated his tax cut – in the first round he proposed to lower them from 27% to 17%, but now made it dependent on growth – defended his controversial proposal to install a ditch on the northern border to appease irregular immigration. “The single ditch – not including the fences that would prevent animals and people from falling into them – costs about $ 10 million and we have calculated it for a trench three meters deep by three meters wide,” said Kast.

One of the moments of greatest tension between the two was observed when Kast refloated an old accusation of harassment against Boric, which dates back to alleged events that would have affected a woman in 2012, when the current 35-year-old deputy led the Federation of Students of the University of Chile. The matter was present in the first round campaign, Boric himself assured that he had “never” harassed any person and the matter was discussed by the spokespersons of his campaign, such as the communist deputy Camila Vallejo. This Friday, however, Kast questioned Boric with a question: “Did you apologize to the woman who accused you of abuse?” Using a concept other than harassment. Boric defended himself saying that he was fully available – because he has nothing to hide – to any investigation. At the end of the debate, the Republican apologized for having used the term “abuse” when it was “harassment.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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