And Santiago de Chile experienced an explosion of joy. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Santiago and other cities in the country to celebrate the arrival of a new left to La Moneda, the one represented by Gabriel Boric. On March 11, Boric will be 36 years old. He will be the youngest president in the history of Chile, and also the most voted: this Sunday he obtained 4.6 million votes, almost a million more than his rival, José Antonio Kast. It was not ten o’clock at night when Boric went up to a stage mounted on the Alameda, one meter from the Government headquarters. He had already spoken with President Sebastián Piñera and had met with Kast, the defeated one. The crowd gathered on the main avenue of the capital was shocking. “We are facing a historical turn and we do not have to miss it,” he said, aware of the change that his coming to power represents. “This will be a government with its feet on the street, decisions will not be made within four walls of La Moneda,” he promised.
The families waved flags of Chile, the LgTBiq + community, Mapuche and with the motto “Boric Presidente” in all the colors of the rainbow. There were families, older but, above all, young. “He is the most voted president in the history of Chile”, was the introductory phrase with which the followers exploded. So did fireworks, banned in the country. “We must maintain this enthusiasm throughout my government,” Boric told them at the start of his speech. Boric read a message that he summarized in ten pages. He extended a hand to Kast, his rival, whom he urged “to build bridges so that our compatriots can live better”; warned that “the reasons for the social outbreak” of October 2019 “are still present”; He said that Chilean economic development has “feet of clay” because “it does not reach the most needy”; and he promised women that they will be “protagonists” of his Government.
There was no room for a pin around the stage set up in the Alameda. Thousands of people had been waiting for hours to hear Boric’s first speech. Around nine o’clock at night, two cars guarded by policemen on motorcycles made their way with difficulty through the crowd until they could no longer advance. In the second the president-elect came. Shouts, applause, fireworks. “Get off, get off!” Shouted those present. And he did. He arrived in a jacket and shirt without a tie, with that presidential look that he acquired in the final stretch of the campaign. The elected president who came to La Moneda raising the demands of the street walked among his followers with a smile before addressing the citizens.
There were whistles when he mentioned the lack of public transportation in popular neighborhoods during election day, which overshadowed the first stage of the day. There were more whistles from the public when he thanked Franco Parisi, third in the first round, and even more when he did the same to José Antonio Kast. “We are going to need them all,” he said, continuing the unifying tone of the speech. When mentioning how he will defend human rights in his government, the public recovered a song from the 2019 riots. “Piñera (…) murderer, just like Pinochet.” With skill, Boric managed to turn the song into that of “justice, truth, no impunity.”
Boric also had definitions outside of the written speech that he had led. As when he promised a health system “that does not discriminate between rich and poor” and “decent pensions for those who worked to make Chile great.” And he fired at the private pension system, which he promised to eliminate during the campaign. “The AFPs in Chile, which earn absurd figures at the expense of the work of Chileans, are part of the problem. We are going to defend a public and autonomous non-profit and non-AFP system, he said.
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Boric will collide with a Congress in which he is tied with the right to advance the structural changes he proposes. He has said, however, that the parity of forces is an “invitation and obligation” to dialogue. “Our project is more democracy”, he advanced, and for that reason he will defend “the Constituent process to have a Magna Carta that is one of encounter and not of division, and not like the one they imposed by blood and fire in 1980”, referring to the approved by Pinochet in dictatorship, and still in force.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.