Elections in Chile: Great Malls | Opinion

Gabriel Boric, president-elect of Chile, at the La Moneda palace.
Gabriel Boric, president-elect of Chile, at the La Moneda palace.RODRIGO GARRIDO (REUTERS)

Today I remember those twenty-somethings who, shortly after the military coup against Allende in 1973, crowded into the Venezuelan Embassy in Santiago de Chile. A handful of them, seasoned journalists already, despite their youth, were at the time indicted by a military court in Caracas. The reason was a publication that some general judged defamatory of the armed institution.

The amazement and horror at the Pinochetist barbarism, whose crimes were just beginning, dominated for several days with their disturbed nights the incessant conversation of that young woman who, like so many young Latin Americans, had come to Chile to see the Allendista experiment closely when the revolution Cuban was barely eleven years old.

Many of us had already left the Communist Youth and were marching behind Teodoro Petkoff in a formation with a clear advanced social democratic vocation.

We were promptly evacuated to Caracas on a Venezuelan Air Force flight sent by the conservative government of Rafael Caldera, whom we opposed, just in time to vote in the elections that Carlos Andrés Pérez won.

What was lived and seen in Chile, especially the tragic memory of Salvador Allende, added everything to the first, intense, electoral experience of our left-wing lives made us fervent democrats forever.

Much has changed our minds since then and, certainly, time and perhaps too many ill-advised reading have made me something of a liberal skeptic.

However, what the left has achieved in Chile in the last 30 years has almost invariably enjoyed my sympathy. Perhaps that is why the new twist that Boric’s election entails is stirring up waves of youth. I’m talking about emotions, of course; also of democratic convictions.

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The events of recent times in Latin America, notably the manifestations of violence in our large cities, as well as the electoral inclination to the left, disturb many of my fellow exiles.

Most have withdrawn their frustration towards “Trumpista-Uribista-Bolsonarista” positions when it comes to judging and, without further examination, dismiss all the upheavals that the region registers as the exclusive work of a protégé forum in Puebla and the insidious designs of Nicolás Mature.

To me, who alone I see these things from Bogotá, it distresses me to see leaders of the Venezuelan opposition express themselves about the complex Chilean reality with the same obtuse and savage reductionism of a twitter witch Venezuelan from Doral County. It is at times like this that I enthusiastically recommend reading Vampire lunchby the superb Chilean novelist Carlos Franz.

Written in the middle of the last decade, Franz’s novel addresses, among other issues, the type of claim that the “Boric generation” makes to the years of the Concertación. Venezuelan opposition Washingtonians, like Leopoldo López, would do well to read it.

López has reached the height of allowing himself to go to Santiago, just in the final stretch of the campaign, and make rude warnings there about the consequences of drafting a Constitution, something around which there is already a majority agreement in Chile.

In fact, the violent governance crisis of two years ago has been finding a way out in Chile. The electoral resolution of this crisis, without cries of fraud and adhering to the civilist forms that every republican transition demands, precisely models the way out that Venezuelans would like to give to a lethal discord that has lasted for a quarter of a century.

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The Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaidó, apart from its manifest and indecent subjection to Washington, as aberrant as the Cuban intrusion into the neurophysiology of Nicolás Maduro, does not seem to notice that in our continent, undergoing urgent changes, the reactive affinity with Trump, Uribe and Kast has no future.

Boric has held unequivocal positions of repudiation of the violation of human rights in Maduro’s Venezuela and of rejection of the double moral standard with which the planetary left has judged Latin American autocrats.

His speech as president-elect speaks of “responsible changes”, based on broad agreements. They are very laudable purposes that, in view of his overwhelming electoral victory and the mandate that she grants, only Boric himself could frustrate. Hopefully this does not happen.

Venezuelan Democrats will do well to make the distinction soon between what Boric and Maduro stand for. For now, I’m for Boric. Chile deserves that the kid does well and that he does better than Salvador Allende.

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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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