Gabriel Boric, the face of the generation that gave the Chilean Concertación ‘el sorpasso’ | International

Gabriel Boric closes the Election Campaign for Approve Dignity in Casablanca, Chile, on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
Gabriel Boric closes the Election Campaign for Approve Dignity in Casablanca, Chile, on Thursday, November 18, 2021.MARTIN BERNETTI (AFP)

Gabriel Boric leads the left generation that broke into Chilean politics in the last decade, turning the tables and practically extinguishing the center-left Concertación that governed Chile between 1990 and 2010. Born 35 years ago in Punta Arenas –in the extreme south de Chile–, as a law student at the University of Chile, he was one of those who led the student mobilizations in 2011 that put the first government of Sebastián Piñera on the ropes. But it was in 2012 when it reached prominence when the Federation of Students of the University of Chile (FECh) was taken away from the communist Camila Vallejo, one of the main faces of the protest, with which they ran for Congress in 2013.

In March 2014 – without a tie or suit and with long hair – Boric made his debut in the Chamber of Deputies, along with Vallejo herself and two other young student leaders who were not over 30 years old. Leader of the Social Convergence party, one of the formations that make up the Broad Front, at the beginning of this year he accepted a candidacy for La Moneda, in a race that today has him as one of the favorites, according to various polls. If the polls are right, this Sunday he will win his way to the December 19 ballot, where he will measure forces with the conservative candidate, José Antonio Kast.

It has been a rapid ascent and your critics have pointed it out to you. “He went through the university between strikes and assemblies, he has not finished his career and from the paternal allowance he jumped to the parliamentary,” said Gerardo Varela, who was Piñera’s Minister of Education, a few months ago. It is also frequent that he is told that he has not graduated as a lawyer, because he went to Congress from the student leadership. “The Broad Front is, in some sense, an imitation of Podemos, although its leader Gabriel Boric does not wear a ponytail or teach at the university since he has not graduated yet,” the influential columnist Carlos Peña wrote in an analysis of EL PAÍS. From a wealthy family in the Magallanes region, he was born in 1986, so he did not experience the dictatorship, which ended in 1990, in his own flesh. It is the one that has been portrayed as the generation without fear, because he knew the horror of repression by stories and writings, not in the first person like the elders, before those who rebel politically.

With a father who was a member of the Christian Democrats for years – one of the backbones of the center-left Concertación coalition – Boric is part of that generation of Frente Amplio militants who are under 40 years of age and who have settled in politics with a critical judgment of the transition. In 2016, as a deputy, he analyzed the common elements between Podemos in Spain and the Frente Amplio in Chile, due to the processes experienced by both countries: “Bipartisanship, neoliberal consensus, little generational change, demobilization of society, progressive privatization of basic services and social rights ”, he assured in an interview with EL PAÍS. Boric said that he closely followed the emergence of Podemos from the electoral point of view, its territorial deployment and its theoretical discussions, because both groups are inspired by political writings by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe about left-wing populisms. Unlike the Spanish, however, the Chilean Broad Front would be giving and overtaking to the conventional center-left.

This new left-wing alternative in Chile hides important paradoxes, such as the fact that they are inches away from reaching the Government at the hands of the Communist Party, which maintains its full adherence to the Marxist-Leninist doctrine, although there is talk of intestinal movements led by the young leadership , like Vallejo herself. Both formations – one that will be 100 years old in 2022 and the other that has not yet reached five years – share a critical view of the years of Concertación governments, which they describe as neoliberal, although it was from sectors of the center-left itself that they were was opening the way. “The young people of the Broad Front are children of militants of traditional parties,” recalled Michelle Bachelet a few years ago, referring to several of the leaders of that sector whose parents had important roles in the governments between 1990 and 2010.

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In Congress, Boric arrived with high percentages of votes – he is running for Magallanes, his land, and his second term ends in March – but he has faced complex moments, especially a certain volatility that criticizes him in his relationship with the extreme left. In 2018, for example, he met in Paris with one of those convicted of the murder in democracy of the right-wing senator Jaime Guzmán, forcing him to affirm that he did not relativize Guzmán’s crime and apologize in person to the parliamentarian’s family. murdered. Then he was embarrassed by the circulation of a video where he received a T-shirt with Guzmán as a gift with a bullet in his forehead. “Good! Hold on! ”Boric said upon receiving it. The right-wing UDI party, in which Guzmán was a member, accused him of “apology for violence” and Boric the deputy apologized again: “I reviewed the video and I was ashamed.”

His leadership began to flourish over the rest of his generation after the social outbreak two years ago. Although he came to the epicenter of the protests in Santiago to rebuke the military guarding the place, in the midst of a wave of unprecedented violence, Boric played a central role in the political agreement of November 15, 2019, which gave rise to the constituent road. . Not only did he manage to get the Broad Front to fold – unlike the Communist Party, which was subtracted from the transversal agreement – but he also paid high political costs with his own sector to reach agreements. At the end of that convulsed 2019, they rebuked him and attacked him in the middle of a public thoroughfare, in the center of Santiago: “You sold the people, you treacherous,” they told him, while they doused him with beer.

Like Kast in his own sector, Boric has been an unlikely candidate on the left. Although a year ago he pointed out on television that he did not have “enough experience” – in a phrase that has haunted him in the campaign – in the primaries of last July the Approve Dignity alliance surprisingly prevailed against the communist candidate Daniel Jadue, who was the favorite according to the polls. In the race to La Moneda, he has raised the flag of change and has led to his mill a good part of the socialist militancy, which formally supports the candidacy of the Christian Democrat Yasna Provoste. Salvador Allende’s granddaughter, Deputy Maya Fernández Allende, has been part of those who have turned to support the most leftist candidate for the presidency of Chile, since her own grandfather ruled in the seventies.

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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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