Left reinforces its position in Latin America
After years of bloodthirsty, tyrannical, Fascist dictatorships backed by Washington, the last decade has seen progressive regimes installed across Latin America as the people take the reigns of power into their own hands. Yesterday, Chile elected its first woman president, Michelle Bachelet, who will continue the centre-left policy of her predecessor, Ricardo Lagos Escobar.
With 53.5% of the vote, Michelle Bachelet, 54, beat the right-wing candidate, Sebastian Pinera, to become Chile's first ever woman president, swept to power on a promise of more work and a continuation of President Lagos' socially progressive policies. She has promised to enhance the role played by women and indiginous communities in Chile.
From student of medicine to politician
Michelle Bachelet was a medicine student at the time of the coup d'etat of General Pinochet, supported by Washington, which installed a murderous regime (1973-1990), during which time her father, Brigadier-General Alberto Bachelet, was tortured to death (1975). After being held at the Villa Grimaldi concentration camp, Michelle and her mother (the Socialist activist Angela Jeria) fled abroad (Australia and Germany), where she continued her studies, before returning to Chile in 1979, graduating in 1982.
After joining the Young Socialists, her political career began with the return of democracy in 1990 and in 1994, she became the advisor to the Minister of Health, after which she went to the USA to take a Master's in Military Strategy, returning to Chile to become the advisor to the Minister of Defence and in 1999, directior of Ricardo Lagos' presidential campaign.
Michelle Bachelet was Health Minister From 2000 to 2002, when she was nominated Defence Minister.
After taking office in March, Michelle Bachelet has pledged to undertake programmes to redistribute the country's wealth and alter the election system, making it more direct. However, her real test will be in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, where the vested interests of the political Right are maintained, for the time being.