SANTIAGO – The president of the Chile, Gabriel Boricgave a long interview to the American magazine Teamin which he spoke about his relationship with the governments of Latin Americaincluding the authorities of the Venezuela and Nicaraguaand called for a reaction from the region if there is a coup attempt in the Brazilian elections. A few days away from a crucial moment for his administration, the president also spoke of his plans after this Sunday’s referendum.
“If there is an attempt, as there was in the Boliviafor example, in 2020, where accusations of fraud ended up being used to justify a coup d’état, Latin America has to react together to prevent this from happening”, replied Boric when asked what he would do if Jair Bolsonaro do not accept the result of the October elections.
But the president also commented on the letter for democracy organized by the USP Law School.
“It was very promising to see the letter from São Paulo, which gathers one million signatures in favor of democracy, from a wide range [da sociedade e da política]. I think it was a strong sign of Brazilian society.”
The manifesto, written in July in reaction to Bolsonaro’s attacks on electronic voting machines, initially had 3,000 signatories from different sectors of civil society and saw the number of adhesions grow considerably after it was opened to the general public on July 26. Earlier this month the letter surpassed the 1 million signatures mark.
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Last Monday, 29, Chile summoned the Brazilian ambassador to Santiago, Paulo Pacheco, for consultations after Bolsonaro’s statements against the Chilean leader, whom he accused of “burning the subway” in the 2019 protests, the chancellor said. Antonia Urrejola. The accusation was made in the first electoral debate between the presidential candidates last Sunday, 28.
Left in Latin America
Boric also had to answer about other Latin American leaders, especially those on the authoritarian left, whom he seeks to keep his political distance from. “I am a deeply democratic leftist. I think the authoritarian drifts that the leaders allowed to the left have done a lot of damage not only to the idea of the left, but also to their own people. That’s why I’m a Democrat first and foremost,” he said.
“I cannot be outraged when rights are violated in Palestine, but not in Nicaragua. When the defense of human rights is partial, it loses legitimacy. I am very critical of the authoritarian drifts of the left in the region, and this has cost me a lot of criticism in my political sector. Sometimes in my industry there is not much desire to criticize yours. And I think that’s a mistake.”
The 36-year-old president cited Squid and Gustavo Petro – new president of Colombia – as examples of hope for a left that I would like to work with. “And in Chile we are going to do it differently. I’m also hopeful that with some of the new governments – Petro’s, for example, or potentially Lula’s if he returns – we can move in that direction.”
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Boric was also asked about his criticism of the Summit of the Americas that left out Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela. “Deleting didn’t work to fix things. See Cuba. was excluded from [Organização dos Estados Americanos] in the 70’s. Did that have any impact? I would rather be able to say to Daniel Ortega that I do not agree with him and that he should release political prisoners – [como] Dora Maria Téllez – to say it to his face and confront him. If we have multilateral events and we only have those that agree together, it no longer makes sense.”
The magazine also asked Boric’s opinion about the other youth leader in the region, Nayib Bukele in El Salvador and whether he considered him an autocrat. “I don’t know him personally and he hasn’t participated in multilateral summits. And if you freely choose not to participate, that’s suspect. Why not face scrutiny from your peers? From what I’ve studied and from my conversations with Salvadorans, there is indeed an authoritarian tendency to tackle a really serious problem: gangs. I know it’s a very difficult situation and it has to be tackled very decisively, but it cannot be done by undermining democracy. The truth is, I don’t identify with the way Bukele is leading his government. He probably feels the same way about me.”
Next Sunday, September 4th, Chileans will vote in a plebiscite to say whether they approve or reject the text delivered by the constitutional convention on July 4th. After an entry plebiscite that had 78% approval for a new Magna Carta, the latest polls of voting intentions point to a possible victory for the rejection. A scenario that worries the Boric government.
“We still have consensus on the need for a new constitution and the need to update the foundations of our society,” he told Time if he wins the rejection. “I am convinced that we will get there, regardless of the September 4 result. Now, we as a government have a duty to govern, no matter what. There are problems that go beyond constitutional talk. Rising cost of living, inflation, security, children’s rights, education, healthcare reform, tax reform, we’re going to keep working on it all. If the rejection wins, it will take us a little longer, but we will get there.”
He praised the text of the new Constitution and defends that changes must be made later, in Congress, after a victory of the Approval next Sunday. “I think it’s positive [o texto]. It’s a breakthrough. It addresses issues that are really important not only for Chile, but for the world. It has a vision of harmony between development and care for the environment, which is really alien to the constitutions of the 20th century. It embodies a feminist perspective, which is critical. And it establishes some tremendously important things, towards which we have to progressively advance: workers’ rights, the diffusion of opportunities and resources outside Santiago. I have a good opinion about the project. There are always things that can be improved, and we are having this debate. But it is a big step for Chile.”