Piñera and Pastrana have now a first hand account, a direct witness position on repression in Venezuela. They saw the Nazional Guards everywhere, they were both somewhat threatened by diverse hecklers and possibly by “security”, they experienced personally the harshness and autism of the regime, etc, etc.
Maduro then doubled down and accused Piñera and Pastrana of enriching themselves from drug money (as if Piñera needed the money). This is particularly offensive to Pastrana, who was held prisoner by Pablo Escobar 27 years ago.
Pastrana, on his part, scored a dig or two on Maduro, referring to him as “my fellow countryman”, since Maduro may have been born in Colombia – which would disqualify Maduro from being president of Venezuela (video in Spanish),
Pastrana points out that he and Piñera went to the Ramo Verde jail on the regular visiting day, when no permits are required to see the inmates.
Just another day in the Communist Bolivarian Revolution.
Fernandez, 41, defeated incumbent Mayor Pedro Sabat of the center-right National Renovation party in Nunoa, a district of the capital. A socialist and veterinarian by trade, she served on the local council in the district after growing up in Cuba, where her mother Beatriz lived in exile after President Allende died during Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup.
The left’s biggest victory was in central Santiago, where Carolina Toha defeated Pablo Zalaquett of the ultra-conservative Independent Democratic Union. Toha served as former President Michelle Bachelet’s spokeswoman, and her father, Allende’s vice president, died after being jailed and tortured.
Some of my sources in the country believe that the particularly nasty campaign may have turned off citizens from participating; many of the right-leaning mayors were targets of mud-slinging, obnoxious claims by the left. Student demonstrations, while stirring the left, may have demotivated others now that voting is not compulsory.
Does this mean the democratic process has been undermined? We shall find out by next year’s presidential election.
For now, Sebastián Piñera’s odds of re-election are not looking very good.
Three large aftershocks from last month’s massive earthquake struck just as Chile’s new president took power, delivering a tangible reminder that the forces that dominated his predecessor’s final days will also shape Sebastián Piñera’s new conservative administration.
Mr. Piñera, a 60-year-old billionaire elected on a pledge to run Chile like a business, was traveling by car to his inauguration in the port city of Valparaiso late Thursday morning when one 6.9 magnitude quake hit. Two more struck later, prompting officials to rush through the swearing-in ceremony, cancel the postinauguration luncheon, and evacuate the congress building of assembled dignitaries, who included Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and Colombian President Álvaro Uribe.
Outside, in an impromptu press conference, Mr. Piñera’s first act as president was to announce a tsunami warning. “Citizens who live on the coast, please follow the preventive tsunami alert,” Mr. Piñera said. “The most important thing right now is making sure everyone is safe,”
There were no reports of tsunamis or fatalities from the aftershocks, and the alert was lifted in the early afternoon.
It’s a testament to Chile’s infrastructure that a 6.9 earthquake did so little damage, particularly after the prior two recent earthquakes – the 8.8 earthquake two Saturdays ago, and the 6.0 aftershock last week.
The Journal made an error in the caption for the above photo, where they say,
At the inauguration, Bolivian President Evo Morales, left, President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, center, and Peru’s President Alan Garcia, right, joked that the aftershocks gave them “a moment to dance.”
The man on the right (but only in the photo, not politically) is Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador.
(This election, like so many, is between the party of memory and the party of hope, past versus future. The Concertación’s only hope is that the majority of Chileans still take the left’s suffering during the Pinochet dictatorship so much to heart that they won’t vote for the presidential candidate they judge to be more closely allied to the dictatorship.
(Frei—and much more important—Frei’s father, the former Chilean President Eduard Frei Montalva (in office 1964-70) called for Marxist President Salvador Allende (1970-73) to be removed from office, by military coup if necessary. But they later were advocates of Chile’s return to democracy, and thus Pinochet opponents.
(Piñera, too, was a Pinochet opponent. He led the alliance of businessmen who loudly announced they would vote NO to Pinochet’s continuing in office in the crucial 1988 plebiscite. But his center-right political party, Renovación Nacional (RN), is allied with the farther-right UDI party, which is the home of most Pinochetistas.
Whether a billionaire businessman or a former president wins Chile’s presidential election Sunday, the outcome will reflect a broader trend in Latin America — the rise of the pragmatic centrist.
After years of victories by leftist candidates, market-friendly moderates are gaining ground in the region.
Some are emerging from the right, such as Sebastian Piñera, 60, an airline magnate who has held a razor-thin lead in the polls ahead of Chile’s runoff vote.
Political analysts say that Piñera and the ruling coalition candidate, Eduardo Frei, 67, who was president from 1994 to 2000, differ in style but not markedly in the substance of their proposals. Irrespective of whom voters choose, Chile is unlikely to veer from the centrist, free-market path that has brought the nation prosperity since the end of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990.
Political analysts say the right is not making a comeback in Latin America, where a mix of leftist rabble-rousers and European-style socialists have taken power since a bombastic former army colonel, Hugo Chávez, won office in Venezuela in 1998 by pledging to overturn the old political order.
Instead, voters are showing a preference for moderates rather than firebrand nationalists who preach class warfare and state intervention in the economy, according to political analysts and recent polls.
“Voters are more calculating and rational than we give them credit for,” said Christopher Sabatini, senior policy director at the Council of the Americas in New York. “People are making the choice to support market economies and rational leaders.”
That was the case in Panama,
In Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, a supermarket-chain owner with close ties to the United States, won the presidency in May. In Brazil, the popular governor of Sao Paulo state, José Serra, enjoys a solid lead in the polls over his more left-leaning rival ahead of October’s presidential election. Polls show the winner in Costa Rica’s election next month will probably be the ruling party’s Laura Chinchilla, who is expected to closely hew to the current government’s market-friendly policies.
Even the Communists are calling themselves moderate,
But two prominent leftists who won office last year — former rebel José “Pepe” Mujica in Uruguay and Mauricio Funes, head of a party that was born out of the guerrilla movement in El Salvador — have highlighted middle-of-the-road policies.
They say they are inspired by the region’s most admired moderate, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. A former union activist, Lula is known for his innovative anti-poverty programs and a cautious oversight of the economy that has won Wall Street approval.
“The Latin American voter wants refrigerators and washing machines — they want prosperity,” said Marta Lagos, director of Chile’s Latinobarometro polling company, which surveys political attitudes in 18 Latin American countries. “They have abandoned the ideological flag.”
Hugo Chávez’s support in the region is at an all-time low of 27% approval rating, while 59 percent of Latin Americans surveyed last month said a market economy is best for their country.
Whatever the outcome of the election in Chile, the social policies will continue along with the judicious monetary policy.
This, along with Latin Americans’ new support of market economies, is great news for the region.
I’ll post more on the election once the results are in.