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Latin America's first woman president
January 15, 2006 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Michelle Bachelet wins the Chilean presidential election, the first woman to do so. She's also a socialist, a single mom and an agnostic. Santiago is starting to fill up with car horns, and her opponent, rightist millionaire Sebastián Piñera, is supposed to concede any minute now.
posted by signal (87 comments total)

 
CIA'll be busy. Maybe they can mine the harbors.
posted by orthogonality at 2:08 PM on January 15, 2006


wonderful news.
posted by nola at 2:18 PM on January 15, 2006


GWB: a catalyst for change in South America.
posted by The White Hat at 2:18 PM on January 15, 2006


And interestingly enough, these newly-left states often play nicely with each other - Venezuela just offered to fuel Bolivia with natural gas in exchange for an in-kind agricultural payment, for instance.
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:21 PM on January 15, 2006


Throw on some Victor Jara, it's time to celebrate.
posted by iamck at 2:22 PM on January 15, 2006


Please remember Victor Jara / In the Santiago Stadium
posted by scody at 2:22 PM on January 15, 2006


iamck, jinx!
posted by scody at 2:23 PM on January 15, 2006


Wow, she's pretty much the diametrical opposite of the Norte Americano Bushista contingent upon first glance. Is it premature of me to sigh in relief that there is a foil to the right-wing madness in the US. . . that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction?

I'm certain that Bushco is not happy with this slide to the left in S.A. (npr link). Is it blind of me to hope that the era of puppet dictators like Pinochet and School of the Americas(wiki link) alumni is made impotent?

In the midst of dark times, I applaud S.A.'s opposition to Norte Americano hegemonic political aggression and blind imperial dogmatics.
posted by isopraxis at 2:23 PM on January 15, 2006


Actually, orthogonality and T.W.H., Bachelet will most likely continue the politics of Ricardo Lagos, also nominally a socialist, which are more of a classical-liberal bent, with some social measures thrown in, closer to Spanish Social Democrats than to spooky-communists. In terms of free trade and eliminating tarifs, we'ra a bit to the right of the US, and seen as a bit reactionary and right-wing compared to much of the rest of Latin America.
Having said that, I quote Andrew Cooke who said quite succintly: ¡Viva Chile, Mierda!.
posted by signal at 2:24 PM on January 15, 2006


GWB: a catalyst for change in South America.
posted by The White Hat


Credit where credit is due, even to the devil himself. Thank you Dubya and friends on behalf of sensible people everywhere.
posted by nofundy at 2:25 PM on January 15, 2006


Signal- knew I should have taken comparative gov't before snarking.
posted by The White Hat at 2:30 PM on January 15, 2006


The White Hat writes " GWB: a catalyst for change in South America."

I know the word "socialist" suggests a left-wing government, but Bachelet is decidedly center-left, and she supports a typical free market economy. It would also be wrong to mistake this for some sort of "revolution". Bachelet is coming from the same center-left coalition as the current president; in fact, she's currently a member of the cabinet. This election represents continuity, not change.

Does this make Bachelet the first female head-of-government in the Americas? Very exciting.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:32 PM on January 15, 2006


socialist in similar terms as canadian politics? Even right wing canadians are somewhat left of american democrats imho.

I'm just happy to hear about cool-heads prevailing in some places.
posted by isopraxis at 2:34 PM on January 15, 2006


Piñera did concede a few minutes ago. He was all smooth and car-salesmanly, as usual, big white smile and talking about how he "felt like a winner".
posted by signal at 2:35 PM on January 15, 2006


Um, doesn't Isabel Martinez de Peron count as a female president, thus making Bachelet not the first?
posted by goatdog at 2:38 PM on January 15, 2006


May she do for Chile what Chavez has done for Venezuela.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:39 PM on January 15, 2006


Ah, never mind. You were saying she's Chile's first female president, not the first in S.A.
posted by goatdog at 2:41 PM on January 15, 2006


I'd be quite happy if such a person could be elected president in the US. Not her politics, I mean, but her demographics (I don't know anything about Chilean politics, so I don't know if I agree with her or not).

It's disgustingly narrow, the demographics of national US political candidates, and the presidential demographics in the US make the national officials as a whole seem downright multi-cultural.
posted by teece at 2:42 PM on January 15, 2006


Oh, wait. You are saying she's the first, which is wrong. I'll go away now.
posted by goatdog at 2:42 PM on January 15, 2006


Signal's right about that, the Lagos-Bachelet coalition has been in power since 1990 and has instituted all manner of free-market reforms that the financial community loves. Markets typically freak out whenever there's an election approaching in Latin American nations, but were silent this time because both Bachelet and Pinera were expected to continue Lagos' biz-friendly policies. Bush & Co. luurv Chile's recent govt, at least compared with all the other leaders seen as major thorns. Chavez, Castro, Kirchner, soon Morales, and also Lula. In South America, Colombia's Uribe is the only really reliable U.S. ally.

(Sexist quote of the day, from good ol' Hugo Chavez, who when asked about Chile said the following, while giggling with a bunch of advisors: "We'll have to wait for official results, but right now it smells like women's perfume.")
posted by donpedro at 2:42 PM on January 15, 2006


An interesting point, to me, was that the fact that she's a woman, unmarried, with kids from 2 different fathers and an agnostic, wasn't really an issue at all, in this reportedly conservative, sexist and catholic country, which makes me proud of the political maturity of my fellow chileans. Her only opponent for the Concertacion (government coalition) nomination was Soledad Alvear, another woman, which puts a lie to many of the stereotypes about Chile and Latin America in general.
It's never been in good taste to make an issue of candidates personal lives in Chilean politics, but this result is especially upllifting.
Goatdog: she's the first female president to become so on her own, not taking over for her husband.
posted by signal at 2:43 PM on January 15, 2006


No, she's not (that last one was never actually elected, but the first two definitely count).
posted by goatdog at 2:45 PM on January 15, 2006


kwantsar - I get a 404 on that link - I was interested to see what it was.
posted by isopraxis at 2:46 PM on January 15, 2006


goatdog: woops.
posted by signal at 2:48 PM on January 15, 2006


Oh, hey, you're actually in Chile! Please keep us posted with person-on-the-street observations!
posted by goatdog at 2:53 PM on January 15, 2006


There were others besides Peron. However Bachelet's victory is significant in that it's the first time Latin America has seen a woman head of state for a major country who was not ushered into the office because she was married to a famous politician (who was usually dead when she came to power).

I also think it's significant in that Chile is pretty socially conservative, and Bachelet's personal history is anything but. A country where divorce was legalized a year ago, abortion is illegal, and men and women vote in separate booths (!) came to accept the candidate of an agnostic woman who's not only divorced but had her third child outside of marriage.
posted by donpedro at 2:53 PM on January 15, 2006


Try this, isopraxis (but you're not going to like it).
posted by Kwantsar at 2:54 PM on January 15, 2006


Crap. I'm echoing folks way too much here.
posted by donpedro at 2:54 PM on January 15, 2006



Awesome!

The Dispatch story had a bigger version of this picture until a couple of minutes ago...
posted by Chuckles at 2:55 PM on January 15, 2006


So, is she hot?

Hmm... I could go for a big bowl of Chili right now
posted by delmoi at 2:58 PM on January 15, 2006


goatdog: I will, I'm probably heading downtown to celebrate in a while, I'll let you know what the feeling is.
posted by signal at 2:58 PM on January 15, 2006


Kwantsar: As good as any usa today graph.
Egypt #1
USA 5th last?
Relatively speaking, it says nothing to me about my life.
Hang the DJ
posted by isopraxis at 2:59 PM on January 15, 2006


donpedro: However Bachelet's victory is significant in that it's the first time Latin America has seen a woman head of state for a major country who was not ushered into the office because she was married to a famous politician (who was usually dead when she came to power).

I know virtually nothing about the topic, but according to wikipedia Violeta Chamorro does not fit your description:
In 1952, Chamorro's husband, Pedro Chamorro, took over the anti-Somoza newspaper La Prensa and was frequently jailed for its content. Violeta Chamorro ran the newspaper after her husband's assassination in 1978.
...
Chamorro became the first female President of Nicaragua from 1990 to 1996
posted by Chuckles at 3:03 PM on January 15, 2006


Yeah, great link, Kwantsar. You've wowed us all.
posted by papakwanz at 3:09 PM on January 15, 2006


I'm not sure it's a useful graphic either, at least on its own. The biz community freaks out about Chavez, which could explain why the stock market sucked there last year: skittish investors. I think Venezuela's economy is doing OK -- though many observers pin that entirely on soaring oil prices and not on anything Chavez has done. In any case, Hugo is handing out petro cash to the poor, which keeps him popular at home, and he's helped Brazil and Argentina out with repaying foreign debt, which makes him every South American leaders' favorite neighbor. (Except Peru's Toledo. They're not getting along so well these days.)
posted by donpedro at 3:10 PM on January 15, 2006


isopraxis writes "socialist in similar terms as canadian politics? Even right wing canadians are somewhat left of american democrats imho."

signal could probably answer this better than me, but... In terms of providing government social services, Canadian socialists would probably be well left of Chilean socialists; Chileans are probably much more market-oriented. As an example, one big issue in this election was reformation of the government pension system. The pension system in Chile is one of the most stridently market-based pension systems in the world; it's not dissimilar from the system of private accounts proposed by Bush for the U.S. last year. While calling for significant reforms in this system, Bachelet did not come close to advocating an elimination of the private accounts.

On social issues, the average mainstream Chilean politicians would be significantly more conservative than the average mainstream Canadian politician, regardless of party affiliation.

Kwantsar writes "May she do for Chile what Chavez has done for Venezuela."

Huh? I don't follow. What's the connection to Chavez? He's no friend to free market advocates like Lagos and Bachelet.

Kwantsar writes "Try this, isopraxis (but you're not going to like it)."

Again, I don't get it. The Chilean stock market performed at about the same level as the US stock market last year. But why are you thanking Chavez? He's the president of Venezuela (with a very poorly-performing stock market, likely due to the fact that he's a nutcase.)

donpedro writes "...all the other leaders seen as major thorns. Chavez, Castro, Kirchner, soon Morales, and also Lula."

I don't think it's fair to say all these leaders are perceived by the US as "major thorns". Castro and Chavez, certainly. Kirchner a bit, maybe, but for different reasons entirely. As for Lula, I think that the US government perceives Brazil as much more an economic competitor than a potential client state, so the dynamic is different; it's also unfair to group a good-faith democratic politician in with nutbars like Chavez and Castro. Morales... we'll see; you could be right about that one.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:10 PM on January 15, 2006


interesting robato - although I do find the term nutbar to be a bit emotionally charged, I can handle it.

(threadjack) another crap graph
posted by isopraxis at 3:16 PM on January 15, 2006


viva chile! viva la revolucion!
posted by specialk420 at 3:16 PM on January 15, 2006


Chuckles: You're right, but that's why I threw in the qualifying adjective "major" before "country." I'm comfortable saying Chile's regional significance is much greater:

Chile: pop. 16M, GDP $169B
Nicaragua: pop. 5M, GDP $12B
(Source: CIA World Fact Book)


None of this is to downplay the significance of this for women in Latin America. (There's a major candidate in Peru this year too, but things aren't looking great for her at the moment.)
posted by donpedro at 3:18 PM on January 15, 2006


mr_roboto,

I definitely wouldn't throw them in with Chavez and Castro, although I realize that's what it sounded like. But Washington doesn't like the region's tilt to the left, and Lula and Kirchner are part of it.

In November, for example, Lula and Kirchner joined Chavez in torpedoing further talks on a hemispheric free trade agreement, pissing off the Bush administration to no end. I'm sure Washington wasn't thrilled later when they allowed for fast-tracking Venezuela's full membership in MercoSur. And wasn't Kirchner at odds with the U.S. govt and biz community over repayment terms for much of its foreign debt?

As for Evo, you're right, the jury's still out on what sort of relationship he'll have with Washington. Although since he got elected and traveled the world, he's saying an awful lot of pragmatic-sounding things.
posted by donpedro at 3:29 PM on January 15, 2006


mr roboto - Canada had a female head of government for a brief moment in 1993. And, of course, we've had a female head of state since 1952.
posted by magwich at 3:35 PM on January 15, 2006


wow
posted by shmegegge at 3:37 PM on January 15, 2006


[Raises tequila shot to NoticiasFiltro, goes to sports bar to watch NFL playoffs.]
posted by donpedro at 3:41 PM on January 15, 2006


donpedro writes "But Washington doesn't like the region's tilt to the left, and Lula and Kirchner are part of it. "

I disagree. I think that there are a couple things going on in the region, and I hope that the US government makes a distinction between them.

Chavez is legitimately worrisome. He's pretty much out in the open about trying to stymie US interests in the region, and he's using all of Venezuela's oil wealth to do it (which I'm sure the Venezuelan people will really appreciate in a decade or so, but that's another discussion...).

Brazil and Argentina will definitely side with Venezuela when it's in their interest, but that's just (geo)politics. The MercoSur deal, for instance, was all about getting access to Venezuelan oil and gas. South American leaders are certainly not about to cede any regional hegemony to Chavez, even if they're willing to take his oil.

Free trade deals are something else entirely; Brazil is not going to open up completely to the US until there's some compromise on American farm subsidies. Why the hell would they? Brazilian farmers don't need "free trade" competition from a subsidized producer.

And the Argentinean debt debacle was something else again. Kirchner is unpredictable, but this has nothing to do with being part of some emerging coherent South American Left. He's an opportunist, like any good politician.

I guess my point is: there are, of course, issues that cause tension between various South American countries and the US government. It's a mistake to group these issues together as part of some generalized conflict. Though I'm sure Chavez would be delighted to have the Bush Administration do so, as he seems to be itching for conflict.

Enjoy the playoffs!
posted by mr_roboto at 3:46 PM on January 15, 2006


She considered as "mistake to think Chavez is dangerous for Latin America. What is dangerous for the region is poverty, inequality, social unstableness, the fact that many native peoples do not feel integrated to their societies".

great comment, papakwanz, you've wowed us all.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:51 PM on January 15, 2006


Kwantsar, you aren't making any sense.

















and your fly is open.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:03 PM on January 15, 2006


The only thing I would say about the whole stock market decline is this: in the past 20 years or so, there has been something of a trend where wealth is being extracted from the middle and working classes and being deposited in the rich class. While many financial indicators are saying that rich people all over should be happier than ever, the overall economic condition for most people (as in salary in constant dolalrs, pensions, welfare, etc) has worsened.

So unless you do have a lot of money in the stock market, it's not the only indicator that counts. I do think that it's something of a bad thing these days, simply because "globalization" has a bit more of a stranglehold on the world economy, so to push away the free market is to isolate yourself in ways that could be bad long-term. But at the same time, all of the actions that countries are taking don't do much to alleviate the problems of real inequality, poverty, and routine consumer debt.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:13 PM on January 15, 2006


Well, I understand where Kwantsar is coming from. I mean, we really don't care for these brown folks one way or another.

Nosir, what we need is a reliable guy who'll do more or less what we tell 'im, when we tell 'im. We can throw a bit of money and a lot of guns his way, and that's that.

These other commie bastards, with their "using their resources to help their own people as opposed to doing our bidding" shit, why, they're just plain bad for business.

And of course, what's bad for business is bad for America, right Kwantsie?
posted by stenseng at 4:16 PM on January 15, 2006


Mandrake, have you never wondered why I drink only distilled water, or rain water, and only pure-grain alcohol?
posted by isopraxis at 4:28 PM on January 15, 2006


Stenseng, you are trolling. Kwanstar has nothing even faintly like that.
posted by LarryC at 4:29 PM on January 15, 2006


Good, stenseng. Nice of you to take a break from your sunday-evening pederasty to call me a racist.

Nowhere have I expressed hope for a politician to do the bidding of the US. Furthermore, communists don't have a great track record of helping their own people.

If you (like Ms. Bachelet) think Chavez isn't dangerous, then I really have no interest in an argument with you.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:31 PM on January 15, 2006


If you (like Ms. Bachelet) think Chavez isn't dangerous, then I really have no interest in an argument with you.

So, if someone doesn't already agree with you, your not going to argue the point?

Besides, do you really think that "poverty, inequality, social unstableness, the fact that many native peoples do not feel integrated to their societies" are less dangerous than Chavez?
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:42 PM on January 15, 2006


Nowhere have I expressed hope for a politician to do the bidding of the US.

No, you just wished that a nation would suffer from a economic decline because they voted for someone you don't feel comfortable about.

Furthermore, communists don't have a great track record of helping their own people.

With five minutes (or less, but I can see you're a bit slow) one can quickly determine Bachelet is not a communist.

And, really, your fly is like, wide open.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:47 PM on January 15, 2006


Furthermore, communists don't have a great track record of helping their own people.

A+++ BEST POLITICAL ANALYSIS EVAR, WOULD READ AGAIN.
posted by iamck at 5:17 PM on January 15, 2006


Ok, just got back from the celebration. Alas, I forgot my camera so you'll have to bear with a verbal description.
Walked down Alameda, the city's main street, towards downtown.
The streets where full of cars packed with people waving flags, honking horns and generally having a good time. The sidewalks were also packed with people heading down to the celebration, smiling, laughing, throwing confetti.
It was an impromptu carnival-esque atmosphere, people in costume, on bikes, wearing proganda-flags as dresses.
Many, many women of all ages and sizes wearing presidential-sashes, which looked really cool.
We converged in the middle of downtown, in front of the San Francisco Hotel, where they'd set up a stage. Tens of thousands of people, flags waving everywhere: communist flags, socialist flags, christian democorats, lots of multicolored Bachelet flags, flags from previous elections, Chilean flags, you name it. The lack of homogeneity looked awesome, like a spontaneous outburst of flags rather than a planned event.
There was music (lots of pinochet-era protest songs), and a speech from Michelle herself, thanking everybody, those who voted her and those who didn't, which M.L.W. and myself saw from a pizza parlor a few blocks away, because political celebrations are all good and well, but the crowd was a bit much. Plus we were hungry.
You can still hear the horns outside, but it's quieting down.
All in all, it was a good win. I think we will be very, very proud of our president, and how many countries can say that?
posted by signal at 5:27 PM on January 15, 2006


Excellent to read your report signal.
Thank you.
posted by isopraxis at 5:31 PM on January 15, 2006


So, if someone doesn't already agree with you, your not going to argue the point?

No, there are plenty of things worth arguing about. However, anyone who thinks Chavez is benign is a fool, and not worth the trifle. Are you one of those people who invites the Jehovah's Witnesses into the living room for tea and pastries?

And I'm not the one who invoked communism in this thread-- I merely responded.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:41 PM on January 15, 2006


signal, thanks for the description! Wish I were there, but will settle for the a.m. papers. Being in a capital for an election victory celebration is exciting. I agree with you that Chile has elected a president to be proud of, and the variety of flags is the sign of an impressive coalition. (Ah, coalition politics, why have ye forsaken the U.S.? I know, it's the other way around.) When I've been in that situation as an expat, I enjoy the carnival atmosphere regardless. At home, well, I kind of get upset if I don't get my way.

I think that there are a couple things going on in the region, and I hope that the US government makes a distinction between them.

I agree with what you're getting at here. I think sometimes the U.S. government makes the distinction, and sometimes it doesn't. By the way, I've enjoyed our exchange, mr_roboto. Appreciate your studied observations and measured tone, it's what I aspire to myself.
posted by donpedro at 5:49 PM on January 15, 2006


Kwantsar, though not a supporter of Chavez by any means, I think categorizing a democratically elected head of state as 'dangerous to the region' smacks a little too much of the paternalistic 'our backyard' policies of the '70s. I probably wouldn't have voted for Chavez if I were Venezuelan, but I agree 100% with Bachelet's comments, especially coming from a future head-of-state talking about one of her colleagues.
posted by signal at 5:50 PM on January 15, 2006


Stock market gains and social welfare: a zero sum game. Hell, the business pages crow about just how much a few thousand lay-offs is anticipated to spur a stock price.
posted by telstar at 6:10 PM on January 15, 2006


Here's quite a bit of information from Bloomberg.

posted by signal at 6:38 PM on January 15, 2006


Didn't see this in the Bloomberg piece, but I was impressed to learn a few days ago, and think it's worth noting here, that the ruling coalition Bachelet and Lagos belong to has reduced unemployment in Chile from 40 percent to 18 percent in recent years. And that, as Bloomberg notes, 2005 surplus was 4.5 percent of GDP, the highest among major Latin American economies. So much for the old canard about all socialists and center-left types being an economic death knell. Clinton posted pretty good numbers as a centrist Democrat too.
posted by donpedro at 6:49 PM on January 15, 2006


Good on her! How long do you think it'll take the current US regime to try and topple her administration?
posted by dejah420 at 6:52 PM on January 15, 2006


oh noes the stock market has gone down that makes hugo chavez super duper dangerous
posted by wakko at 6:57 PM on January 15, 2006


CLEARLY

WE

MUST

INVADE!
posted by wakko at 6:57 PM on January 15, 2006


"How can a country large as ours be scared of such a threat?
Well, if they won't work for us they're against us, you can bet.
They may be sovereign countries but you folks at home forget
That they all want want we have got, though they don't know it yet..."
posted by pompomtom at 6:58 PM on January 15, 2006


donpedro writes "So much for the old canard about all socialists and center-left types being an economic death knell."

I'm not sure that's ever been conventional wisdom outside of the Right. In addition to the countries that you cited, center-leftish governments have done well for the economies of Canada and the UK. Spain's looking good, too.

I also want to note with amusement (and some disappointment) that members are continuing to make posts to this thread in obvious ignorance of the political context of the election. Despite the word "socialist", it's ridiculous to suggest that Bachelet's election could possibly be perceived as a threat by Washington, even given the political tone-deafness of the current administration.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:16 PM on January 15, 2006


Hence, "canard." But although I wouldn't go so far as to call it "conventional wisdom," I think that for a lot of moderates, centrists, and so on -- in the United States, at least, which is the country I'm most familiar with politically -- the knee-jerk reaction is to assign intellectual ownership of sound economic policy to the right.
posted by donpedro at 7:29 PM on January 15, 2006


I'm speaking about popular perception, that is.
posted by donpedro at 7:30 PM on January 15, 2006


A good bio.
posted by signal at 7:36 PM on January 15, 2006


Chavez is only a threat in the sense that he has a big backyard full of petrochemicals, and he's not interested in being the United States' unconditional buttboy in the pricing and allocation of those resources.

For that, he's labeled "a danger to the region," and faces the brunt of our covert ops will.

From everything I've seen, Chavez is a smart cookie, and is making the noises he needs to make, and the alliances he needs to forge, to lead without strings from Washington attached.

Finally, and most importantly, he's an elected leader of a soveriegn nation, and it's clear that our long and glorious history of exploding cigars and bays of pigs are less than effective measures to shape other nations' governments.

Not to mention being antithetical to any notion of democracy.
posted by stenseng at 9:07 PM on January 15, 2006


Further, on the subject of Bachelet, does it make anyone else throw up in their mouth just a little, the notion that Chile...

FUCKING CHILE, has a more fundamentally ethical and reliable electoral system than the good ol' US of A?


I think we need to get out of this "exporting Democracy" business, as we ain't got enough left right here at home.
posted by stenseng at 9:10 PM on January 15, 2006




Now THIS is a guy you can rely on...
posted by stenseng at 9:25 PM on January 15, 2006


obviously Diebold did not make chile a priority.


"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The arc of the universe bends slowly but it always bends toward justice."

Let's hope Bachelet views this as a mandate to shine some sunlight on the Bush family and the Republican cabal's involvement in the deaths of of so many innocent Chileans.
posted by specialk420 at 9:38 PM on January 15, 2006


now this is guy you can rely on


posted by specialk420 at 9:43 PM on January 15, 2006


Hell, I'm still waiting for someone to shine some sunlight on the Bush family and the Republican cabal's involvement in the deaths of of so many innocent Americans.
posted by stenseng at 10:09 PM on January 15, 2006


Hmm. Kwantsar's link to the stock market as some sort of horrific indicator of an economic wasteland seems a bit silly to me.

I happen to notice that the good ol US is the 5th from the bottom, and we're the frickin' free-market capital of the world! (or at least one of it's biggest proponents) Surely if stock markets were the pure indicator of healthy capitalism we would be near the top?

And who's at the top? Egypt! Columbia! Saudi Arabia! Russia! I know when I think of top notch countries with healthy economies and strong human rights tendencies that those are the ones I think of...

I know Venezuela has problems, don't get me wrong, and I don't think Chavez is the cure, but his desire to try different approaches and empowering local people to build democracy seems to be far better than something like Saudi Arabia... But wait... Yeah, I guess since the Saudis have a nice economy, that means everything is ok.
posted by symbioid at 10:57 PM on January 15, 2006


heh. don't have a connection at the flat in la serena, so missed all this. and signal has explained everything better than i could anyway.

it's not a very good comparison, but the politics here are rather like in the uk - the main "left wing" party is so central that many on the left feel they have no representation. the communist party was urging people to spoil their votes (if you are registered - which is optional, but irreversible, afaik - you are legally obliged to vote, but don't have to make a valid vote) because there's a strong feeling that this government is giving too much the the "empresarios" - rich businessmen like piñera (hence the feeling of frustration - who do you vote for if you don't like such people?).

but in the end what seems to have swung it (with a surprisingly large majority by chilean standards) is the people on the far right who either didn't vote for the centre-right after their own loony-fascist candidate was excluded or who switched from far-right to centre-left (votes here are counted by sex - the presence of transvestites in the men's queue caused something of a media orgasm in the first round - and it seems that some women, who traditionally voted for the far right ("baby faced") candidate, switched to bachelet).

incidentally, next presedential elections i will be able to vote. while chileans abroad cannot, foreigners who've lived here for long enough can, apparently.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:52 AM on January 16, 2006


if (when!) pinochet dies, there's a fairly strong argument that he should have a state funeral. that will be "interesting", given the propensity for people here to run around in the streets throwing things, and the police playing on the other side with water cannon etc.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:55 AM on January 16, 2006


On the subject of Chavez, when the US assists and condones a military coup against you I posit you have every right to be pissed. And what the hell is our oil doing under his soil? That's the real question for Bushco.

The McCarthyites in the US never met a dictator or king they didn't like. Democratically elected leaders who put the interests of their people first, not so much.
posted by nofundy at 6:55 AM on January 16, 2006


Stock market gains and social welfare: a zero sum game

Hmm. Why is it then that those countries with the highest stock market capitalizations seem to have populations that have the highest life expectancies?

While those with no stock markets tend to have lower life expectancies?
posted by storybored at 9:01 AM on January 16, 2006


they're arguing about a graph of changes in stock markets. since it was a graph of changes either a very low or a very high value indicates something strange is happening to the economy (and/or the economy is very small, since they're normalized). so anyone that takes one extreme and compares it to the other to make some kind of point is pretty stupid.

but then what do you expect here? everyone has their conclusions lined up before they look at the data.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:19 AM on January 16, 2006


Source? Direct correlation?

Or could it simply be that more "advanced" societies (those that have stock markets,) also tend to have medicine, higher standards of living etc.

Are you saying owning stock makes people healthier?

Are you saying what's good for business is good for everyone?

What exactly is your point?
posted by stenseng at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2006


Or could it simply be that more "advanced" societies (those that have stock markets,) also tend to have medicine, higher standards of living etc.

The original poster said that stock market gains and social welfare is a zero sum game.

My point was exactly what you said. Given that stock markets are part and parcel of "advanced" societies, i.e. that the correlation points the other way, how does one arrive at the conclusion that there is a zero sum game?
posted by storybored at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2006


oh, I getcha. I dunno - not my assertion.
posted by stenseng at 12:25 PM on January 16, 2006


Kwanstar ' May she do for Chile what Chavez has done for Venezuela'

You hope that my country's economy takes a nosedive to prove some petty little point about how evil lefties are? You want me to be poorer and my people to once again face the threat of years of suffering, human rights abuses, etc., to make a fucking point?
How petty can you be, seriously?
posted by signal at 1:13 PM on January 16, 2006


Not that anyone's still reading this, but here's a pretty good editorial in the WaPo on Bachelet, and her and Chile's place in regional political context.

Ms. Bachelet -- an agnostic, a single mother, urbane and well-traveled (she attended middle school in Bethesda) -- would be at home in the social democratic parties of Western Europe.
[...]
One of the paradoxes of contemporary Latin America is the slowness, even among elites, to absorb the lessons of Chile's success. Its trade, as a percentage of its economy, is twice the regional average; so was its growth rate through the past 15 years. Since 1990, Chile's poverty rate has dropped from 38.5 percent to 18.8 percent; extreme poverty stands at 4 percent. In Venezuela, poverty rose from 43 to 53 percent during Mr. Chavez's first six years in office. Mr. Chavez seeks to extend his leadership, and what he calls his "socialism for the 21st century," across the region. Yet if Latin Americans can look beyond his hoary caudillo antics and simple-minded demagoguery, they will see that the real socialism of the 21st century is espoused by the very modern woman who was just elected president of Chile.

posted by donpedro at 7:10 AM on January 18, 2006


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