Chile: Bachelet Wins Presidency, Aims To End Inequality

Chile welcomes Michelle Bachelet for the second time as the narrow country’s newest president following an unpopular presidency by outgoing Sebastian Pinera, reports BBC.

Bachelet served her first term as president in 2006 but was barred by Chile’s constitution to run for a second consecutive term. In 2013, she filed her candidacy under the Socialist Party of Chile and won 64 percent of the votes against conservative economist Evelyn Matthei.

The new president of Chile was sworn in Tuesday in the city of Valparaiso. The ceremony was attended by leaders of the South American continent, including Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Ecuadorean Rafael Correa, Bolivian leader Evo Morales and Peru president Ollanta Humalla.

During the campaigns, Bachelet revealed plans for Chile which enthused majority of the population but were dubbed by some political analysts as too ambitious.

Bachelet says she will allocate $15 billion dollars on improving healthcare, education and household income in Chile.

The lady president promises free university education throughout Chile which will be paid for by increasing taxes in the country.

Another on her list of plans is to reform policies that have remained unchanged since Chile dictator Augustin Pinochet’s reign from 1973 to 1990.

She also aims to end the unequal distribution of wealth and the wide disparity between the rich and poor in Chile.

In her inaugural speech, Bachelet told the citizens of Chile that there is only one enemy which is inequality. She encourages all Chileans to come together and put an end to the problem of inequality.

Critics say that these proposals, which would cost billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money, will be difficult to implement, considering the significant slowdown in the economy of Chile during the previous years.

Nevertheless, Bachelet’s loyal supporters are optimistic of Chile’s future under the socialist leader.

A former doctor, Michelle Bachelet was appointed Heath Minister by former president Ricardo Lagos during his term in 2000.

Bachelet was a victim of torture during the bloody two-decade leadership of Augusto Pinochet in Chile. Her father died from torture and her political mentor, physician Carlos Lorca, was reportedly abducted by Pinochet’s forces.

In 2010, Bachelet was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as the head of the United Nations agency for women.

Bachelet will inherit many problems that have plagued Chile during the recent years.

Despite being one of the richest countries in South America, Chile has recently suffered from economic slowdowns despite boosts under Pinera’s leadership.

Natural disasters have also proven to be great obstacles for Chile’s growth. Four years ago, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake shook Chile, killing 1000 people and destroying 30 billion dollars worth of property – 18 percent of the annual gross domestic product of Chile.

[Image from Matt Hintsa via Flickr]