14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 17 September 2022 — Former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos has taken Chile’s current president Gabriel Boric as his disciple, although he doesn’t know it. The former social democratic president is practically half a century older than the brand-new socialist president. Lagos is 84 years old. He has seen it all. Boric is the youngest president in Latin America; he is only 35 years old. Protecting the boy is a sound decision. The interview with Lagos appeared in Madrid’s El País. No one in his right mind wants things to go wrong for Boric. Chile continues to be the benchmark for Latin Americans, the nation that was about to enter the first world. It is true that it had a stumble in October 2019, but I think that everything has passed.
This was also called “Octoberism.” I read the report of that atrocious period, which many Chileans find surprisingly reasonable, especially teenagers, on the website of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy, “Chile: return from hell,” written by Peruvian Luis Gonzales Posada, an APRA follower and former Minister of Justice and Foreign Affairs:
“Violence erupted to inexplicable levels. 118 of 136 subway stations and numerous cars were damaged or destroyed. Several churches, including the 150-year-old La Concepción, were burned and hooded criminals entered the temples to destroy religious images and take them out to the street to use them as barricades. There was looting in 200 supermarkets, pharmacies and stores. The statues of the Conquistadores were pulled down by Mapuche protesters. Military barracks and 400 carabineros stations were attacked with firearms and Molotov cocktails. Neither the curfew nor the state of emergency calmed the angry protest. More than 3 billion dollars and 200 thousand jobs were lost, the currency was devalued, the GDP was reduced by one point and the stock market fell 13%. There were 34 dead, 9,000 arrested, 12,000 injured and 3,400 hospitalized, including 800 carabineros.”
That is why Chilean novelist and politician Roberto Ampuero, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, with great literary experience and in the ideological field, described those events as “atrocious.” In his youth he was a member of the Chilean Communist Party and lived in Cuba. He wrote an excellent crime novel, Demonio (Demon,) in which he ventures the hypothesis that it was an international coup attempt of the unrepentant left. The protagonist of the novel is Cayetano Brulé, his permanent detective, who is hired to locate a missing painter, and ends up discovering an international plot after the events of October 2019.
In any case, the unexpectedness of the cataclysm succeeded in paralyzing, at least for a time, the appearance of the basic Latin American “model,” and was on the verge of preventing the development of Chile. In the second presidential term of Peruvian Alan García, it was smart to be guided by the market instead of relying on “centralized planning.” In the countries that imitated Chile, the accounts of the private pension system were essential to create a volume of savings that would give stability to nations. However, those of us who believed that private investment accounts would give stability to families, since they created an extra interest in individual people, were wrong.
It didn’t happen like that. We didn’t count on youngsters, the high school kids who would be the workforce in the happy destruction of the environment. Nor did we count on the insistent propaganda against the Chicago boys, and even Milton Friedman, and against the “unsupportive-tendencies-that-inevitably-emerged-from-the-neoliberal-constructions.” It was irresponsible not to respond to all the mindless people who attacked from many universities and communication sites the efforts to rescue Chile from mediocrity. “Mindless” is perhaps the best description of a “mind captured” by nonsense that is usually subservient to the communist left and the fascistic right in our current moment. People tend to forget that the revolution against the “old regime” was made precisely in favor of liberal principles.
For example, the globalization that prevented nationalism. There is not the slightest doubt that Chile benefited from the “free trade agreements” signed with many countries. Free trade was never so intense. For example, consumerism, repudiated by hundreds of years of religious preaching that favored the spiritual or physical penalty of interests, and opposed the free use of savings. For example, the deregulations that encouraged investments in Chile (and in any place that chose bureaucratic simplification). For example, the preference for statism, so Latin American, so Roman, which gave the State permanent possession of the subsoil instead of giving it to the owner.
Is it worth to continue? The kicking (62% against 38%) that was given to a new Constitution was a return to the path of growth, not an endorsement of Pinochetism, as Gustavo Petro, the new president of Colombia, stupidly said. Chile returned from hell. It peeked out and didn’t like what it saw. Ricardo Lagos, a social democrat ideologically akin to Felipe González, who has already governed prudently, is right to guide Gabriel Boric. Nobody in his right mind wants him to fail.
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