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President Sebastián Piñera suggested to the president-elect, Gabriel Boric, to take a photo when entering the palace and another one when leaving. The date of the second photo is doubtful. Chileans voted for a president for four years, but a communist disguised as a social democrat like Boric could rule for 12 years if the Constitutional Convention, controlled by the radical left, extends the presidential term and approves reelection.
The Chilean model
Chile returned to democracy during the years of the collapse of Soviet power. The military dictatorship that adopted a moderate opening to the market as a successful economic policy narrowly lost a plebiscite and handed over power in a negotiation that tied the hands of the Chilean left.
With a timid opening to the free market, the Chilean model retained much of the traditional neo-mercantilism but moderated it with openness to international trade and an independent central bank with sound monetary policy. “One key to success is that fiscal transfers to the disadvantaged were subsidiary, so the left was unable to exploit them for political patronage,” explains Professor Vanessa Kaiser, director of the Hannah Arendt Chair at the Universidad Autónoma de Chile, in an exclusive interview for El American.
I will add that a successful system of individually funded pension funds relieved the Chilean treasury of one of the greatest burdens of Western democracies: the taxpayer-paid, pay-as-you-go pension system. Chile enjoyed the highest economic growth in the region and reduced inequality, becoming the most upwardly mobile economy in Latin America for more than two decades.
“But the corruption of the political leadership brought the model into disrepute and allowed the growth of spending through rent capture. Public spending in Chile grew 70% between 2008 and 2018, concentrating on political clientelism and rent capture by neo-mercantilism,” Kaiser added. “As the left achieved hegemony over the press and the academy, its own corruption is not news and manages to present itself as an alternative,” she concluded.
In statements for El American, Chile-based journalist and strategic communications consultant Gabriel Salas explains that while the Chilean center right adopted the “depoliticization of politics” advocated by intellectuals such as Jaime Guzmán, the left embarked on its long march of disinformation to install a false matrix of opinion on inequality.
I will add that with leftist hegemony in the academy, press and unions, Bachelet’s second government radicalized itself by increasing spending and applying regulations of ideological and clientelistic content. This caused a slowdown in economic growth that a disinformed population tended to attribute to the supposed failure of the model.
The new Chilean left
A new radical neo-Marxist left formed in the elite universities emerged, rapidly displacing the old, barely radicalized center-left. The new left was neo-Marxist and revolutionary and strategically resorted to street agitation, arson, looting and destruction of property. Faced with this scenario, a cowed Piñera accepted the call for a Constitutional Convention.
In statements for El American, Eugenio Guerrero, Researcher at the Chilean think tank Fundación Para el Progreso, agrees with Kaiser that the discrediting of a political class concentrated on rent-seeking opened the way to the new radical left that promised violent rupture and re-foundation through a new constitution. “The neo-Marxism of the Frente Amplio displaced the discredited old left of La Concertación by confronting an ideologically disarmed political right,” Guerrero added.
“After the so-called ‘social outburst’ of 2019, the political right yielded everything to a violent left that achieved an absolute majority in a Convention imposed through arson and looting. A leader of that ultra-left won the presidency yesterday after the unilateral ideological disarmament of a right wing incapable of combating a hegemonic but false opinion matrix,” Guerrero concluded.
In conclusion, Boric’s populist spending program added to an inevitable expansion of “social” rights in the new Constitution will reverse growth and exponentially increase spending, making monetary policy stability unsustainable.
In addition, Piñera canceled a contract with a Chinese company for Chilean identity cards and passports. However, Beijing was not too upset because it expects Boric to gradually align Chile with it and against Washington.
Guillermo Rodríguez is a professor of Political Economy in the extension area of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences at Universidad Monteávila, in Caracas. A researcher at the Juan de Mariana Center and author of several books // Guillermo es profesor de Economía Política en el área de extensión de la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas de la Universidad Monteávila, en Caracas, investigador en el Centro Juan de Mariana y autor de varios libros