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Last December 19, 2021, Chileans overwhelmingly voted for the then unemployed student leader and former member of the communist youth, Gabriel Boric, to become president of the most developed nation in South America. Thus, at only 35 years of age, the candidate for the “Apruebo Dignidad” coalition became the youngest elected president of Chile, and subsequently, the youngest president in the world.
In the months following his election and before assuming power, Boric launched a campaign to improve his image with the purpose of presenting himself as a moderate, progressive leader, capable of reconciling Chileans.
On March 11, 2022, he finally took office and promised to “repair the wounds of the social outbreak.” He further vowed to promote his egalitarian agenda to eliminate “inequalities” and pledged not to interfere in the campaign to approve the new constitution in the country. However, the hopeful future that Chileans envisioned with Boric fell apart in less than six months, and the romance between the socialist leader and the population seems to have come to an end in its first winter.
Although Gabriel Boric was elected last December with 55.8% of the votes, the latest polls by the Chilean pollster Cadem show that his approval has dropped to 37%, and that 56% of the population disapproves of the socialist leader’s administration.
Since the millennial took office, one controversy after another has been unleashed, and scandals have overwhelmed his government. One of the most notable conflicts has been with the Mapuche tribe. Boric, who presented himself as an ally of the indigenous groups, promised he would attend to their every whim, thinking that he would have them in the palm of his hand when he took power. Nevertheless, reality hit him in the forehead once in Palacio de la Moneda, as Mapuches were not satisfied with a couple of nice words. Mapuches demanded Boric expropriate lands to be granted to them, and in view of the impossibility of this political task, they started carrying out terrorist acts. The result: the president —a former ally of the indigenous movements— ordered the militarization of the Mapuche zone in the south of Chile.
It was at that moment that Gabriel Boric realized that university politics are quite different from protecting the rule of law of the nation he now leads.
The Mapuche conflict began to expose Boric’s shortcomings, not because he was a hypocrite, but because of the difficulty of maintaining a childish, innocent, communist discourse that works for young university students, but not for actual people.
To top off his low popularity, the Chilean peso began to devalue rapidly, due in large part to the fear of investors and big businessmen of the former communist youth leader’s economic policies. As the Chilean peso devalued, surpassing for the first time in its history the barrier of 1,000 to the dollar, fears grew, and the president had no choice but to ask the Central Bank to intervene in the exchange market with 25 billion dollars to try to stop the peso’s fall. This move caused its price to drop to the $900 barrier, but it remains to be seen how much longer the Chilean currency can withstand the pressure.
To Boric’s unpopularity, his evident lack of experience, and the social and economic problems faced by Chile, a new challenge is added, in this case demographic, since according to a publication of the Chilean media El Líbero, 86,000 Chileans have left the South American country since last year. This had not happened in Chile for decades, and it has been pronounced in the last months after the arrival of the inexperienced socialist to power.
As if that were not enough, the project for a new constitution discreetly promoted by Boric, currently has only 38% approval and 48% rejection, demonstrating the absolute dissatisfaction of the Chilean people with the newly elected president.
A few months ago, millions of Chileans shouted, “Chile woke up!” in the streets. It seems now that they have woken up to live a real nightmare, as the dream of Chilean socialism seems to have collided with reality, and for now, Boric’s adventure in the Palacio de la Moneda has been anything but pleasant.
Emmanuel Rincón is a lawyer, writer, novelist and essayist. He has won several international literary awards. He is Editor-at-large at El American // Emmanuel Rincón es abogado, escritor, novelista y ensayista. Ganador de diversos premios literarios internacionales. Es editor-at-large en El American