By Austin Inyang
Gabriel Boric, a 35-year old legislator and former student activist who came to prominence during past demonstrations against the legacies of Chile’s authoritarian past, with its legacy of human rights abuses and socioeconomic injustices, was on Sunday elected the country’s next President after a highly contentious campaign marked by concerns over rising crime and insecurity.
He overcame the challenge of his leading opponent, Jose Antonio Kast, a right-wing politician who campaigned on a platform of law and order and economic stability, and also professes his admiration for Chile’s former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, whose rule (from 1973 to 1990) saw tremendous economic growth, but also horrific human rights abuses – with tens of thousands of people disappearing and ending up in mass graves.
Boric’s victory climaxes a leftward revival in Chile, and reflects the concern of the people over the social and economic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic in the country – and dissatisfaction with the current government’s efforts to curb its spread.
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