Boric's inauguration in Chile: the country's drastic change of political direction

This Friday, a former protest leader and left-wing parliamentarian received the presidential sash from billionaire Sebastián Piñera and became the country's youngest president.

Gabriel Boric, 36, was sworn in as Chile's president on Friday 11/03/2022. Photo: REUTERS/Pablo Sanhueza
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Gabriel Boric, 36, was sworn in as Chile‘s president on Friday in the most significant political shift in the Andean country since its re-democratization three decades ago after the bloody dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

At the Congress building in the port city of Valparaíso, Boric, a former protest leader and left-wing parliamentarian, received the presidential sash from billionaire Sebastián Piñera, his predecessor, and became the youngest person to hold the country’s presidency.

READ ALSO: Chilean economy grows 10.2% in 2021, says Central Bank

“Before the Chilean people, I take my oath,” said Boric, who, as a sign of new times, wore a shirt and jacket, but without a tie, something unheard of for male presidents in Chile.

“[I want you all to] Know that we will do our best to face the challenges we have as a country,” he said shortly after leaving Congress.

Boric’s rise was a sign of hope for progressists in Chile, long a conservative bastion of free markets and fiscal rigor in South America. Still, it also raised fears that decades of economic stability could be undone.

The leader of a broad leftist coalition that includes the Communist Party of Chile, Boric, has vowed to overhaul a market-driven economic model to tackle the inequality that led to violent protests in 2019, although he has tempered his rhetoric in recent months.

READ ALSO: Chile’s President Gabriel Boric designates a centrist cabinet for market relief

The copper-producing country is also rewriting the Pinochet-era Constitution, which underpinned economic growth but was blamed for fueling inequality that led to months-long violent protests in Chile in 2019.

Pinochet, whose shadow still looms over the Andean country, deposed Socialist President Salvador Allende, who committed suicide in 1973 during a military coup. Boric has often praised Allende’s legacy.

Translated by LABS

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