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.
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“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.
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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