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  HOME | Chile

Bachelet: Inequality is Chile’s One Great Enemy
The newly inaugurated president delivered her address from a balcony at La Moneda palace accompanied by her mother, Angela Jeria. Read the Latin American Herald Tribune's full coverage here

SANTIAGO, Chile – “Chile has just one great adversary. It’s called inequality and only together can we defeat it,” Michelle Bachelet proclaimed Tuesday in her first speech as Chile’s newly inaugurated president.

Bachelet, who was the candidate of the center-left New Majority alliance, delivered her address from a balcony at La Moneda palace accompanied by her mother, Angela Jeria.

She said before the thousands of people gathered on Constitution Square below that she had returned to the presidency to implement a government program to make Chile a better country “and not just a list of indicators and statistics.”

Outgoing President Sebastian Piñera has said on numerous occasions in recent weeks that the numbers showed that he would be handing over to Bachelet, who governed from 2006-2010, a country that is better than it was when delivered to him by her four years ago.

In her first address as the newly inaugurated president, Bachelet – who was interrupted many times by enthusiastic applause – enumerated the main elements of her government’s program, including “in the first place ... fighting for a free homeland, without authoritarian enclaves, where the majority is not vetoed by a minority.”

She also said that she would move forward with the government program she promised in her campaign “within a framework of dialogue with all political and social forces,” a program that includes crafting a new constitution, dealing with the problems in the public education sector, reforming the tax code so that “those who have more pay more” and fulfilling her commitments regarding labor and the improvement of the health care system.

Bachelet on Tuesday was sworn in as Chile’s president for the second time at a ceremony held at the seat of Congress in the port city of Valparaiso before a large crowd including more than a score of heads of state and government.

The 62-year-old former physician received the presidential sash from the hands of the new Senate leader, Isabel Allende, the daughter of late President Salvador Allende.

According to tradition, Piñera, the departing head of state, placed on the presidential sash worn by Bachelet the O’Higgins badge, a five-pointed star that is a reproduction of the original, which was lost when the Chilean military attacked La Moneda palace during the Sept. 11, 1973, coup that toppled Salvador Allende’s Socialist government.

Bachelet then swore in her new Cabinet, made up of 14 men and nine women, after which she left the hall to great applause.

Among the leaders in attendance were Cristina Fernandez of Argentina; Rafael Correa of Ecuador; Horacio Cartes of Paraguay; Jose Mujica of Uruguay; Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico; Dilma Rousseff of Brazil; Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Ollanta Humala of Peru, along with Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Bachelet returned to the presidency after handily beating conservative Evelyn Matthei in a December runoff.

Besides pledging to institute free public education and higher taxes on business, she has called for a new constitution to replace the one enacted by late dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, whose secret police were responsible for the death of her father, air force Brig. Gen. Alberto Bachelet.

The Pinochet regime killed more than 3,000 people and tortured another 25,000 or so. Hundreds of thousands more went into exile, among them Michelle Bachelet and her widowed mother, though not before they, too, endured a stay in a secret police dungeon.

Read More Here --


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