SANTIAGO – The leader of Chile’s Progressive Party, Marco Enriquez-Ominami, who next Sunday will make his third run for the presidency, is convinced that he has never been closer to winning than he is now.
“I’m hungry to be president and I’m going to win... I’m by far the leader best qualified to tackle a right wing that is on the rise not only in Chile but also in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Mexico and Spain,” said the son of the founder of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left, Miguel Enriquez, killed in a 1974 clash with agents of the military dictatorship.
“Yes, we progressives are being defied, but we’re also capable of winning if we shun the agenda the right is imposing on us: crime, drug trafficking and their version of the economy,” the Progressive Party candidate said, adding his conviction that “immigration, if well planned, can prove an enormous opportunity.”
Enriquez-Ominami, 44, is the youngest of eight candidates for the La Moneda presidential palace, and as he said in an interview with EFE, he’s the one with the most electoral experience.
The first time he ran for president, ME-O shattered the two-party system imposed by the two big coalitions and obtained 20 percent of the vote, which in practice signified the defeat of the center-left Concertacion coalition and paved the way to La Moneda for rightist candidate Sebastian Piñera.
In 2013, his electoral backing dropped to 10 percent. But now he feels sure of “capturing the hearts of Chileans for a progressive president.”
“I have no doubt that of my three elections, this is the only one we’ve had a chance of winning,” said the Progressive Party leader, who claims to be ahead of the leftist Broad Front hopeful, Beatriz Sanchez, and the ruling party candidate, Sen. Alejandro Guillier.
But his call to other leftist sectors to form a united front against the candidacy of Sebastian Piñera, leading in voter preference surveys, have not had the desired response.
“It’s been hard for the old leaders to understand that unity is not a matter of symbols but of deeds,” he said.
Previously considered a newcomer who broke with the political establishment, “today I am a force for resistance... who defies a right on the rise,” ME-O said.
“Chile is the North Korea of capitalism. Chile is not a participative democracy, but rather a trustee government. We’re in an unprecedented situation for Chilean democracy,” he said.
“We’ve been taken over by the banks,” said Enriquez-Ominami, who in economic matters plans to increase the minimum salary to 300,000 pesos (some $480), eliminate the tax on small and medium-sized companies that reinvest their profits, and collect a 40 percent estate tax on the super rich and 35 percent from large corporations.
Enriquez-Ominami admitted that “if not many people vote, Piñera could win on the first round,” and calls on “the poor, those discriminated against and the middle class to stand up” and spring what he called “the Chilean surprise.”