A Surge in Violent Crime Is Putting Chile’s Boric in the Hot Seat

A Surge in Violent Crime Is Putting Chile’s Boric in the Hot Seat
Protesters and relatives of police officers who were killed in the line of duty demonstrate in front of the La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, April 16, 2023 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

Chilean President Gabriel Boric is anxious to convince voters he is serious about combatting a surge in violent crime, but his administration is divided over how to tackle it. After three police officers were slain in a span of 23 days since mid-March, Boric is now facing a political backlash.

As one of South America’s “new Pink Tide” of leftist leaders who have risen to power in recent years, the 37-year-old Boric is admired abroad, earning a Time Magazine cover last August that underscored his popularity overseas. But more than a year into his four-year term, his sweeping social and economic reforms have mostly faltered. Two-thirds of Chileans disapprove of his presidency, and 72 percent say the copper-rich country is on the wrong track.

Coming into this year, Boric hoped to reassert his progressive credentials with high-profile commemorations of Chile’s former President Salvador Allende, the socialist icon who was overthrown in a U.S.-backed military coup 50 years ago. Instead, his domestic agenda has been sidetracked by spiraling crime. And Boric, a former student activist beholden to far-left allies in his ruling alliance, lacks the credibility to fight it.

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