For Chile’s Left, Bachelet’s Legacy Not Enough

For Chile’s Left, Bachelet’s Legacy Not Enough

Chile's left-wing Concertación coalition might very well lose the presidency for the first time since the country's return to democracy in 1990. But don't blame outgoing President Michelle Bachelet.

With record-high approval ratings, Bachelet would be a shoe-in for a second term, if not for the constitutional prohibition on consecutive re-election. Instead, as the country's first woman president and, before that, its first woman defense minister, Bachelet will undoubtedly be remembered for breaking the gender barrier to Chile's most powerful positions. She also appointed equal numbers of men and women to her cabinet when she took office in 2005. Subsequent cabinet restructuring reduced the proportion of women slightly, but the strong presence of women in Chile's cabinet remains notable.

Bachelet also notably presided over the death of the former dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Chileans had long tabled the discussion of human rights violations and the 3,000 forced disappearances that took place under the Pinochet-led military dictatorship. But Bachelet, a former political prisoner whose father died in jail after being tortured under the military regime, openly repudiated Pinochet's legacy by refusing to grant him a state burial when he died in 2006.

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