By Daniela Carrasco
This Saturday, March 11, marked one year of the Boric Administration, characterized by erratic initiatives and political decisions.
In this period, the economy has suffered a slowdown that has impacted Chileans.
Likewise, public safety and the violence associated with it have been installed as one of the main concerns, given its increase and radicalization, as seen in the northern zone with the migratory crisis and the attacks in the southern macro zone.
However, the Government of Gabriel Boric has sent ambiguous signals in this matter with initiatives that do not achieve their solution while it has endorsed violence, as shown by the case of the pardons to the wrongly called “political prisoners”.
On the other hand, President Boric suffered two great defeats that left him without a government program:
- the rejection of the proposed Constitution, in which they were campaign spokespersons carrying out a worrying interventionism,
- and the rejection of the Tax Reform, which sought to finance his progressive policies.
All in all, so far, it is not possible to evaluate positively the first year of Boric’s Government, which instead of looking after the authentic common good and solving the anomie installed in the country since the revolt of 2019, only deepened antagonisms that continue with the spiral of conflict.
That is why Boric closes his first year with a 35% approval rating.
This article analyzes the main axes that have marked the first year of the ‘frenteamplismo-comunismo’ (broad front-communism) in the Executive.
During these twelve months of President Boric’s term of office, the economy has been one of the dimensions that have most concerned Chileans.
Inflation remains high due to the 10% withdrawals from the AFP pension funds in the previous administration, the subsidies granted by the pandemic, and the restrictive measures taken during this period.
Different variables can evaluate the poor economic performance in the first year of Boric’s Government.
The Monthly Index of Economic Activity (Imacec), or economic growth, registered its worst evaluation in November (-2.5%), which remained negative since September, in the context of the exit plebiscite.
Although a slight rebound was recorded in January, the country-risk level did not, as Chile went from 80.81% to 101.55% in one year (from March 2022 to March 2023).
Employment figures have also dropped drastically, as one year ago, the employment rate was 10.1%, and for the November-January moving quarter, it was 3.4%.
Similarly, the dollar price exceeded $1,000 last July, directly affecting the cost of the basic food basket.
On the other hand, initiatives such as the tax and pension reforms affected capital flight, with March 2022 being the month in which most outflows were recorded (more than US$16 billion).
Similarly, uncertainty peaked in September, coinciding with the plebiscite vote, with 220.89 points.
In sum, the economic aspect under the first twelve months of the Boric Administration has been extremely fragile, which is reflected in the Chilean Central Bank’s projections for inflation, which would be around the order of 3%, and that the Chilean peso to dollar conversion will remain above $800 (for 2019, the lowest conversion was $650 to the dollar).
MORE INSECURITY AND VIOLENCE
The migratory crisis in the north, the constant attacks in the southern macro-zone, the arrival of drug trafficking cartels, the increase in crime, and the violence associated with it, have become the primary concern of Chileans.
The World Concerns report (Ipsos, January 2023) revealed that violence is a genuine concern for 63% of those surveyed, exceeding the world average of 28 points.
For its part, Paz Ciudadana revealed that crime is indeed more violent than before.
The Government’s weak position in this matter has generated that the southern macro-zone is in a constant state of exception, while the anomie in the northern border is already a reality due to irregular immigration.
The most worrying aspect has been the Government’s ambiguous signals regarding violence, such as its statements on the forest fires that occurred in January-February in the southern part of the country, when it claimed that the fires were a consequence of “climate change” and that the rabbits spread them in the area.
All this was highly criticized, as people were found setting fires and even posters alluding to the “Mapuche cause” and guerrilla groups.
The lack of control was such that even ministers of former President Piñera offered their experience to control the forest fires.
The Government’s ambiguous definitions of violence were manifested in December, with the pardons given to the so-called “political prisoners” of the revolt.
As a result, the Government reached its worst approval ratings, with 70% disapproval and 25% approval, according to Cadem polls.
However, the close relationship between the Government and violence, particularly Gabriel Boric, should not be surprising.
In the case of the President:
- he has met with guerrilla assassins of former senator Jaime Guzmán;
- he has vindicated the “Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front” -the terrorist group of these assassins-;
- he received and smilingly celebrated a t-shirt with Jaime Guzmán’s face with a bullet impact;
- he called for civil disobedience amid the 18-O riots,
- and now, as President, he pardoned controversial guerrillas such as Jorge Mateluna -with whom he already had a previous relationship and visited him in jail when Boric was a congressman-.
Unfortunately, violence has not only affected security, but it has also captured Chilean public education.
The latest results of the Higher Education Access Test (PAES) showed that no symbolic high schools known for their academic excellence were positioned within the top 100.
Even in March, low enrollments were registered in these establishments.
This can be explained by the instrumentalization of extreme left-wing groups and collectives, which have shamelessly indoctrinated these students.
The curious thing is that the Government has failed in the area of education, a dimension that, supposedly, was its subject of expertise, since the Chilean ‘frenteamplismo-comunismo’ have raised numerous student mobilizations so far in the XXI century, asking for improvement of education by eliminating the, supposed, “neoliberal policies”.
Now that they are in Government, it can be seen that their proposals have not had any positive impact.
ERRORS IN FOREIGN POLICY
Unfortunately, Boric’s Government’s international relations with other countries have failed during this first year of administration.
Not only the scandal of the appointment of ambassadors without a diplomatic career, for which he was accused of paying political favors, but the mismanagement of the Foreign Ministry by antagonizing the ambassador of Argentina in Chile for the leak of audio denigrating his figure is also part of the erratic conduction of the Chilean foreign policy.
President Boric himself has played a controversial role in different instances of international cooperation, such as:
- in the IV Summit of the Americas held in the United States, in which the Chilean President antagonized John Kerry, the White House climate representative, by accusing the United States of being absent from the summit,
- rejecting the credentials of the Israeli ambassador in Chile last September;
- or his statements at the CELAC last January about human rights violations in Peru, making Chile and the Peruvian authorities enemies.
DEFEATS OF BORIC’S GOVERNMENT
When Boric assumed the Executive, the constituent process was underway, so he had to carry out the exit referendum.
Although the position of the government authorities on this issue was always known, unprecedentedly, they made electoral interventionism for the alternative “I approve”, which caused the Comptroller’s Office to settle in the presidential palace.
And, despite the grotesque initiatives of different government figures to persuade Chileans to approve the proposed Constitution, the citizens rejected it overwhelmingly.
This also implied a defeat for the Government since what was expressed in the text was entirely in line with the ideological proposals of Boric’s Government.
From the left, the readings of the rejection of the constitutional proposal have been short-sighted, arguing that “one cannot go faster than the people”, that there was a “terror campaign”, or that it was the product of “fake news”.
However, common sense prevailed among Chileans because they had seen how octubrism had begun to destroy Chile.
On the other hand, the rejection by the Chamber to legislate the Tax Reform on March 8, the same day that a series of measures with a feminist and gender focus were announced, which passed without any glory due to this setback suffered by the Government, was another excellent defeat for Boric, and especially for the Minister of Finance, because this project sought to finance the progressive policies that they want to install in Chile.
Although this is another good news for the country, there is a possibility that the Pension Reform, which seeks to install a pay-as-you-go system, may have the same result, being another blow for Gabriel Boric’s administration.
With all the above, it is possible to evaluate the execution of the first year of President Gabriel Boric negatively, and the Government is well aware of it.
For this reason, on the last day of his first year, he made a second cabinet change, which did not represent a change to moderation or experience, except for the Chancellery.
He did not modify the political core of his cabinet (the departure of the Minister of Education was expected), nor was the economic team.
Finally, Chile still presents significant risks under Boric’s leadership, despite the efforts to show itself to the citizens with a republican appearance, which falls every time violence takes over the situation.
Likewise, Chile is going through a new constitutional process, which does not assure that it will be free from octubrism since the constitutional counselors will be elected in May.
The committee of experts and technicians, despite their academic experience, does not predict that the discussion will not take an ideologized tone.
With information from LGI