A joyous reflection from an old friend of LAB, on the formal assumption on 11 March of the Presidency of Chile by Gabriel Boric. Boric was elected on 19 December with a convincing 55 per cent of the vote. Wearing the presidential sash, he went on to swear in the members of his new cabinet, named in January, made up of 14 women and 10 men.
Yesterday, 11 March, was a very lovely day! A real, tangible changing of the guard here, from old to young, from sad, withered, tired Piñera to our young straight-backed bearded Boric, untied, (there’s an image!), our open-neck-shirted wunderkind.
The world is his oyster, he has the complete self-confidence of youth, though he also comes with introspection and a sense of caution. He’s yang, self-contained strength – but he’s surrounded by this swirling yin, by dozens, hundreds, thousands of vital young women, tall and full of self-confidence: Irina [Karamanos] his partner, Izkia [Siches, Interior Minister], Camila [Vallejo, former student leader, now a senior cabinet minister], another dozen in the cabinet, hundreds more in the parties, thousands more on the streets. They’re looking up and ahead and around them, alert and active, the absolute opposite of the downcast eyes of the traditional wife, shuffling along behind the male.
The men in the second row
Here the men were in the second row, many older, grey-haired. It’s true, I am reporting what the tv cameras showed me, and they focused very largely on the women in the crowd outside the Moneda yesterday evening, when Boric made his first speech.
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The cameras went, of course, for the beautiful young women, but they also picked out older women, more lined and tired. There was one older woman, with a mask (everyone was masked), that had embroidered on it “ESTOY SONRIENDO” [I am smiling], and she carried a hand-made placard that said “TENGO ESPERANZA” [I have hope]. There you go.
Tenemos que ir lento porque queremos ir lejos
In his speech Boric said several times, have patience, things will be difficult, “Tenemos que ir lento porque queremos ir lejos” [We have to go slowly because we want to go far], and many of the people interviewed afterwards in the square repeated this.
Probably the images of the war in Ukraine has also brought home the dangers in the outside world very sharply at the moment. Older people remembered Allende’s inauguration, the sense of radical change, and hope. But I would imagine the protagonists then were the masses, the proletariat, and massively men. Back in the 1970s I remember once seeing a photo of women in Peru, in traditional costume, carrying a banner that said “ESTA REVOLUCIÓN ES DE MACHOS”. Well, Esta revolución es de hembras, de amazonas – y madres.
Imogen Mark was an active member of Chile Solidarity Campaign in the UK in the 1970s, editing the campaign journal Chile Fights. She has lived in Chile for more than 30 years, and worked as foreign correspondent for various UK publications.