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Boric’s eroding popularity

Even though they are problems that his predecessors left him (inflation, increasing violence and conflict in the Araucania region), they have put his government into a very sensitive and highly problematic situation that is generating a lot of tension. However, his plans to make Chile a better country are going ahead.

 

Gabriel Boric. Photo by Neuropata / Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Carmen Esquivel

 

“Here in Chile, it is usually said that governments have a honeymoon or trial period. Nevertheless, Gabriel Boric’s government has had neither of these, jumping with both feet into an intense and very dramatic agenda”, analyst and director of El Siglo newspaper, Hugo Guzman, said to Prensa Latina.

One of the main concerns for the population that Gabriel Boric is leading today, is the tension and violence in the Araucania region where the Mapuche people live. However, there are also large agroforestry businesses and private consortiums there, and it is where drug trafficking gangs operate.

Another problem that has come after many years is the increase in violence, homicides and high connotation criminal activity, like what happened during the march on 1 May, when organised crime members shot at a group of journalists and killed a reporter, something that has not happened since Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1990).

A third difficulty is that inflation reached 10.5% in April and broke the double-digit record for the first time in almost three decades.

Gabriel Boric. Photo by Mediabanco Agencia / Flickr. Creative Commons License.

This is what the analyst and director of the El Siglo newspaper, Hugo Guzman, has said, for whom “these are only three elements that have put the government into a very sensitive and very problematic situation and which are generating a lot of tension”.

Recent surveys, such as the one by the company Cadem, indicate that the president’s acceptance rate is 44%, while the disapproval rate has reached 47%.

Guzman believes that even though the majority of the surveys are usually done by private companies or those linked to journalist associations, there are other survey takers who have greater credibility.

This confirms that the approval of the government’s term is going through a difficult moment and this is to do with the three previously mentioned elements.

Despite the adverse outlook, the analyst says that during this period, important steps have been made, such as the increase in minimum salary from 425 US dollars to 485 US dollars , the biggest rise in the last 26 years, and the increase in subsidies for workers from small and medium firms (SMEs).

The country signed the Escazu agreement about defending the environment, a tax reform process is beginning that will allow more taxes to be collected from super millionaires and the pension system will be modified to raise the very low payments, he explained.

Photo: Pixabay

Another advance is the announcement of investment into infrastructure and logistics in education and a plan for the Araucania region, called Living Well, which plans to improve education, health and the return of lands to the Mapuche people.

“And I would end by saying that a human rights agenda was established, based on truth, justice and not repetition, which is very important because it has been years since there was this type of agenda here”, he explained.

In his first public account to the National Congress on 1 June, Boric announced ambitious plans, among them to present to Parliament in August a provisional reform bill, proposing that every person aged 65 or over will have the right to a basic pension of 250,000 pesos (350 US dollars), guaranteed by the State.

“We know that the time has arrived for a comprehensive reform of the health system. For this we will present a draft bill that will create a Universal Health Fund, with the goal of generating greater equity in access to services, improving service and reducing household expenses”, he said.

Regarding tax reform, he says that this “Will attack the foundations of inequality, levying high incomes and assets, mining revenue and legal loopholes to finance the fulfilment of social rights in health, pensions and care”.

Photo by Marcella Via / The Prisma

Chile is also immersed in the creation of a new constitution, with a draft of 499 articles being delivered next 4 July to the president, who will call a referendum on 4 September, when 15 million Chileans will profess their support or rejection.

TheIn his speech to the nation, Boric proposed that both options are legitimate and the Government has the responsibility of guaranteeing that the population freely shows up to the polls in an informed way.

The most recent surveys give an advantage to rejection, although when the referendum to see if the population wanted a new constitution or not was carried out, surveys indicated a technical draw and, nevertheless, 80% of the country voted in favour.

The director of the El Siglo newspaper attributes the upturn to rejection to the fact that mistakes were made and there were failures when informing citizens about the content of the text.

On the other hand, there has been a very strong and systematic campaign against the new magna carta in a country where almost 90% of the media belongs to the conservative business sector and there is a dramatic increase in fake news relating to the constitutional text.

In this scenario, progressive, democratic and left-wing sectors which agree with the transformations in Chile, started to undertake intense territorial work.

Photo by Marcella Via / The Prisma

Regarding the importance of adopting a new basic law, Guzman declared that their virtual approval would mean leaving behind the one imposed by the military dictatorship. It would provide the country with a plurinational constitution that guarantees social and democratic rights, energising the judicial system and allowing advances from a model of neoliberal development to a sovereign and sustainable one. (PL)

(Translated by Donna Davison – Email: donna_davison@hotmail.com)

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