Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Which politicians do I admire? Part 1

I didn't think that I would be allowed to take my camera into the Moneda Palace, but things are more relaxed in Chile. So I didn't take any pictures, but this one is very reminiscent of President Bachelet

This was a question I was asked the other day which left me stumped. It was made clear that only contemporary politicians would qualify. To be honest, I could probably name more civil servants that I admire.

In the international class, the gold award goes to Michelle Bachelet, shortly to end her four year term as president of Chile. It's not easy to be a woman in Latin American politics, even in Chile, particularly one who, as she put it herself, manages without a man.

A doctor by training, she and her mother were tortured by the Pinochet regime. In office (it is an executive presidency) she has attempted to ameliorate some of the worst inequalities in Chile. She is a person of considerable warmth evidently held in affectionate regard by many Chileans.

I was introduced to her at a reception in Santiago in the summer. She then gave us a tour of her presidential palace, culminating in the rooms which have been restored to commemorate the overthrow of Allende. As she said, this was not done out of any sense of vengeance, but because memory was important.

Someone asked me if the Queen would offer such a tour of Buckingham Palace and the President remarked that once she left office she (not Her Majesty) could always get a job as a tour guide.

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