Useful Notes / Presidents Of Chile
Chile as a free state has seen all kinds of governments, both good and bad. The president is both head of state and head of government and is generally seen as the man with most power (well, except for the Parliamentary Republic, see below... and before that, when the rich could put pressure when they considered appropriate). Here’s a list of all these people, just in case you were curious of who would want to rule a tall, thin (and yet beautiful) strait of land.
Republican Period: We finally achieved independence! Wait, you mean running a country is not that easy?
- The first period starts with the Patria Nueva
(New Fatherland), after re-obtaining the independence of the country and establishing as such, and ends in 1891. It’s marked with the continuing growing of the new country. The first two on the list are actually Supreme Directors, actually more of a dictator than a president, by the way.
- Bernardo O’Higgins (1817-1823): Even though there were other Supreme Directors before him, he is recognized as the first guy in charge of Chile as a new country, so he’s the first on the list. A Red-Headed Hero born as the Heroic Bastard of a former Chilean Governor/Viceroy of Peru, he grew into an independence fighter after quite the Break the Cutie experiences he had in both Chile and England. O'Higgins was assigned the position when San Martín instead preferred to go on a South American tour fighting for independence of more territories. He made developments in public buildings and agriculture. Fearing another invasion of Spain, he also created the Navy. However, his efforts to abolish the nobility and his clashes with the church, along with a new constitution seen with bad eyes by them alienated him from the upper class, so he was forced to resign. He left for Peru with his family (including his maternal half-sister Rosa, his son Demetrio and others) and lived the rest of his life there. Said to have had ties with Masonry and specially the very shady "Logia Lautarina" hailing from Argentina.
- Ramón Freire (1823-1826): He abolished slavery, making Chile the first country on South America to do it so and opened the country to external market. The independence of the entire territory was finally achieved in his period too (before that, the island of Chiloé remained in Spanish control). However, he found himself in a conflict with the Holy See and his management was not seen as better than O’Higgins, so he was forced to resign too (actually, he was dismissed earlier, while on a campaign, but recovered the power when he came back). As a final note, he was the one who gave the tobacco monopoly to Diego Portales Palazuelos and made him enter into politics.
- Manuel Blanco Encalada (1826): The first President of the republic was actually born on Argentina and only lasted two months. He was a Navy vice-admiral put on a temporal basis, but the Congress didn’t like him despite having been a hero of the Independence War, so they pushed him away.
- Agustín Eyzaguirre (1826-1827): He arrived to the presidency to find the country in bankruptcy and without any resources. To worsen things up, not only Portales’ company ended too in bankruptcy (with the blame landed on the government) but also the foreign debt started being collected. Parts of the army, unhappy with the situation and the fact that the government couldn’t pay them, staged a coup that was suppressed but Eyzaguirre, realizing that it sucked being the president of a country with no money, resigned.
- Ramón Freire (1827): Once again, Freire was back in power, this time as president and in an unenviable position (who would want to govern on a time like this?). Once he restored the order he tried to resign but the congress forced him to stay a while longer. Meanwhile, a movement of the congress (actually conceived long before, but only finished in 1827) to form a federal government based on the United States was implemented, before it sank ridiculously fast.
- Francisco Antonio Pinto (1827-1829): Actually, he was elected president in 1829, but had governed in Freire’s place as his vicepresident before. Soon as he started as president came a civil war that had been cooking up from way earlier, but finally was triggered by the vicepresidential election. He resigned after that.
- Francisco Ramón Vicuña (1829): The president of the Senate when the civil war broke, he ended up as president when Pinto resigned. He was imprisoned along with other members of the Senate at the end of the war, leaving the country virtually without a leader until a Government Junta could be formed. You could be excused for not even knowing he existed.
- José Tomás Ovalle (1829-1830): The leader of the Government Junta, he ruled until they chose somebody who could (and should) do the job instead of them. So yeah, that was all. His government was the first conservative presidency, trend that would continue until 1871.
- Francisco Ruiz-Tagle (1830): The fact that he removed the army elements of the losing side made the hostilies begin again. Portales, showing his Magnificent Bastard abilities, managed to made that Powers That Be removed him.
- José Tomás Ovalle (1830-1831): Being vicepresident, he went back, but has to resign soon after because of his tuberculosis. He died some days later.
- José Joaquín Prieto (1831-1841): The first president to have a ten-year period (actually five, reelected a second time, according to the new constitution) and the first president to complete his period without resigning or being removed. But he was actually little more than a puppet of Portales who was The Man Behind the Man (and painfully aware of it) and the main component of his cabinet under the fanciful title of Universal Minister. His government (actually, Portales’) returned the stability to the country and passed a new constitution. However, Portales’ ruthless and dictatorial ways alienated the army and ended up being killed by them. The War of the Confederation happened here as well. The vicepresidential seat was abolished, and considering all the problems it had given, it was probably for the best.
- Manuel Bulnes (1841-1851): The hero of the war was elected the next president. He continued the job of expanding culture and education and brought German settlers to the country. Before his period could end a failed revolution by the liberals rose.
- Manuel Montt (1851-1861): An ultra-conservative, almost emotionless Impoverished Patrician who advanced in commerce and banking, between other stuff. More German settlers arrived during his period, mainly to the south of the country. His extemely conservative stance brought him MANY enemies, not helped by how many young and cultured upper-class people supported liberal ideas in what was known as "Generation of 1848". To avoid another uprising of the liberals, after his "right hand" Antonio Varas fell out of grace, he supported the candidacy of a more moderate conservative.
- José Joaquín Pérez (1861-1871): A lot less conservative than his predecessor, his government saw the creation of the Fire Corps, The Chincha Islands War and the population of the center-south region of the country.
- Federico Errázuriz Zañartu (1871-1876): The main thing that happened here was the creation of the Foreign Office and the creation of the civil marriage and public space on cemeteries to bury non-Catholics. Being the first liberal in the post-civil war presidency (they would continue on power until 1891), he only could form a government by making his cabinet a mix of ideologies; needless to say, eventually this union was dissolved. He was the first president of the bunch to not win a reelection, mainly because he didn’t run for one.
- Aníbal Pinto (1876-1881): An economic crisis, an earthquake in Iquique and the start of the War of the Pacific; that’s all you need to know. Gave up almost all the Patagonia to Argentina to ensure their neutrality on the conflict.
- Domingo Santa María (1881-1886): The war continued and ended during his period. He made more moves to separate church and state, creating the Registro Civil de Identificación to keep tabs on Chilean population and the identities of people. Lastly, but not least, he was accused many times of fraud.
- José Manuel Balmaceda (1886-1891): The "heir" of Santa María, having been his Prime Minister. He tried to amend things with the conservatives, to no avail since he was the one who handled many of the Church/State "separation" moves, for which they would never forgive him. The Congress, with conservative majority, vetoed everything he tried to do, so he decided not to listen to them and act on his own. This led to a rebellion of the Congress and another civil war, where the navy forces, loyal to the Congress, beat the army forces, loyal to the president. When the dust was finally down, Balmaceda had taken asylum on the Argentinian embassy, eventually killing himself, and the Congress was now in power and declared the Parliamentary Era.
O’Higgins and some of the last presidents of this era are the only ones the people remember, which is not weird since most of them didn’t achieved much.
Parliamentary Period: We won’t allow you to do anything we don’t want to!
– Once the civil war ended, the Congress established a parliamentary government… except for one tiny detail: the only thing the republic had of parliamentary now was the fact that the congress was free to remove any minister whenever they wanted. This ridiculous attitude meant that, even though the president was still the man in power and the one who governed, he had to low his head to the congress on ANYTHING, while they didn’t take any responsibilities for any screw-up made by the president’s narrow capability of government. Most of the guys wore a Badass Mustache
in this era, by the way.
This form of government lasted less than forty years (and it’s more impressive the fact that the lasted that long) and it leaves us a very valuable lesson: if you’re going to change the form of government in your country, don’t do it halfway!
- Jorge Montt (1891): Nephew of the former president Montt, the commander of the rebel troops became the provisional first president of this new republic. The most important thing he did was to give control to the municipalities.
- Federico Errázuriz Echaurren (1896-1901): Liberal, son of the former president Errázuriz. He had to deal with an economic trouble and border disputes with Argentina (the fact the both countries share a long border doesn’t help with the situation). He was ill since before assuming the presidency and died while on the office.
- Germán Riesco (1901-1906): Liberal, though he was more of a conservative than his contemporaries. Because of that he ended adrift between the two main political groups. He established the actual Civil Code and a Penal Code that was changed only recently and signed the peace with Bolivia (before that they only had some sort of truce). On the bad side, he had to deal with social unrest and an earthquake on Valparaíso that practically left it in the ground.
- Pedro Montt (1906-1910): Conservative, son of the former president Manuel Montt. He allowed the pianist Claudio Arrau go to study in Europe, but aside that he did very little. Died while on office.
- Emiliano Figueroa (1910): Liberal. When both the President and the Minister of Interior died within the year, he ended taking the office. Since he only had the presidential seat until the next one could be appointed, he didn’t do anything worth mentioning.
- Ramón Barros Luco (1910-1915): Liberal. The man who had a (rather yummy) sandwich and a public hospital named after him, he was elected president mainly for being the most innocuous politician as well as very old when chosen. He had a very… lax attitude towards governing, giving rise to the meme “99% of problems solve themselves, and the remaining 1% have no solution”. He also joined the nation to the ABC Powers. When World War I broke, the country declared neutrality, something that would be beneficial in the short run, but almost catastrophic some years later.
- Juan Luis Sanfuentes (1915-1920): Liberal Democratic. He kept the neutrality during the war, despite being pressured by the German settlers and the commercial ties with England and United States. He had a minority on the Congress, which he tried to sort by dividing the opposition; it worked well until near the end, when the opposition finally got their act together and concentrated on their candidate, which would arrive to the presidency. Tried to do some work reforms.
- Arturo Alessandri Palma (1920-1925): Liberal. Half-Chilean, half-Italian, 100% Hot-Blooded. His was the first massive presidential campaign, with all the hamminess that it brought. He tried to give the presidency more power, but having the minority on the Congress made him uncapable. Part of the army, sick of the political situation, forced his way into the ministries and forced the Congress to pass some of the laws they considered fitting; one of these was the future president Carlos Ibáñez del Campo. Alessandri, realizing he was being just a puppet for them, resigned, but the Congress instead gave him a temporary leave. In his abscense, a Military Junta was formed, but it quickly devolved into internal bickering. Ibáñez and others mounted a coup and forced the Congress to write a new constitution, giving the president the power needed to govern.
This period of time was characterized by the fact that the Congress dismissed any cabinet they didn’t like, resulting in 131 ministries in just 33 years (that means 530 ministers, do the math). Obviously, this hampered any effort to realize worthwhile actions in the country.
Nowadays, the only presidents remembered are Barros Luco and Alessandri, but the first is more remembered for the sandwich and the last for his second period.
Presidency Period: Trying to fix things up amidst social clashes and economical ups-and-downs
– The aforementioned phrase resumes this period quite well. It lasted from 1925 until 1973.
- Arturo Alessandri Palma (1925): Liberal. Technically, he was the first president of the Presidential Republic, because the constitution was validated while on office, but you could not count it as well. Besides that, the only thing he did was create the Central Bank. Moving on.
- Emiliano Figueroa (1925-1927): Liberal. He was elected as a compromise between almost all the parties as a completely inoffensive guy. Pestered by the political climate and Ibáñez’s ambitions, he resigned and the general took power as Minister of Interior.
- Carlos Ibáñez del Campo (1927-1931): Won the elections by a overwhelming majority (not that difficult, considering that the parties refused to present a candidate and the only other candidate, from the Communist Party, was in jail). He proceeded to rule by decree, essentially becoming a dictator, though not a ruthless one, unified all the police forces into Carabineros de Chile, returned the province of Tacna to Peru and receiving lots of loans with which he could help grow the country. Was nicknamed "Chilean Mussolini", which he loathed. All this went to hell with the Great Depression, with Chile being the worst country affected in the world; since his enormous public spending didn’t help matters, he chose to exile himself.
- Juan Esteban Montero (1931-1932): Radical. He found himself president when the President of the Senate resigned at the next day. He gave power to his Minister of Interior to compete in the upcoming elections and won. He started an austerity program, which would continue for a couple of years, in order to isolate the country from further external shocks and tried to recover the crippling economy. The situation was so bad that he was forced to resign in a coup d’etat.
- Carlos Dávila (1932): The situation gave rise to the Socialist Republic of Chile, a comedy of errors in three acts. First, colonel Marmaduke Grove from the Air Force (who had helped Ibáñez del Campo to put pressure to end the Parliamentary Era) along with Eugenio Matte and followers of Ibáñez under the leadership of Dávila forced Montero to resign and then put the retired general Arturo Puga in charge of the new Junta, with them in important positions and declared the Socialist Republic of Chile. However, they only had the support of the socialists and employees’ associations. Also, Dávila disliked the radical actions of the Junta and a few days later (and by a few, I mean about twelve days), with support from the army, expelled everyone from the Junta and replaced with followers of his. However, a hundred days later he resigned because of lack of military and popular support. Finally, his follower, Bartolomé Blanche, resigned under threat of another military uprising and the leadership fell on the President of the Supreme Court, Abraham Oyanedel, who finally called for elections. Thus ended the brief Socialist Republic of Chile, which lasted just a little longer than three months, accomplishing absolutely nothing.
- Arturo Alessandri Palma (1932-1938): Liberal, but more conservative. Once again in power, Alessandri had to face the possible threat of another uprising instigated by Ibáñez, whom by now had become his worst enemy; to deal with this he instituted a pseudo-secret police tasked with mitigate any revolt or menace, and disbanded them when he felt there was no more risk. There were some rebellions that were ruthlessly stomped, including the Seguro Obrero massacre, where a bunch of militants of the National Socialist Movement were killed in very violent and suspicious circunstances following a botched attempt to put Ibáñez in charge; Alessandri himself kept repeating that he never ordered said massacre until the end of his life. Aside of this his government was heavy on censorship (even of political caricatures). Frequently caricaturized as someone weak and submissive in his first term and hard and repressive on his second term, true to his nickname of “the lion of Tarapacá”. His dog Ulk (a Great Dane) also reached memetic status.
- Pedro Aguirre Cerda (1938-1941): Radical. From a middle-class family, he was both a lawyer and a schoolteacher. He was the author of a Memetic Mutation, “to govern is to educate”, so he dedicated himself to improve the schools and education in general; though he also had to deal with another earthquake in 1939. (He actually managed to checkmate the right-wing via compromising one of his most ambitious projects, the CORFO, in the reconstruction of the damaged cities). He was deathly ill with tuberculosis when he took the charge, so he traveled a lot trying to extend his life a little more; the satirical papers, not knowing it, modified his meme to “to govern is to travel”. World War II arrived and he, despite the pressure from the National Socialist Party, declared the country neutral. He died before his term could end, leading to massive mourning among Chileans. He kind of looked like Cantinflas, actually, with his notorious mustache. Quite popular compared to other presidents, his Fan Nickname is "Don Tinto" (Mr. Red Wine) due to owning wine plantations.
- Jerónimo Méndez (1941): Being Minister of Interior, he took charge when Aguirre died and called for elections. Nothing more to add.
- Juan Antonio Ríos (1942-1946): Radical, lawyer. He finally broke relations with the Axis Powers because of American pressure, but his attitude to not let anyone give him orders left him gradually without a party (and gave him the Fan Nickname "Don Mandantonio"). Already ill when elected, he died before he could end his term. He looked slightly similar (very slightly) to Martin Scorsese, especially the glasses and eyebrows.
- Gabriel González Videla alias "Don Gabito" (1946-1952): Radical. He won the elections only thanks to the support of the Communist Party, but in an incredible example of a Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, he betrayed the communists and made them illegal (While it is true that the Communists were interfering with several government action, that still smacks of Disproportionate Retribution). The most important thing in his government was the advancement on women’s rights. Opinions of him were divided, his supporters saw his treason to the communists as a necessary maneuver in the complicated climate of the upcoming Cold War, while others, including poet Pablo Neruda, thought he just sold out to America. Usually caricaturized as a Man Child who did childish stuff on La Moneda (like sliding down the stairs' rail or hang from a lamp).
- Carlos Ibáñez del Campo (1952-1958): Independent. The general was back, this time elected democratically, despite all the plots from sectors of the army to do a coup and put him in charge in the years before. Besides the support of the center-right party that proclaimed him candidate, he also got the support of some leftist parties and the women, promising to “sweep” the corruption. Much more centrist by now, he made the Communist Party legal once again, but since he was old he didn’t do much, leaving most of his decisions to his cabinet. A scandal occurred near the end of his term when it was discovered that he had reunions with some people planning a self-coup.
- Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez (1958-1964): Independent. Son of the former president Arturo Alessandri, as well as his complete opposite: a pragmatic, cynical, apparently unemotional businessman and engineer. Being rather conservative, he was supported by the right wing as an alternative to Salvador Allende (who, actually, had been in the career of the seat since the election before) or another leftist candidate. Had to face in 1960 not just another earthquake, but THE earthquake and also the continuing inflation on the country. He lived alone in an apartment near to the presidential palace and every day went there by foot, often exchanging polite conversations with the bystanders. Ferociously loathed by left-wing press for being a leader within the executives of the "Papelera", the biggest paper-related business in Chile.
- Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964-1970): Christian Democrat. A Half-Chilean/half-Swiss middle-class lawyer who first was associated with conservatives, but then left and helped found the Christian Democratic Party when he and others thought they weren't doing enough for social justice. His period was characterized for a lot of reforms, especially agrarian and educational and started a program of land seizure and redistribution. Though he initially agreed with the 1973 coup, eventually he was its strongest opponent. In 1982 he died while recovering on a surgery on VERY suspicious circumstances, and his possible murder is still being investigated. In popular culture Frei is specially recalled due to his extremely unusual physical features (very tall, very lean and with a huge Gag Nose, inherited by several of his children and grandchildren), and kind of The Comically Serious.
- Salvador Allende (1970-1973): Socialist (Popular Unity), a physician and Impoverished Patrician from Valparaiso. After three failed attempts, he finally won the race for presidency. Was thought of being a Manipulative Bastard and very much a reader into people's souls. Trying to bring socialism to the country (summarized in his motto “The Chilean path to socialism”), he started to nationalize big industries and made the government took full charge of the administration of education and health; he also finished Frei's plan of land seizure. However, his horrendous economical administration, along with the usual lack of products in the markets (which was NOT helped by the intervention of right-wing groups associated with businessmen) and friendship with Fidel Castro made him extremely unpopular with the right-wing, the United States and eventually, even the more left-center ones. Fearing another Cuba, US president Richard Nixon and his associate Henry Kissinger made everything they could to make the country collapse. In 1973, Allende was deposed in a violent coup d'etat (it involved, between other things, bullet exchanges and fighters bombing La Moneda, the palace government) during which he took his own life, presumably as the last laugh to his enemies. The irony? He was toying with the idea of calling a plebiscite to decide if he would continue in the presidency. He was replaced by the infamous General Augusto Pinochet, who was reported to have been among the closest to him in the military fields. (And few months before the coup... had publically announced to the presses that the military would not intervene to take Allende out of power.) In 2008, he was elected the Greatest Chilean in history.
A sad ending for a period plagued by economical turnarounds and the climate of the Cold War
during its second half. The next period would be even more depressing, however, and with only one head of government.
Pinochet Dictatorship (1973-1990): DINA, Desaparecidos, Repression, Chicago Boys… am I forgetting something? Oh yeah, another earthquake
- Until the end of the Cold War, Augusto Pinochet
would keep control of the country through a dictatorship
. Opponents would be persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, raped, forcefully disappeared, relegated to small villages or exiled
and, thanks to the network known as Operación Cóndor (Operation Condor), they were not safe even in other countries (as people like ex-Commander-in-Chief Carlos Prats and ex-Minister Orlando Letelier sadly found out). His regime would be pretty infamous for its very
poor human rights register, which would eventually alienate even the people that supported him at the beginning - whether outside or inside the country.
In "better" news, he gathered a group of Chilean economists to analyze and propose solutions to the highly impoverished state for the country, essentially asking them "how do we enable Chileans to put food on their tables again?". The result was a series of economical reforms that brought what is commonly called The Chilean Miracle
, a bounce back to a prosperous economical state... Which came to an end in 1982
, when the Chilean economy all but collapsed, and later SEVERELY increased the gap between the rich and the poor. This group of economists are called the Chicago Boys because all of them studied economics at the Chicago University. Also, due to the strong repression on Pinochet's government, crime fell to an all-time low.
Some other stuff that happened during this period included a visit from the Pope (which is seen either as an attempt to congratulate the country with the rest of the world or The Pope
's genuine attempt to help recover democracy — and quite recalled by protests following John Paul II almost everywhere), the recovery and then collapse of the economy, the horrifying
repressions of the DINA
headed by Manuel 'Mamo' Contreras
, a new Constitution approved in a very disputed plebiscite (very similar to the Anschluss, actually), the death of former President Frei juuuuuuuust
when he had publically announced that he would withdraw his former support to Pinochet
, and yet ANOTHER
earthquake, this time on the capital itself. Finally, after both internal and external pressure elections were called in 1988 (it's said he has a Villainous Breakdown
and actually didn't want to aknowledge his loss), ending the dictatorship and starting the democracy again.
Even though the Pinochet regime is now mostly condemned, he still is a very controversial person in Chile
. A wise person should try to not bring the topic if he/she doesn’t know his/her audience. His depiction in the media is usually as a Darth Vader-like figure during his regime (the cape and glasses he usually wore certainly helped form the image) shouting things to make them clear
, and as a senile forgetful relic
in his later years. When his accounts on Riggs Bank were founded, proving false his claims that he didn’t take advantage of his ruling to make money, his portrayal was changed to a senile forgetful thief relic. After all, his nickname was Pinocho (Pinocchio)
Transition to Democracy: Now we’re on top, dammit!note
– This period is marked for the growing of the country internally and for getting a nice reputation abroad (the last period left a not-so-nice impression of the country). There are conflicts about when exactly ended the “transition to democracy”; some would say it ended after the first president, who only governed for four years, but others say it ended when Piñera took charge, ending with the Concertación governments. In order to make this as neutral as possible, all the presidents, including the current one, will be included here.
When the plebiscite to return to democracy came, all the political parties allied themselves in two factions; after the plebiscite, they renamed and adapted to the circumstances. The Concertación (Concert of Parties for Democracy) comprises the center-left parties: Christian Democrat Party (DC), Party for Democracy (PPD), Socialist Party (PS) and Social Democrat Radical Party (PRSD). The Coalición por el Cambio (Coalition for Change), on the other hand, comprises the right parties, the main ones are the National Renewal (RN) and Independent Democrat Union (UDI), and minor ones are ChileFirst (CH1) and the movements Grand North and Christian Humanism (MHC). There are also other parties, including the Communist Party (PC) and the Regionalist Party of the Independents (PRI), a party that declares itself “outside the political sprectum”. But let’s not focus on them now.
- Patricio Aylwin (1990-1994): Christian Democrat, one of the founders of the party alongsid Eduardo Frei Sr.. Usually depicted as a soft-spoken, always smily Cool Old Guy with a cheeky sense of humor acting as a seat-warmer, even though he did stuff to alleviate the inequity of the Chilean society (a problem that subsists even today) and tried to mitigate some of the power Pinochet had left to himself. There are some rumours flying around as to Magnificent Bastard abilities, particularly the way he got to run for president to begin with (repeteadly refusing to take over the candidacy until they ran out of options, then stepping up when nobody else would.)
- Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (1994-2000): Christian Democratic. The son of former president Frei who looked like basically his father but shorter and with more hair, he continued with some of Aylwin’s plans, but also had to face the Asian crisis, the detention of Pinochet in London and a period of drought (since most of Chile’s energy comes from hydroelectric power, that meant long periods of energetic rationing, which basically meant electrical blackouts at certain hours). Ran again for presidency in 2009, but was defeated by Sebastián Piñera. The media portrayal of him usually exaggerates the iconic Frei family nose and portrays him as a deadly boring man who couldn't recognize a joke even if it bites him in the ass.
- Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006): Socialist. Once the main oppositor of Pinochet’s dictatorship, he had to deal tense relations with the neighbor countries (especially Bolivia), corruption scandals and had to make a decision regarding George W. Bush’s intention of invading Iraq (for the record, he chose not to support him). Enjoyed of enormous support back during his term, but at the end was criticized for not doing enough about the inequity problem. Nowadays known as “Captain Planet” for his role as Special Envoy on Climate Change, for which he has been criticized, as his presidential actions don't show any concern for the enviroment. The media portrays him as some sort of Large Ham Memetic Badass, based mainly on the occasion when he confronted Pinochet and his desire to remain in power on television, an incident known in Chile as “the finger of Lagos” (he pointed at the camera with his index finger while he criticized Pinochet with a very menacing look).
- Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010): Socialist. The first woman to reach the presidency in Chile, she had to deal with massive high school manifestations, demanding a rise of quality levels in public education. Also, there were more scandal corruptions and the death of Pinochet, and she was erroneously blamed for the problems implementing the new transport system in the capital (this actually came from the previous government). However, barely a month before leaving the office, the country was hit by another earthquake and she and her cabinet were severely criticized for the delay of decision making. In spite of all this, she ended his period with historical approval ratings, for her self. Her party had some of the lowest approval ratings ever. She also reduced the presidential period from six to four years, to coincide with the parliamentarian elections and, at the end of her period, Chile entered the OECD. She later served as Executive Director of UN Women, until she accepted to run again for President — and ultimately won. Nicknamed "La Mami" ("Mommy") by her supporters, since she was pretty much Chile's Team Mom.
- Sebastián Piñera (2010-2014): National Renewal. After ten years of center-left governments, finally a candidate from the right came out winning; actually, he had been running for the presidency for a couple of elections before. 2010 has been a very crappy year for Chile, considering the earthquake and the mining accident and subsequent rescue; on the other hand, his popularity plummeted systematically after that, due to many social conflicts that he and his ministers were NOT able to resolve (specially in regards to education and public safety) as well as broken electionary promises. A businessman and one of the richest men in Chile, he has been criticized for not selling his actions in diverse public enterprises, triggering conflicts of interests. The satiric media portrayal of him is represented by a midget trying to appeal the masses with populist promises, his frequent malapropisms (known as the "Piñericosas aka "Piñera Stuff"), his perpetually unnerving smile, his bad luck that spreads to others, and his penchant for acting like Zelig. In his favor, economy improved at a constant, satisfying pace (though the economic inequality didnt really shrink) and a lot of money used in public infrastructure gave Chileans in various cities (specially those hit with the 2010 earthquake) a much-needed facelift and better quality of life. Also you gotta recgonize that he a damn hilarious Fountain of Memes and he had enough sense of humor to aknowledge them.
- Michelle Bachelet (2014—): Socialist. The first female president of Chile, re-elected for a second term over her fellow female politician Evelyn Matthei. We'll see how she does in her second time as the self-proclaimed Chilean Team Mom.
So there you have it, the presidents of Chile. That’s the reason why the politics in Chile are a motive of mockery.