A guest list says a lot about the host, in this case the new president of Chile, Gabriel Boric. The inauguration ceremony scheduled for this Friday will feature leaders of the Latin American left, such as the Colombian pre-candidate Gustavo Petro and the Brazilian Dilma Rousseff. There will be no one, however, representing the Nicaragua of Daniel Ortega or the Venezuela of Nicolás Maduro. Boric instead invited Nicaraguan writers Sergio Ramírez and Gioconda Belli, emblems of the resistance to Ortega, but no one from the Venezuelan opposition. In the list of presidents will be those of Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. But neither the Colombian Iván Duque nor the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, will travel. The first flew to Washington to meet with Joe Biden, but before that he took note of the personal invitation that Boric sent to Petro, his main political rival. Bolsonaro was less diplomatic and said, bluntly, that he did not plan to go to the inauguration of “that Boric guy.” He sent his vice president, retired General Hamilton Mourão, in his place.
One of Boric’s first definitions in foreign policy was to stand up to the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela, even against the opinion of the Communist Party, a member of his government coalition. “In the case of Nicaragua I can’t find anything there, and in the case of Venezuela it is an experience that has rather failed,” he said in a recent interview. Nicolás Maduro returned the gesture without diplomacy and said that Boric was part of “a cowardly left in the face of imperialism.” Which left does Boric prefer? He himself answered the question: “It gives me a lot of hope and I hope to have a job side by side with Lucho [Luis]Arce in Bolivia, if Lula wins the elections in Brazil with Lula, the experience of Gustavo Petro is consolidated in Colombia. I think that a tremendously interesting axis can be put together there”.
Lula and Petro were part of the list of 26 special guests to which the president-elect is entitled. The Brazilian apologized but appreciated the gesture, as did the Nicaraguan Ramírez. “Boric has wanted to send a clear message to the dictatorship in Nicaragua, which, from the left that he represents, shows that he is not willing to tolerate any kind of tolerance with those governments that contradict democracy,” said Ramírez in declarations to the site ex ante. In Boric’s personal list there are referents of all regional progressivism. There is the president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Estela Carlotto, and the feminist Rita Segato. Also musicians who are part of his disco, like Pedro Aznar.
In a press release, the new Government explained that Boric “has wanted to invite a wide range of people committed to the democratic cause and the fight for Human Rights and the dignity of people.” For Heraldo Muñoz, chancellor of Chile during the second government of Michelle Bachelet (2014-2018), “the impression given by the guest list is that Boric’s government will be closer to the governments of Canada and New Zealand than to the socialism of the XXI century” American, represented by Venezuela. “Boric will feel closer to European social democracy, like that of Spain; those relationships will be particularly active,” he adds. Spain sent a delegation led by King Felipe VI, in addition to the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, and the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau.
Former Ambassador Reyes Matta, adviser to former President Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006), also sees a paradigm shift in Chilean foreign policy, in keeping with the new times. “They consider that the foreign economic policy must have a sustainable development, and that is what must determine if an agreement is good or bad. In this framework, the main thing will be to rebuild the South American relationship, with the search for an agenda with common minimums. We are facing an agenda linked to ecology, human rights and feminism”, he says.
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There is a special chapter for Cuba. Havana will be represented this Friday by its foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, who has already arrived in Santiago after announcing that his intention is “to promote the development of the historical ties that unite our nations.” Boric put a red line on Nicaragua and Venezuela, but saved the relationship with the island, after the cooling imposed by the outgoing government of Sebastián Piñera. Former Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz hopes for a return to the times of Michelle Bachelet, where although there were “people who felt a friendship for the solidarity of Cuba during the dictatorship, the relationship was not intense at all but rather protocol, from State to State” .
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