Latin American politics expert available to comment on new Chilean president

Verónica Schild

At 35 years old, leftist candidate Gabriel Boric won Chile’s presidential election to become the country’s youngest ever leader.

An expert in Latin American politics from Western University says the victory should matter to Canada as the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Board and the Canadian Pension Plan are both invested in Chile.

Verónica Schild is a political science professor emeritus, who has studied Chilean politics and state policies for 40 years. Schild is Chilean-Canadian.

“Gabriel Boric, Chile’s 35-year-old president-elect embodies, and will lead, a significant generational and cultural political change in Chile. To call Boric a ‘leftist’ and leave it at that, or a former student leader, is superficial: He has been significantly involved in national politics for the last 10 years and has been an elected member of Chile’s Chamber of Deputies since 2018, where he has proven to be an experienced negotiator in parliamentary politics.”

Boric is committed to usher in a new era in Chilean politics, and represents a renewed social democratic left, says Schild. He played a key role in negotiating the agreement that helped pave the way for the election of the Constituent Convention that is presently drafting a new constitution.

“His government is committed to an environmentally sustainable future, recognition of the legitimate demands of Indigenous peoples, and to social justice with a particular attention to the costs paid by women and Chile’s working people of a system in place guaranteed by a constitution that has enshrined for 40 years the rights of private property above all else.”

The victory of Boric should matter to Canadians, says Schild.

“Canadian investors have been key players in Chile’s radically privatized economy. The lack of interest and in-depth analysis is therefore astounding. Chile is a main destination for Canadian mining investments; however, Chilean markets for education, health, and pensions have also offered lucrative opportunities for foreign investors. For example, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Board is heavily invested in Chile’s privatized water, as is the Canadian Pension Plan.

“Chile’s new constitution will most definitely recognize access to water and other basic resources as a guaranteed human right of individuals and communities. It will also strengthen a commitment to environmental protection, and to a green economy. All these initiatives will necessarily have a direct impact on the interests of Canadian private and public investments.”

Commentary reflects the perspective and scholarly interest of Western faculty members and is not an articulation of official university policy on issues being addressed.

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