Dec 31, 2021
In a departure from previous administrations' responses to left-wing victories in Latin America, President Joe Biden on Thursday congratulated Chilean President-elect Gabriel Boric, who beat his right-wing opponent earlier this week after running on a social-democratic platform.
Biden called the 35-year-old president-elect, who will be sworn in as the country's youngest leader in March, to say his victory has set a "powerful example to the region and the world," according to a White House statement.
The two leaders reportedly discussed the need for a "green and equitable recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic" and plans to "address the existential threat posed by climate change."
The call came as a convention is set to assemble in Chile with plans to rewrite the country's constitution with the climate crisis in mind--deciding how the nation's lithium mining industry should be regulated to protect the environment, how the government will confront the rights of nature, and other issues.
Before his decisive victory over Jose Antonio Kast--a supporter of deceased, U.S.-backed military dictator Augusto Pinochet--Boric rose to fame as a leader of a student movement demanding a nationalized higher education system.
He's promised to raise taxes on wealthy Chileans in order to strengthen the country's social programs, pledging to be a president "of all Chileans" and bring more economic equality to a country where the richest 1% of residents hold more than a quarter of all wealth.
The president-elect's plans for the country aim to strengthen Chile's highly privatized welfare state whose underdevelopment was driven by U.S.-trained "free market" economists.
Boric tweeted that he spoke with Biden about "strengthening democracy."
Biden's friendly approach to the left-wing leader comes after the president was condemned by progressives in the U.S. and abroad for inviting Juan Guaido, the leader of a failed U.S.-backed coup in Venezuela in 2019, to a so-called "Summit for Democracy" earlier this month.
But the White House this year has also acknowledged left-wing victories elsewhere in Latin America. Vice President Kamala Harris called Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro earlier this month to congratulate the democratic socialist on her victory, 12 years after the U.S. backed a coup which deposed her husband, former President Manuel Zelaya.
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