Saturday (June 13th): New Chilean Military Target

Sebastian Pinera

Name? Sebastian Pinera

Westphalian identity? Chilean

Age? 70

Why is he in the news? Sebastian Pinera, Chile’s first right-wing President since Pinochet, has enlisted the military this week ‘to help fight COVID-19.’ As many countries in Europe and East Asia see their first wave in the rear view mirror, Chile is just starting to deal with the pandemic. And after President Pinera used the military to quell social unrest only a few months ago, people are not exactly eager to see the military in the streets. 

Why do we care? Again, Pinera is the first democratically elected, right-wing politician since Chilean democratization in the 1980s. Using the military to enforce lockdown measures is causing major PTSD for Chileans of all ages. Pinera’s decision could either further sour Chile’s relationship with right-wing politicians; securing a more left government in the future, or Pinera could find himself in the footsteps of Bukele, Bolsonaro, or Orban; using the pandemic to justify assuming more power.    

Why should you care? Chile, a nation that has witnessed large economic growth in recent years, faces the possibility of enormous collapse; following in the path of Argentina. This economic collapse would add another ripple to the global economic crisis that COVID is beginning to inflict. 

Who else cares? South Korea and China have become massive investors and trading partners for Chile. Economic downturn and the threat of civil unrest would hurt foreign investors already present in Chile as well as deter future FDI. 

Any further comments? Chile and other countries (e.g. Brazil, El Salvador, Hungary) who have witnessed a wave of right-wing populism in recent months have an increased likelihood of shifting further left. This is in large part due to their right-wing governments that got hit hard by the pandemic and will take the fall for not doing enough to prevent widespread infection (aside from using military force of course). Latin America; a region scarred by fascist military regimes, could be especially reminded of their rather recent right-wing authoritarian past and look to leftist governments for comfort in upcoming elections.