Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Women on the rise in Chile and Liberia

All around the world...

As I mentioned just over a month ago, the Chilean presidential election went to a run-off between Michelle Bachelet, a former political prisoner under Pinochet and the candidate for the center-left Concertacion bloc, and Sebastian Pinera, a billionaire running for the center-right opposition.

In case you missed it, Bachelet won the run-off election with almost 54 percent of the vote.

The Washington Post ran a highly misleading article calling Bachelet a socialist (and indicating that the White House had called to offer its congratulations). Is she? Here's the more balanced L.A. Times again: "The election of Bachelet and the defeat of her conservative opponent is the latest in a series of votes that have shifted the region's politics. But Bachelet's coalition differs markedly from leftist administrations in the rest of South America. Chile staunchly supports market-based trade policies, and its status as a major U.S. ally is not expected to change, analysts say."

In short, Bachelet is no Morales and Chile is no Bolivia (and certainly no Chavez/Venezuela)-- see here for more on Bolivia. Indeed, what has Bachelet said so far? That, according to the BBC, she'll name a cabinet with an equal number of men and women, improve relations with Peru and Bolivia, and continue to support the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Hardly the stuff of leftist fanaticism.

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Meanwhile, in Liberia, according to CNN: "Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been sworn in as Liberia's new president, becoming Africa's first elected female head of state and vowing to lead the country away from its turbulent past."

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Progress indeed in a former Latin American dictatorship and an African country recently mired in chaos and civil war.

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