Another book review

It’s been four years since publication, but this blogger’s second book, The General’s Slow Retreat: Chile after Pinochet, has gotten a rather favorable review in Cambridge University’s journal, The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Latin American History. An excerpt:

In The General’s Slow Retreat, Mary Helen Spooner reconstructs the private world of conflict, negotiation, and insecurity that marked the Chilean transition. Spooner takes her readers beyond the narratives produced for public consumption into the private meetings of military and civilian leaders, where deals were struck and positions that profoundly shaped the way forward for Chilean democracy were devised. Drawing on published interviews, news accounts, and memoirs as well as her remarkable access to dozens of key players—including presidents, senators, ministers, and military officials—Spooner has crafted a detailed and sophisticated account of Chile’s fragile transition, focusing with unfailing acuity on questions of Pinochet’s influence and the legacy of human rights abuses after the 1988 plebiscite.

The day after

Friends reunited? Michelle Bachelet is congratulated by her electoral opponent and childhood friend Evelyn Matthei on her victory in Sunday's presidential runoff vote. Reuters photo.

Friends reunited? Michelle Bachelet is congratulated by her electoral opponent and childhood friend Evelyn Matthei on her victory in Sunday’s presidential runoff vote. 

It’s a shame the Chilean runoff election happened to take place on the same day as Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Michelle Bachelet won an easy victory over Evelyn Matthei, with an estimated 62 percent of the vote, and this will mark the first time since Chile’s return to democracy that a president will serve a second term.

Matthei conceded and personally congratulated Bachelet, telling her supporters that her “deepest and honest desire is that things go well for her.”

Now comes the hard part. The BBC’s Gideon Long reports that Chile’s Central Bank is warning that growth might drop to below 4 percent next year, as copper prices extend their recent decline  Bachelet faces high expectations for education reform, but this will be costly and harder to bring off with lower export revenues.

On an entirely different subject, the Santiago Times has an interview with Chilean novelist and culture minister Roberto Ampuero, who recounts his extraordinary odyssey from young Communist Party member during the Allende years, to exile in East Germany and Cuba, to political independent and “liberal in terms of individuals, in terms of limited government, individual freedom and democracy.”



The Chilean election aftermath

The scene at a voting site in Santiago's National Stadium. Photo by Rodrigo Lopez

The scene at a voting site in Santiago’s National Stadium. Photo by Rodrigo Lopez

It ain’t over yet, despite some predictions that former president Michelle Bachelet would win a majority of votes in Sunday’s election.  The final tally gave her 46.67 percent, against Evelyn Matthei’s 25.01 percent, the rest spread among seven other candidates.

Just under 6.7 million Chileans voted, down from 6.9 million in the 2009 presidential election, and while this reflects the fact that voting is no longer obligatory the difference hardly suggests widespread voter apathy or cynicism.

So the air force generals’ daughters will face each other in a runoff election on December 15th.

Here’s a link to the BBC’s report on the vote:

The Christian Science Monitor has this piece on the issues in the election:

Al Jazeera reports on continuing economic disparities in Chile, the greatest among any country in the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):

And the Santiago Times reports on whether the Chilean Congress and Senate will go along with Bachelet’s proposals: