This blogger confesses to not paying quite enough attention to this month’s election in Chile, since Michelle Bachelet is so far ahead of other candidates in the polls. The most recent survey by the Centro de Estudios Públicos suggests that the former president may even win the first round of voting, in contrast to Chile’s previous three elections in which no candidate won a majority and a runoff vote was held. http://www.cepchile.cl/dms/lang_1/encuestasCEP.htm
The CEP poll said that 40 percent of those of those queried said they definitely plan to vote for Bachelet, while another 18 percent said they might vote for her. Not a clear majority, perhaps, but only 11 percent of respondents said they were voting for Evelyn Matthei and 12 percent said they might vote for her. There are seven other candidates running for president, but the figures for their support run in the single digits.
The only jarring note here is that increasing numbers of Chileans say they will not, or probably will not, bother to vote on November 17. The CEP poll reported that only 50 percent of respondents said they were definitely planning to vote, a three percent decline from two months ago, 23 percent said they would probably vote, 10 percent said they would probably not vote and 15 percent said they were definitely not going to vote.
Forbes has an opinion piece on the election by Axel Kaiser, director of the conservative think tank Fundación para el Progreso, who seems to want to counteract Chilean voter apathy by warning of the dire consequences in store for the country if Bachelet wins. The title asks “Is This the End of the Chilean Economic Miracle?” and notes that Bachelet’s center-left coalition, the Nueva Mayoría, now includes the Chilean Communist Party. http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/10/28/is-this-the-end-of-the-chilean-economic-miracle/
The Santiago Times has weighed in on the Forbes piece http://santiagotimes.cl/forbes-article-warns-bachelet-end-chiles-economic-miracle/, noting that a recent JP Morgan Latin America Equity Research Report had favorably reviewed Bachelet’s economic platform. The Economist reports that Bachelet is already playing down expectations of any radical changes to come, quoting her as saying that Chile has done a lot of good things and that “you can be popular without being populist.”http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21589430-more-left-wing-michelle-bachelet-set-win-tide-social-discontent-cruising-back
On another subject, here’s a link to a recent piece by the New York Times’ Frugal Traveller on the sublime charms of Chiloe island: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/30/travel/churches-and-cheap-seafood-off-the-coast-of-chile.html
The new issue of ReVista, Harvard University’s twice-yearly magazine on Latin America, is all about the region’s universities and contains an excellent piece on Chile’s student protests by Wake Forest University’s Peter Siavelis. Subtitled “The Original Sin of Educational Policy,” the article http://www.drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline/fall-2012/chiles-student-protests looks at the origins of the protests, noting they began with a nationwide movement of secondary students during the government of President Michelle Bachelet and subsided somewhat for reasons having to do “less as a result of progress on the educational front than because of the personal popularity of Michelle Bachelet and her acumen in managing an economic crisis that threw most of the rest of the world for a loop.” The election of a conservative, Sebastian Pinera, “re-opened the floodgates of protest,” he writes.
The Washington Post has a travel piece by Anja Mutic on northern Chile’s ghost towns http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/the-ghost-towns-of-northern-chile/2012/10/25/fa4adad0-16e2-11e2-a55c-39408fbe6a4b_story.html, accompanied by some stunning black and white photographs.
Forbes Magazine has an article on Refugia, a recently opened hotel on Chiloe whose architect designed the building with a nod to the island’s traditional architecture http://www.forbes.com/sites/heidimitchell/2012/10/26/travel/. The hotel sits on steel pillars, mimicking the wooden houses on stilts typical of the area, and “every piece of furniture or pillow is locally made by hand, and there are no televisions—just acres of glass overlooking the seal-grey sea and the ever-changing weather.”
If you’ve been waiting impatiently for Isabel Allende’s latest book, El Cuaderno de Maya, to come out in English, the release date is still months away. The web site of Harper Collins, Allende’s publisher, lists only an audio book version of Maya’s Notebook available in April of next year. Amazon tells readers to “sign up to be notified when this item becomes available.”
According to the Florida Sun-Sentinel Allende’s longtime translator has fallen ill and http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-02-29/entertainment/fl-ppl-isabel-allende-030112-20120229_1_isabel-allende-latin-american-novelist-fiu she had hoped the book would come out this year. “But I have no idea. It’s a very contemporary book about a 19-year old girl. By the time it comes out it will be a historical novel. Pisses me off.”
Maya, the teenager in question, finds refuge from a life of drugs and crime on the island of Chiloé in southern Chile. My friend and colleague Lezak Shallat recently visited Chiloé and offers the following glimpses of life there:
“Matias Millacura makes ravels, the three-string Chilote violin. His instruments have travelled far and wide, as attested to a photo on the wall of his house, showing Pres. Ricardo Lagos presenting one to the mayor of Paris.”
“Ana Delia Huenuman, age 91, lives on the far side of Huillinco Lake, in Cucao, on the far side of Chiloe island. She panned for gold, lived in the bush for several months after losing her house to the 1960 earthquake and has planted potatoes and tended sheep all her life. Today she sits by the warm stove in the house of her grandson Manuel and his lovely, hospitable family. My thanks to them for this new friendship.”