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In Praise of Chile’s Presidenta Michelle Bachelet

Ernesto Londoño’s article “Chile’s Leader Is the Last Woman Standing” is a cogent and authoritative analysis of the Chilean presidency of Michelle Bachelet and female participation in Latin American politics. Nevertheless, it fails to mention a necessary and vital element of Dr. Bachelet’s early life; one which distinguishes her from other male and female Latin American Presidents– the calamitous personal/political antecedents of her governmental service. Reading this article, one might simply conclude that Michelle Bachelet began her career in politics in 2000; and that through exemplary service in various governmental cabinet posts moved up through her Socialist Party’s ranks to become its standard bearer–elected twice as Chile’s President. Nothing could be further from the political truth of Bachelet’s life. Londoño does not acknowledge that President Bachelet’s father, Air Force General Alberto Bachelet, a Minister in Salvador Allende’s government, was tortured and subsequently died of the brutality at the hands of his own military colleagues. Nor does Londoño mention that General Bachelet’s wife Angela Jeria and his 23 year old daughter Michelle were arrested, tortured for almost a month; and then sent into exile. The absence of this information diminishes the personal courage and strength of character of this woman who would be Chile’s twice elected President—an example of fortitude and perseverance for Chileans as well as for all citizens of the world.

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