The people of Chile voted for a right-wing president yesterday, for the first time since the removal of the military dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1990. Anchor Marco Werman speaks with reporter Gideon Long in Santiago about the way forward for Chile.
MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman this is The World. Chile will soon have a new President. He is billionaire Sebastian Pinera. Pinera won yesterday's election in the South American country. His victory ends two decades of rule by a center left coalition. It returns to power the political parties that supported Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship from 1973 to 1990. Reporter Gideon Long is in the Chilean capital Santiago. So this move from left to right seems like a huge shift Gideon, at least from here. Does Chile feel different today?
GIDEON LONG: Well it does feel slightly different. Certainly symbolically it is a huge shift. This is the first time that the right has been back in power since Pinochet stepped down in 1990. And more than that it's the first time that the right has won power through the ballot box since the 1950s, since 1958. So certainly symbolically it feels like a huge shift. But actually in reality it probably won't result in huge policy changes. Sebastian Pinera realizes that most Chileans don't want a radical shift to the right, so although it's symbolically important, I don't think there will be huge policy changes once Sebastian Pinera takes over power in March.
MARCO: What's going to happen about Chile's tumultuous past, especially in terms of the Pinochet years? I mean there does seem to be a political shift today toward the right but does that mean that there's any kind of revisiting of the crimes and the abuses of the Pinochet era?
GIDEON: Well I suspect that the human rights cases which have been trundling through the Chilean courts over the last few years will continue, so there will be more convictions from people who were associated with the crimes of the Pinochet years. But to be honest with you, you know it's 20 years now since Pinochet stepped down. A lot of those who were guilty of those human rights abuses have either been brought to trial or they've died. So Chile it does feel as though it's moving away from that Pinochet generation now and with each year the crimes of the past are less of an issue. People have been brought to justice, and Chileans I think are looking to the future now. They don't want to keep harking back to that dark past. And they're looking to the future. In many ways Mister Pinera represents that future.
MARCO: Gideon it's interesting that Mister Pinera is an extreme sports enthusiast and he flies his own helicopter. Does he strike any people in Chile as kind of a wealthy international playboy?
GIDEON: Well, not really. I mean he's been compared to Silvio Bernasconi in Italy. I can see where the comparison comes from because if you look at the investment portfolios of the two men, both of them own a television channel, both of them are very rich, both of them are entrepreneurs and both of them have stakes in the leading football clubs in their respective countries. But really that's where the comparison ends. In terms of their character they're very different; they're different very different characters. Mr. Pinera is a family man and he's not got Mr. Bernasconi's easy charm and easy populism. He's much more, even in public he still seems a little bit stiff, a little bit formal. So no he doesn't really have that, the jet set playboy image even though as you say he is a helicopter pilot.
MARCO: Reporter Gideon Long in Santiago, Chile. Thank you so much for your time Gideon.
GIDEON: Thank you.