|Current Title||President Michelle Bachelet|
|Current Positions:||President of the Confederate States of Latin America|
|Term of Office:||1st February 2005 to present|
|Predecessor:||Gustavo Adolfo Bell Lemus|
|Birthdate:||29th September, 1951|
|Place of Birth:||Santiago, Chile, ECAL|
|Political party||Partido Republicano Constitucional|
Bachelet was born in Santiago to an Air Force General, and a housewife. She is of French, Swiss, and Greek extraction.
During her childhood, she rarely stayed in one place for more than two years due to her father's career. She has two main interests, music, and law. During her schooling, she excelled in singing, and debating. She has reportedly said that she gained more education in the debating team, than in all of her schooling.
She displayed a unique talent for languages. Both French, and Spanish were spoken in her home, and she could speak fluent English by her 15th birthday.
Bachelet's father was murdered in 1974 by the Stroessner junta.
After completing her BA at the University of Bolivia School of Law and Justice, she took her bar examination, and began practicing law in 1976 in Bogota, Colombia.
She became interested in politics during this time, and she was arrested briefly for "providing financial and actual aid to a subversive organisation".
She rose to become leader of the Democratic Alliance, a collection of social-democratic groups. This position led her to a meeting with a dissident academic, Dr. Chris Marshall. Marshall was an Australian teaching economics at the University of La Paz. Marshall was an economist of the Austrian school. Most Austrians at that time approached the left with an air of opposition, Marshall believed it necessary to win over the left by pointing out that Austrians had the same basic goals as the leftists in economic terms, betterment of the economic lot of all of the people. Marshall gave her a copy of Henry Hazlitt's book "Economics in One Lesson". Three days later, Bachelet told Marshall she had been won over, and asked him to speak to others.
Bachelet began to build a classically liberal opposition to the military rulers. This movement, called the Liberal Alliance came under immediate government surveillence. The Latin American economy was not doing well, and they offered a comprehensive alternative to the junta. The Liberal Alliance's agenda was the replacement of the junta with a democratically elected government, enacting free market policies. It was led by Carlos Menem, Bachelet served as its Director of Communications. The Liberal Alliance's illegal newspaper, ¡Libertad Ahora! (Liberty Now!) circulated widely among the workers. The Liberal Alliance also produced a more intellectually oriented illicit publication called La Perspectiva Liberal (The Liberal Perspective) which was meant to win over the intellectual classes.
Bachelet's success led to her being arrested in 1978 for circulating publications without a Post Office Permit. She was imprisoned for 6 months and tortured by the military authorities.
In 1983, a coup within the military brought down the Stroessner junta, replacing it with a more liberal junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet assured elections by 1995, but continued the repression. Some of the Liberal Alliance supported Pinochet, but Bachelet opposed him.
Four years into the Pinochet regime, popular resistance to the juntas (which by 1987 had been in power for over twenty years),and the failure of repression to contain this resistance (without extending the repression to Cuban or even Soviet levels) led the regime to move its timetable forward, and political organisations (including poliuical parties, and political media) were legalised in 1987. It is believed that opposition to the Junta from the Vatican also played a part. The Liberal Alliance moved its operations into the light. ¡Libertad Ahora! and La Perspectiva Liberal went into open circulation, and donations from Latin Americans ranging from the grassroots to business leaders enabled Bachelet to tour the country speaking to all sorts of meetings.
Bachelet stressed the importance of two things on entering government. The first was the military-civlian government relationship, which she felt had been skewed in favour of the military and she further believed that the restoration of civilian control over an apolitical armed forces was essential to liberty in Latin America. The second was economic education. The people fell easily for the distortions of leftists, and she believed that it was her job to bring them the truth about free markets, that free markets would provide the best standard of living. Her passionate rhetoric was beginnning to win over the nation.
Before the 1990 elections, the Liberal Alliance registered as a political party, the Partido Republicano Constitucional in order to stand. The leader of the Alliance, Carlos Menem, gain the party's nomination for President. Bachelet stood for election for the PRC Presidential ticket, but it was felt that she was too young at that time (she was 34 at that time).
Minister of StateEdit
Bachelet campaigned for Menem tirelessly, and the PRC won the 1990 elections. Menem appointed her Minister of State. At her first Conference of the Consejo de los Gobiernos Americanos Latinos (Council of Latin American Governments, consisting of the Federal Government, and all the State Governments) she spoke of the need for increased liberalisation in the economic field.
Governor of ChileEdit
In 1994, Bachelet resigned the post of Secretary of State in order to campaign for the Chilean elections which would be held later in that year. She ran for Governor of Chile on a free market platform, and won 56% of the vote.
While Governor of Chile, she cut taxes to the lowest in Chile's history, removed the remaining regulations on interstate trade, and substantially cut government spending. Among her more controversial decisions was the abandonment of pensions for public servants funded from the General Revenue. Public servants of all kinds had to provide for their own retirement. Bachelet justified this by saying to a meeting of the Unión de los Trabajadores del Gobierno del Estado (Union of State Government Workers)
"Working for the government does not means special privileges. All other Chileans must fund their own retirements out of soundly invested savings. To say that the Chileans funding their own retirement should be forced to fund the retirements of government workers is to say that we in government are better than the rest of the people, that we deserve more. No one in government deserves more. The State Government of Chile is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We are not above the people, we are of the people."
Governor Bachelet made only one exception, police officers wounded in the line of duty, and the families of police officers who had been killed.
Under her administration, Chile's relations with the Federal Government improved even though the President at the time (Jorge Batlle Ibáñez) was a Socialist. Most commentators put this down to the fact that she had sat on both sides of the CGAL table.
Inspite of a substantial effort by the government Unions to oust her, and the general tendency of Chileans not to reelect Governors, in 1998, Bachelet became the first Governor of Chile to be reelected.
Pundits put her victory down to large tax cuts, good economic growth, and her campaigning style. She campaigned all the time, spending much of her time meeting with, and talking to the common voters. For weeks at a time, Bachelet would go from door to door, knocking on doors, and asking to chat with the residents. She said after the campaign "I was offered so much coffee that I could hardly sleep during the campaign". Her campaigning style has been called "Coffee Campaigning" for this reason, and it served her well in the 2000 Presidential Election.
Minister of DefenceEdit
With the ending of Bachelet's second term as Governor of Chile, President Eduardo Campo asked her to serve as his Secretary of Defence in 2000, she was sworn in during 2001. Bachelet eagerly seized the challenge.
Bachelet knew the importance of the relationship between the military and civilian government. She had seen military dictatorships in Central America and was determined to eliminate any possibility. Bachelet believed that the military should be completely apolitical, carrying out the policies of the government of the day, and she believed that the way to change the military was from the bottom up. She was careful not to tred on too many toes. To change the military, she substituted her methed of campaigning to her new post. She toured military bases all over the ECAL, speaking to the troops, and young officers. She took a particular interest in the Universidad Militar Nacional, and the individual service academies, the Universidad De la Guerra Del Ejército Confederado (Army), the Academia De la Fuerza Aérea (Air Force), and the Academia Naval de los Estados Confederados (Navy), talking to Cadets, and introducing courses of military ethics, and the proper place of the military in the nation.
Bachelet also initiated modernisation programs. Reconciliation paid off for the professional (rather than political) soldiers, as they now received improved equipment.
In 2004, she resigned to campaign for the Presidency, Campo having decided not to run. As before, Bachelet used her technique of "Coffee Campaigning" to get the vote out. She campaigned on a platform of increased military strength, social liberalisation, further economic liberalisation, and tax and spending cuts.
President of the Confederate States of Latin AmericaEdit
Michelle Bachelet won the election with a vote of 59%, the highest ever received by a Presidential candidate. She was sworn in on the 1st of February, 2005.
During her first term in office, she radically continued the economic program of liberalisation started by Pinochet. Among the measures she put in place were the removal of the minimum wage.
All taxes were cut, and many abolished until 2006, when all that remained was a flat rate income tax, set at 15%. Bachelet's administration removed the last barriers to imports and exports. Now the only regulations that inhibit imports and exports are specifically related to arms, and nuclear technology. The regulations on arms do not apply to small arms.
Bachelet, in 2003, removed the gun laws which had been imposed by the military junta.
Bachelet has decided that she will stand for re-election in 2010, and she is favoured by most commentators as the front-runner.
Michelle Bachelet has made extensive progress in privatisation. Her administration has privatised FMA (while governor of Chile, she achieved the privatisaton of ENAER, which was owned by the State of Chile), and the Federal Shipyards Corporation. She has failed to privatise the State Arsenal, however Bachelet's defenders point to the constitutional requirement for the Federal Government to maintain an arsenal, and the diversification of Federal Government small arms acquisition.
President Bachelet married Emilio in 1981, and had two children with him. The oldest, Maria is 23. The second, Sofia is 19. Emilio, and President Bachelet separated in 1992. Bachelet lives with Maria in the Palacio de La Moneda. Sofia is studying Finance at the Universidad de America. She is agnostic. She is currently single, and has said that she will not marry while in office. Her oldest daughter, Maria is the First Lady of the Confederate States of Latin America. Bachelet has said she would like to find someone to spend her life with, but that while in office it is better for her to stay single. Some of her keenest supporters say "Michelle is married to the nation".
Bachelet is a minarchist. She believes in a minimal government, which provides the basic services of defence, courts, policing, infrastructure, and a minimal social safety net.
| Preceded by:|
|President of the Confederate States of Latin America|| Succeeded by:|
|General: Confederate States of Latin America, Economy of the ECAL, Justice and Law in the ECAL, President Michelle Bachelet, Presidency|
|Political: Partido Republicano Constitucional, Partido Laborista Socialista, Partido de la Democracia Cristiana|
|Military: Fuerzas Armadas, Armada, Ejercito, Fuerza Aerea, Infanteria de Marina, Guardia Nacional|
|Military Aircraft: FMA SAIAL 90, A-4AL Fightinghawk|
|Armoured Vehicles: TLAM Medium Tank, TLAP Main Battle Tank|
|Warships: Ship Profiles, Ardiente and Valeroso class destoyers|