|Valdivia - Celebration of Election of Michelle Bachelet as President
Photos by Don Porter
On December 11, 2005, Chileans voted in a Presidential election. No candidate polled a majority, so a runoff election was forced, between the two front-runners: Michelle Bachelet and Sebastian Piñera. In the runoff on January 15, 2006, Bachelet won a decisive victory, 53.5% to 46.5%.
"Because I was a victim of hatred, I have dedicated my life to reverse that hatred and turn it into understanding, tolerance and - why not say it - into love," said Bachelet in her victory speech. Her father, an air force officer, died in a Pinochet prison of a heart attack after being tortured. Both Bachelet and her mother were also tortured before being exiled.
We were especially delighted with the election results. We watched the final returns coming in on the TV about 6pm Sunday (2 hours after the polls closed – Chileans really know how to run an election). When it was clear Bachelet had won, we headed downtown to see what a celebration is like here. We got to the local Bachelet headquarters just as the streets were being closed off by the police, the banners were being strung from the lightposts, and the hordes were converging. Somehow everyone had a Bachelet banner or a Chile flag. The entire town was one big parade. On the streets that weren’t closed off, people were out riding around in cars and trucks with banners flying and horns honking. The honking took the rhythm “ Da Da ---- DaDaDa” (Mi – chelle --- Ba –che- let). The police were quiet and calm and professional, and efficiently closed off streets where there were too many pedestrians to allow traffic to continue. There was no traffic at all except for the triumphant processions. Lots of kids sitting in the side windows of cars and pickups, shouting and waving banners. On the way home we passed by the Piñera headquarters ... pretty quiet. But Piñera appeared in a very gracious concession visit, wishing Bachelet success. Can you imagine ANY of this in the USA???
Not much action at the opposition headquarters.
Back to Chile 2006 album