Chilean Presidential Campaign Ads

The Chilean presidential campaign is in full gear pitting the conservative Sebastián Piñera who polled 44.05 percent of the vote in the first round against Eduardo Frei, a Christian Democrat that forms part of the governing left of center La Concertación por la Democracia alliance, who polled just 29.6 percent in the first round given a split in the alliance that saw a Socialist candidate, Marco Enríquez Ominami, take 20.13 percent. Jorge Arrate, the candidate of the Chilean Communist Party (PCC), trailed with 6.21 percent.

Frei, a former President and the son of a President, now has the task re-uniting his electoral coalition that is composed of his economically left but socially conservative Christian Democratic party (DC), the Socialist party (PS), the Partido Radical Social Demócrata (PRSD) and the Partido por la Democracia (PPD). Frei is clearly trying wrap himself up as the historic heir to the center-left alliance that has governed Chile since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990.

This first ad is entitled Vamos a Vivir Mejor or "We Are Going to Live Better." In the ad, the four presidents - Patricio Aylwin (1990-1994), Eduardo Frei (1994-2000), Ricardo Lagos (2000-2005) and Michelle Bachelet (2005-2010) that have ruled Chile appear together to reinforce that message of continuity. The ad runs as "We are going to keep on growing, we are going to live better, we know that we stick together we are going to live better, today I reflect on everything that we have built as of now, it has been during these years that I learned that I could advance, and looking back we remember the path we have traveled, today I will again follow my heart."

This second ad, what spurred me to write this post, is simply remarkable. I had to do a double take and ask myself this is Chile we are talking about? Chile is a modern country and was just earlier this month invited to become the 31st member of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, a grouping of the world's most industrially advanced countries. Chile thus becomes the first member from South America and the second from Latin America (México is the other). But Chile has long been a rather socially conservative country even by South American standards. Issues like divorce (only legalized in 2004), abortion and sexual orientation have long been taboo. Santiago is a very pleasant city but a vibrant nightlife akin to other large cities in South America it does not boast. So this ad is from the Frei campaign is surprising and a measure of perhaps that change is indeed coming to once sleepy Chile. It needs no translation really.

Again the ad features the Frei campaign motto as in the above ad Vamos a vivir mejor, "we are going to live better." After the kiss by the lesbian couple, the line is simply "we all deserve the same rights."

But nothing could prepare me for this next ad, a web only spot. The ad is from the Sebastián Piñera campaign, the billionaire conservative who is making his second consecutive attempt to win the presidency and the former head of the right wing Renovación Nacional party. The spot is entitled La Voz de los sin Voz, or the "voice of the voiceless." The ad runs five minutes but at the 40 second mark Piñera who speaks in the ad is shown next to a gay couple holding hands saying "today people accepts us, now we need the country to respect us." Piñera is pledging to support civil unions for same-sex couples and to allow gay Chileans to serve in the military. But I will also note that Rolando Jiménez of the Movimiento de Liberación Homosexual (Movilh), or the Homosexual Liberation Movement, while applauding the inclusion of gay men in the Piñera campaign also found that Piñera has yet to articulate a specific plan on how he will structure gay civil unions. If you read Spanish, here is more background.

Piñera's campaign slogan is Bienvenido el cambio, or "welcome change."

Both campaigns are also making use of social media using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get their message out.

Tags: Chile, Eduardo Frei, Latin America, LBGT Issues, Sebastián Piñera (all tags)



Re: Chilean Presidential Campaign Ads

Wow, great to see, really.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-20 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Chilean Presidential Campaign Ads

Not knowing anything about Chilean politics other than General you-know-who I am curious if you can explain why the sudden interest in gay acceptance by both the right and left. I can not imagine this suddenly came out of no-where.

by timp 2009-12-20 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Chilean Presidential Campaign Ads

Latin America is full of contradictions when it comes to gay rights but events are moving quickly. Civil unions came first in Argentina in 2002 and then it just sort of spread elsewhere. It has happened quickly really in the last five years. So to a degree, you're right it has come out of nowhere. It has been like a dam bursting.

It may coincide with the move to the left that really began in 1999-2001 but that doesn't explain Colombia or Peru where gays have gained recognition almost without much than speaking up. In 2004, Colombia's Constitutional Court granted gay couples who have lived together for more than two years the same inheritance rights as married heterosexuals. In 2007, Colombia moved to allow de facto unions which extend rights to health insurance and social security benefits. And earlier this year Colombia extended even more rights via common law marriage, the ruling grants same-sex civil unions the same rights as heterosexual marriages.  

Here's another report from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, release actually just today. This paragraph from the report is the key insight:

On the political front, the LGBT community has become an important force to be reckoned with in many countries, with a high degree of organizational capacity and mobility. This high level of mobilization makes the LGBT community a powerful ally and at times a fearsome enemy because of its ability to react and quickly mobilize in front of new developments and opportunities. Given the tight knit nature of the LGBT community, it has become a small voting bloc that candidates can tap into for support on an array of issues. While these characteristics exist to a lesser extent in countries like Ecuador and Colombia, in places like Buenos Aires, the LGBT community is well-known for its active involvement in politics.

But it is still a mixed bag. Brazil remains the dangerous place for gays in the world, apart from perhaps Iraq. There was a serial killer last in a Sao Paulo suburb that was luring gay men in chat rooms to isolated locations to kill them. And Venezuela has seen 20 transexuals killed in the first half of this year. And the Catholic Church is firmly opposed.  In Chile, the bishops issued a stern rebuke to both candidates saying that there were "limits."

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 09:21PM | 0 recs


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