Former Chilean Prez Has Common Sense – Can We Get Some of That?

Former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos gave a speech on globalization at UT

In our era of increased globalization, "individual countries cannot take actions that weaken the multi-national organizations [like the U.N.]. That is why I said 'no' to being part of Bush's coalition of the willing."

Sound like part of a reasonably sound foreign policy? That's because those were the words of former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos during his talk at UT Thursday on the past 18 years in Chilean politics and what "the left" is doing right. Lagos served as Chilean president from 2000 to 2006.

Lagos' Socialist Party was part of a political coalition that in 1990 established a democratic government after the 16-year rule of Augusto Pinochet.

His best definition of "the left" came from an anecdote from his early years in politics. "And the chair of the assembly said, 'Whoever thinks the assembly is autonomous from the king, stand over here to my left.'"

Lagos differentiated between the ideals of the Chilean coalition democracy and what we have in the U.S. by saying "The left considers the market good, but the market can't make the decision of how to shape the entire society. Consumers drive that society. Consumers are different than citizens because citizens are all equal. Consumers are unequal in the size of their pockets."

He continued by claiming that the per capita income growth during the last 18 years in Chile has averaged four percent per year, while in the rest of South America the same growth averages to one percent per year. To make sure that growth was spread across the board – not just to some segments of society – Lagos said that more resources and subsidies were put into schools in the poorer areas of the country.

Geez, do you think he knew how many Children he was Leaving Behind with that sort of policy?

Lagos ended by echoing Nelson Mandela's sentiment that "globalization is like winter. In the summer, you know it's coming, so you have to prepare." How?

"World powers need to look at world history and ask themselves, 'what type of world do I want to live in when I am no longer number 1, 2 or 3,'" Lagos said.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

University of Texas, History, Politics, Chile, democracy, globalization

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