Santiago, May 4 (EFE).- The president of Chile on Wednesday kicked off his first official tour to his native Magallanes region, one of his main political strongholds and where he declared that his mandate will be “difficult” after a sharp fall in the polls.
“I am very clear that our government is going to be a difficult government, that we are getting a deeply fractured society (…) and that surely that anguish is going to affect popularity at times,” Gabriel Boric said upon his arrival in Punta Arenas, the capital of Magallanes, more than 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) south of Santiago.
In recent days, Boric’s popularity has fallen below 40 percent in three different polls: Cadem (36 percent), Pulso Ciudadano (24.2 percent) and Data Influeye (32 percent).
Experts attribute the former student leader’s fall in popularity to record inflation, rising violence in the south and suburbs of Santiago, and an impatient public, eager for major changes, but also to a series of his own mistakes.
“If we are not very clear about the port to which we are going, and don’t have a very steady rudder, it is very easy for us to let ourselves be dragged by the permanent waves that can confuse us,” added the 36-year-old president, the youngest in Chile’s history.
He is also the first president not to belong to the large centrist blocs that have ruled Chile since its return to democracy in 1990.
This is Boric’s second trip to the country’s regions since taking office on Mar. 11.
For this tour, Boric chose the southern region of Magallanes, considered the Chilean gateway to Antarctica. It is not only where he was born, and where his parents currently live, but one of his main political strongholds.
Boric’s arrival in Magallanes coincided with the approval in the Chamber of Deputies of one of the government’s flagship projects: the rise in the monthly minimum wage from 350,000 pesos to 400,000 (from some $410 to $470).
This 14.3 percent increase – the highest in 25 years – would put Chile at the forefront of Latin America in terms of minimum wages, although it would still be a long way from that of the main OECD member countries.
The bill, which has yet to be approved by the Senate, is a relief for the government, whose honeymoon period has lasted less than 100 days.
“We are working at two levels: in emergencies (…) and in structural reforms,” said Boric, who is an advocate of Chile’s decentralization.
“The settling-in period is over, there are no excuses. We have to be with the people who need it and that means stepping out of the offices,” he concluded from Punta Arenas. EFE