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Chile

Yearbook 2006

Chile. As expected, the Government Coalition's Concertación's Michelle Bachelet won the second round of the presidential election on January 15. The victory margin was even greater than the opinion polls predicted - 53.5% of the vote compared to just 46.5% for her rival Sebastián Piñera. Bachelet thus became Chile's first and Latin America's fourth democratically elected female president. She is generally considered to be more of a socialist than her representative Ricardo Lagos Escobar, but she was not expected to change the conservative economic outlook that the government coalition has had so far during its long holding of power since 1990. The coalition's legislative work is facilitated by its own majority in both chambers of Congress.

2006 Chile

According to CountryAAH, Chile's teachers carried out extensive strikes and protest actions in the second half of the year. The dissatisfaction concerned the meager budget allocations to the education system and the low teacher salaries. Several other unions announced their support for the teachers, especially as the high prices of Chile's traditional export copper were considered to give the state more budget space than usual. However, copper production did not go so well during the year due to a strike at the world's largest copper mine La Escondida and a major accident at the Chuquicamata mine. The Bachelor's first budget was otherwise characterized by investments in much-needed social projects, including education where the grant was increased by 10%.

Evo Morale's entry as Bolivia's president has raised the issue of the land exits Bolivia made to Chile after the 1879-83 nitric war and which cut the country off the Pacific coast. Morales proposed in March to reestablish diplomatic relations with Chile, which had been officially interrupted since 1978, on condition that the territorial issue was brought up for discussion, but Chile's foreign minister was at first cold-tempered. In July, however, both countries announced that the issue was on their bilateral agenda. An old Bolivian proposal to regain territory in exchange for Bolivian natural gas was rejected by Chile.

On December 10, 91-year-old former dictator Augusto Pinochet died in the suites of a heart attack. His supporters demanded a state funeral worthy of a former president, but the government refused and he was instead buried with military honors at the Santiago Military College on December 12. Despite numerous attempts at prosecution against Pinochet since he was first arrested in London in 1998 for his role in the human rights crimes during the dictatorship years 1973-90, he was never brought to trial, which also caused Chile's many torture victims and relatives to disappear, albeit for another reason.

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