POLITICS

Frente Amplio meets Piñera: a “disappointing” meeting

SANTIAGO – El Frente Amplio called its meeting with President Piñera “disappointing.” The meeting was one of several the president had with opposition parties in recent weeks. Although the FA and Piñera did not make any headway together, opposition parties, on their own, did: they just signed a pact to coordinate efforts to thwart the president’s agenda.

On Wednesday, Apr. 3, President Sebastián Piñera met with representatives of the opposition political coalition, El Frente Amplio (the Broad Front or FA). The meeting was part of a series of meetings he had with opposition parties in an effort to reach agreements on various matters.

Numerous people attended the president’s meeting with the FA, including leaders of various municipalities and political parties, including the Partido Ecologista Verde, Liberal, Humanista, the Movimiento Autonomista, and Revolución Democrática.

As reported by La Tercera, the representatives delivered a 9-page document to Piñera, which includes various proposals, centered on pensions, education, gender violence, international relations, and tax reform; and the meeting lasted about 100 minutes.

“Disappointing”

After the meeting, FA representatives did not mince words about the meeting. They immediately called it “disappointing.” As reported by Diario UChile, FA spokesperson Stephanie Peñaloza added that “[t]he government has no proposals” to generate a dialogue.

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An “unconcerned” president

Chile Today spoke with Tomás Hirsch, deputy of the Partido Humanista (Humanist party), a member of the FA. Although Hirsch did not participate in the meeting, he explained that the political coalition left the meeting feeling that the president was “unconcerned about the fundamental issues of the country.”

Hirsch said the president only referred to two issues, the COP 25 summit and the new anti-drug program, “elige vivir sin drogas” (choose to live without drugs), which were not among the proposals delivered by the FA.

Hirsch also said that FA had expected that the president would be willing to listen to, and discuss, the FA’s proposals, even though its political vision is very different from his. The idea, he said, was to seek “a fluid dialogue in order to find solutions that require a large part of the population.” As a result, the FA was quite “disappointed” with the president’s attitude.

Notwithstanding the FA’s negative review, according to CNN Chile, the government said that it was satisfied with the meeting and that it “valued” the FA’s availability for dialogue.

Meetings open to dialogue

After the meeting, the Minister Secretary of the Presidency, Gonzalo Blumel, explained that these meetings gave the government a chance to “verify that there are sectors that are open to dialogue” and that at the same time there are others that “are much more closed,” as detailed by La Tercera.

Piñera’s conversation with the FA was the last in the series of meetings organized by the government to try to bring the president and the opposition together.

The other meetings were attended by heads and representatives of the Partido Socialista (Socialist Party), Democracia Cristiana (Christian Democracy), Partido Por la Democracia (Party for democracy) and the Partido Radical (Radical Party).

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Without invitation

The Partido Comunista (Communist Party), although it announced that it had not been invited to meet with the president, refused to meet with him. As reported by Ahora Noticias, the president of the party, Guillermo Teillier, said that “we asked that we not be invited, because everything is on the table.”

Meanwhile, the communist deputy, Camila Vallejo, said in an interview with 24 Horas that these meetings are rather “communication pyrotechnics,” since they do not have “depth of content.” She also stressed that these government calls to dialogue with the opposition are raised at a time when the government is going through a bad period in the polls.

A united opposition

While there was no “coming together” for the FA and the Piñera administration, it appears the opposition parties themselves are coming together.

On Tuesday, Apr. 2, they announced the signing of a cross-sectional agreement to work against many of the Piñera’s administration’s policies and goals.

According to CNN Chile, the idea of the union is “to make the opposition’s task more efficient, preventing the government of Sebastián Piñera from generating setbacks in the recognition of people’s rights”; and the union announced eight commitments, ranging from unifying positions with respect to the pension reform to supporting initiatives that “look for a true decentralization.”

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