Presidential Elections

What was Kast doing in the U.S.?

SANTIAGO – With the last leg of the presidential race heating up, far-right candidate José Antonio Kast headed up to the United States. The Republican Party hopeful has made the trip in a bid to shake off the “extreme candidate” image. Here is a look at what he’s trying to accomplish there.

Referred to by some as Chile’s Jair Bolsonaro, Chile’s far-right Republican candidate for president, José Antonio Kast, traveled to the United States to reposition himself as a more moderate candidate. He hopes to shed the “extreme candidate” label he feels has been generated by the media.

Kast’s trip is expected to last eight days and will include meetings with business people and financial agents as well as renewable energy and technology companies. He aims to present the economic details of his proposed government plan at the various meetings.

Speaking in front of the Washington Memorial, Kast was optimistic about the productivity of the upcoming meetings, saying that they will be “fundamental for Chile if Chile wants to grow; if we want to move forward as humbler people, we need to open up to the world which is key. We need to show the world that we are a stable country that has recovered peace.”

The pro-Pinochet candidate has already met with Senator Marco Rubio to discuss the challenges faced by Latin America. Kast also met with U.S. executives and business people with interests in Chile; they dined at a restaurant just meters away from the World Bank’s headquarters. Among the diners’ present were the vice president of UnitedHealth Group, Joel Velasco, and the marketing manager of PepsiCo, María Paulina Uribe.

UnitedHealth Group is a major player in the health insurance market. Since 2018, it has owned 96 percent of the shares of one of Chile’s private health insurance companies, Banmédica, which ensures an important presence in the private health market in Chile. Beverage company PepsiCo also has a large presence in the Chilean market.

As Kast continues his U.S. tour, it is still not known whether he will meet with Franco Parisi, the People’s Party (PDG) presidential candidate who landed a surprising third place in the first-round elections on Nov. 21. The businessman, who currently resides in the U.S. State of Alabama and conducted his entire campaign remotely, is now a potential power broker. An endorsement by him for either of the two remaining candidates, Kast and Gabriel Boric, might be a defining factor in the race to La Moneda. 

Thus far, the PDG candidate has not said who he intends to support, stating that the PDG is currently still deciding which candidate to endorse.

The race for the presidential seat is closer than ever, with the runoff election just 18 days away on Dec. 19.

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