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Assignment: Businessman Sebastián Peñera

Assignment: Businessman Sebastián Peñera

Assignment: Businessman Sebastián Peñera

NOW FOR AN ORIGINAL PAPER ASSIGNMENT:Assignment: Businessman Sebastián Peñera

Billionaire businessman Sebastián Peñera, leader of the opposition center-right Alliance Party and the man Bachelet narrowly defeated in the 2005 election, was elected president in 2009. Peñera faced his first major test as president in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake. Peñera directed the dramatic rescue of thirty-three trapped miners—a story that was closely followed by the media around the world for many months. His approval rating soared to 63% in late 2010; over the next two years it plunged to under 30%.

What happened? In 2011, a Chilean winter of discontent followed the tumultuous Arab Spring. Often the causes of social unrest are rooted in a failed or failing economy, but Chile’s economy was growing at a brisk pace. So what was the problem? In a word: fairness. In 2010, Chile joined the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an exclusive club consisting of the world’s most advanced economies. Among the OECD’s thirty-four members, Chile “boasts” the biggest gap between rich and poor. The upshot is a pervasive sense of unfairness.

Evidence of this roiling discontent was not long in coming: in national elections at the end of 2013, Michelle Bachelet, now for running president again after a four-year hiatus, won in a landslide, the biggest margin of victory since Chile’s return to democracy. Bachelet promised to tackle social and economic inequality through tax and education reforms, as well as constitutional changes.


In Brazil, the generals finally relinquished control of the government in 1985. Three years later, the country adopted a new constitution that provides for direct election of the president. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, an economist, was elected in 1995, promising to reform and restructure Brazil’s economy. Despite his best efforts, Brazil continued to be plagued by heavy external debts, chronic budget shortfalls, extensive rural poverty, and glaring inequalities when Cardoso left office in 2002.

Cardoso’s successor, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, presented a stark contrast in both political philosophy and leadership style. A charismatic union leader and reformer, the new president was affectionately known as “Lula” to millions of Brazilians. Under Lula’s direction, the state ratcheted up pensions and the minimum wage by 50%. In 2006, Brazilians rewarded Lula’s efforts by reelecting him to a second term.