Chile profile

President: Michelle Bachelet

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Michelle Bachelet became the country's first female president in 2006

Michelle Bachelet returned to the presidency in March 2014 after a four-year break, promising to tackle inequality.

"Chile has but one great enemy, and its name is inequality. And only together we'll be able to defeat it," she said at her swearing-in. "Let's start now. The time is short," she said, pledging 50 initiatives in her first 100 days back in office.

Her election victory in late 2013 followed a campaign of promises to finance education reform with higher corporate taxes, improve health care, change the dictatorship-era constitution to make Congress more representative and reduce the vast gap between the rich and poor.

During her first presidency from 2006 to 2010, Ms Bachelet won praise for shepherding Chile through the global economic crisis.

Many blame the 1973-90 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew President Salvador Allende, for concentrating wealth and power. Pinochet privatized water resources and ended agrarian reforms. He also eliminated central control and funding of public schools.

In her second stint at the helm, Ms Bachelet will have a chance to cement her legacy as a transformative leader who experienced firsthand the horrors of the Pinochet military dictatorship.

During that dark period, Ms Bachelet was tortured, fled the country, and then returned years later to work as a pediatrician, eventually entering politics.

Her father died after being tortured for remaining loyal to leftist president Allende in the 1973 coup that saw Pinochet come to power.

She returned to Chile in 2013 after three years in New York, where she headed UN Women.

In the 2013 polls she defeated conservative Evelyn Matthei with 62% of the vote.

She succeeded Sebastian Pinera, who was barred from running for a second consecutive term.

More Latin America & Caribbean stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa


  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine


  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health


  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ITChild's play

    It's never been easier for small businesses to get their message out to the world

Programmes

  • Tuna and avacadoThe Travel Show Watch

    Is Tokyo set to become the world's gourmet capital?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.