For a year and a half now, Jaime Bellolio, former spokesperson for the second Government of Sebastián Piñera (2018-2022), has no longer been in the political trenches. As director of the Territorial Observatory of the Institute of Public Policies of the Andrés Bello University, he today analyzes with greater distance and with a longer-term view the process that Chile is going through. From this place, the former deputy of the traditional right-wing party Independent Democratic Union, UDI, delivers his vision of the direction in which politics and his sector should advance. “Being able to watch the soccer game from the stands and sometimes be invited to play for a while is not the same as being permanently on the field. But I’m not going to judge those inside. Nowadays, doing politics is very difficult,” he said in an interview with EL PAÍS held on Thursday in a cafeteria in a shopping center in the Vitacura commune, in the eastern part of Santiago.
He orders a coffee and a glass of water, which he sips during the conversation. The commercial engineer from the Catholic University chose that place so he could then leave without rushing along the highway to the Santiago airport, where he will take a plane to Buenos Aires. In the Argentine capital he will accompany former President Piñera at a meeting of former right-wing Latin American leaders – the IInd meeting of the Freedom and Democracy Group – in which Bellolio will moderate a panel.
From the Chilean right, Bellolio is perhaps the closest to the left-wing president, Gabriel Boric. He met him when he entered Congress and they maintain a relationship of friendship and trust to this day. “We constantly have conversations with the president,” Bellolio confesses, in a week where Chile Vamos, the coalition of the traditional right, has aligned itself with the extreme right of Republicans in the plenary session of the Council that is drafting a new Constitution.
Jaime Bellolio, on September 21.Cristobal Venegas (© CRISTOBAL VENEGAS)
Ask. How was Chile after the 50th anniversary of September 11?
Answer. Unfortunately, we are left with more divisions than 10 years ago. I think it is a missed opportunity where, in addition, conflicts that until now were carried out in whispers surfaced. We could have said in a transversal way that in Chile there is a deep conviction to defend and promote human rights and the value of democracy, which has to do with eliminating any vestige of justifying violence as a legitimate method in politics, along with the commitment with the Constitution and the laws. Fifty years later, the coup can no longer be justified. And that reflection, if it had been done in a more focused manner, could have been much more of a majority.
Q. Some believe that the Government has strained tempers. Do you agree?
A. The Government also missed an opportunity. It was too zigzagging in its path. It is as if the president knew that he has a duty towards the construction of a different social democracy, a Chilean-style social democracy, but he has permanent flight points towards the Communist Party. So, instead of charting a path between Democratic Socialism and the Communist Party, he lurches between the two sides. And that only increases the uncertainty, in which we are living today with the constituent process, the outbreak and others.
Q. And what happened on the right?
A. Within the right everything is more mixed. There is a difficulty in being able to generate a diagnosis and a form of common political action, which is, of course, a consequence of this previous rupture in the country. My fear is that, as politics moves further away from solving citizens’ problems, what is growing is the space for populism and demagoguery, which in Latin America tend to be authoritarian.
Q. How do you see the role that the Republican Party plays in the Constitutional Council today?
A. The Republican Party had a problem: it got too many votes, it got many more advisors than it wanted. Their original logic was more to have a group with veto power, not writing power. They wanted to make a much more testimonial question. However, they had to follow that other part and had to follow another strategy.
Q. How do you understand that today, faced with certain circumstances, they could call for a rejection vote in the December plebiscite?
A. Two things happen. First, the republican people, the most adherent, never wanted the process. And the second is an issue that is happening throughout Chile, which is that we are experiencing a very short-term policy, which became much more pronounced, as a result of the social outbreak of 2019 and the pandemic. In a study we did at the Andrés Bello University, people told us that in the face of current fragility, in the face of the perception of permanent risk, what they do is take refuge in their family, in their housing, in their home and in their traditions. . And when they project themselves into the future, they do so no more than three months. When that happens, deep down what you have is a kidnapped future, where you only have space for the everyday. And there we live today the problem of security, the problem of the economy, of work, of the cost of living.
Q. And the Republican Party, you say, is tuning in to those short-term emergencies?
R. And he has done it very well. There’s a reason his campaign for the Constitution was about security. When the Constitution, of course, has to have a chapter on security matters, but it is not going to solve the aspects of the current security of citizens. So, if there is no medium or long-term vision, the Constitution has no place, politics has no place, agreements have no place, rather confrontation has place. And there is no room then for collaboration. I believe that this is a disease that politics is experiencing and that with social networks involved it only amplifies.
Q. If the Republican Party has the ambition to be the Government, they are playing a dangerous race with that logic.
R. And that is the paradox. Although it is most likely that the next government will be from the opposition, from the right, if one really saw what the best conditions would be to be able to govern in the next period, within the first five it would probably be closing the constitutional cycle. And the pension reform, too. And, in security, advance as much as possible on the agenda. There are several aspects that would make what you want to govern more governable. However, since we are living in a short-term world, the idea of ’let me get elected first and then we will see how I govern’ wins.
Q. This week a very controversial norm was voted on: the “right of the unborn”, which in the opinion of the left would open the door to repealing abortion on three grounds. What do you think?
A. I am not an expert on this, but it seems to me that abortion on three grounds, which I voted against, is something that should not be backed down. But the mere approval that the Constitution says that the law protects the life of the unborn does not seem to me to be a way to reverse what has already been approved in Chile regarding abortion on three grounds.
Q. Is the left exaggerating?
A. No, but I think there are people on the left who are looking for excuses to see how they get out of the process. There are others who legitimately have their doubts and that is also a way of negotiating, of noticing certain problems so that the counterparty realizes the fragility of the situation. But it is absurd to think that a Constitution can be approved only with a political sector. We already saw it in the previous process. You cannot try to close the constitutional cycle without there being a majority that agrees on the rules that will govern us in the future.
Bellolio in the commune of Vitacura (Santiago).Cristobal Venegas
Q. It is criticized that Chile Vamos is blending in with the Republicans…
A. What one hopes is that the behavior of Chile Vamos is not in line with that, because you know that several of those Republican votes were opposition votes, that is, against the policy. We must approach those five million new voters who are completely disinterested and distrustful of politics. But also the times that Chile Vamos has won elections it is because it has had very clear leadership that has overcome internal differences and has also had a program based on that same leadership. Today we are not at that stage. Republicans do have it (José Antonio Kast) and in Chile Vamos it remains to be seen. But advancing the presidential race we already know is a bad idea.
Q. Aren’t everyone in Chile Vamos so convinced that Evelyn Matthei is that leadership they are looking for?
A. Without a doubt, today it is by far the one with the best options. I think she is a very good candidate. But everyone knows that this will also depend on how the outcome of the coming months is, among them, what happens in December with the plebiscite of this new Constitution.
#Jaime #Bellolio #republican #people #wanted #constitutional #process