Communist Karol Cariola elected president of Chile’s legislature
Former General Secretary of Chile's Young Communist League Carol Kariola's victory is a historic win for the Communist Party. | Library of the National Congress of Chile / CC

SANTIAGO, Chile—A Communist woman is now in charge of Chile’s Chamber of Deputies, much to the dismay of the country’s right wing.

Karol Cariola—37, a midwife and former president of the Federation of Students of the University of Concepción (a major industrial town and port in central Chile) and former general secretary of the Young Communist League—won Monday evening’s nail-biting vote by 76 to 75 in a historic moment for the Communist Party of Chile.

“Today, we have shown the willingness to build, despite our diversity and differences, a common position in the leadership of the Chamber of Deputies,” the jubilant Cariola said.

“I call on the opposition to collaborate for the development of the country,” Cariola emphasized, “to abandon the calls to weaken the [Boric] government, to abandon the calls to bog down the debates about public policies that Chileans urgently require.

“We will represent the diversity of this parliament, and we’ll be open to listen, dialogue, and work with all forces, and collaborate with the government of President Gabriel Boric.

“We are also willing to listen to and incorporate all ideas and proposals that contribute to the advancement of the country as a whole, the welfare of our homeland, the welfare of its people from Arica to Punta Arenas, and from the sea to the mountains.”

Cariola observed: “Chile does not stand still, and neither do we; we are moving forward, and this office will be supportive of all the advances that are so necessary at this very moment in time.”

The result was a bitter blow for the right wing and its candidate, the Christian Democrat Joanna Perez.

The negotiations on the final selection of candidates had been going on for weeks and went on through Sunday night and well into Monday. Twenty minutes before the vote, at 5 p.m., Luis Cuello, on behalf of the ruling coalition, finally confirmed that Cariola would be the coalition’s candidate to preside over the lower house, with Gaspar Rivas (People’s Party), and Eric Aedo (Christian Democracy) as first and second vice presidents.

The minister of the presidency, Alvaro Elizalde, said: “A good signal has been given to eradicate any policy of exclusion. As a government, we are going to continue working with the ruling coalition and dialogue with the opposition so that we can make progress on a legislative agenda that is important for the country.”

He added: “The government reiterates its desire for democratic dialogue with all actors in order to reach solutions that benefit the entire country, and we are certain that we will do a very good job with those elected today.”

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El Siglo
El Siglo

El Siglo (The Century) is the newspaper of the Communist Party of Chile. El Siglo es el periódico del Partido Comunista de Chile.