No, not Isabel Allende the author; she’s the niece of the fallen president, who died on the heels of a coup in 1973. This one is the other Isabel Allende, the late former president’s daughter. And here’s what she had to say upon being elected to lead her father’s old, proud party:
“It’s an immense honor to be the first woman to lead you in 82 years of [the Chilean Socialist Party’s] existence,” said Senator Isabel Allende, upon officially assuming the presidency of the party, replacing Osvaldo Andrade.
The daughter of [late former president] Salvador Allende committed to continue supporting the programs of president Michelle Bachelet, at the same time placing an accent on strengthening democracy in the midst of the crisis of credibility affecting Chilean politics.
“When politics weaken, it’s the people who suffer, because they lose they only tool for social change that they really hold in their hands. We already know what the absence of democracy is, we know what it is to suffer under a dictatorship. For that reason, we value democracy, even when it is weakened; we respect it, in the same way as we commit to respecting it,” she said.
The ongoing weakness of Chilean democracy is a problem that has afflicted the country ever since it was “restored” in 1995, with the resignation of the dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Many Chilean laws, policies and systems today are direct holdovers from the Pinochet era. And there is tremendous resistance to change on the part of Pinochet’s conservative partisan successors, who are all members of the same repugnant old oligarchy that supported the coup in the first place.
Here’s hoping that when she becomes president, Isabel Allende will restore the Chile that her father worked so hard to build. Let’s also hope that she can improve upon it with strong democracy, like what we’ve been seeing in Venezuela since Chavecito came to power. Above all, let’s hope that she does not meet the same sad, awful fate as her father did — and that if there ever is another coup, the Chilean people will take inspiration from their Venezuelan counterparts and restore their democratic leadership with courage and decision.