Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Getting more money for Transantiago

At the last minute, President Bachelet got the votes she needed for the Senate to pass the money for Transantiago. The senator (Carlos Bianchi) is independent but leans toward the right, and there is speculation about what he got out of the deal. Meanwhile, the Christian Democrats will likely make some formal criticism of their own member, Adolfo Zaldívar, for voting no after demanding the resignation of two cabinet members for a yes vote. This has all been entirely negative for the unity of the Concertación.

Drivers of two more bus companies went on strike starting today. I have yet to find a single person who speaks well of Transantiago. Today I chatted with a taxi driver, and I asked him what he thought of it. He first asked me to excuse his language, and then said it was “total shit.”

Even though blame can be placed on many different people, it is Bachelet who suffers. Not only is she associated with it, but she has had to use some of her very limited political capital to get more money into it. She can’t afford to limp along very long, because the presidential term is now four years (it had been six) and she’s been in office over a year already. She has spent nearly the entire time on the defensive. I am waiting to see some updated approval numbers, but they must be lower than ever.


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