Monday, February 01, 2010

Piñera and the military

J.C. Arancibia brings up the interesting point that although it would seem logical that Sebastián Piñera's election in Chile would be beneficial to the military (as generally is the perception of more conservative governments) there is a tension because he wants to a) privatize part of Codelco; and b) derogate the copper law that funnels copper money to military acquisitions.  The latter reform has been attempted many times since 1990 (and Bachelet claimed it was a priority for her), but always unsuccessfully.

My impression, though, is that the military leadership has gradually come around to the idea, if only recognizing that some parts of the right are starting to accept it, which means it will happen eventually anyway.  The Concertación--especially the Socialist Party--has also done a very good of establishing trust with the military, which also helps.  As always, the devil of the reform will be in the details.

In general, it will be interesting to see what the military reaction is to a Piñera government.  The historical record is one of relative disinterest by both the left and right.  The last elected president of the right, Jorge Alessandri, certainly followed that trend.  As Fred Nunn has noted, his presidency was "noted for its hostility toward heavy military expenditures."*

* Frederick M. Nunn, The Military in Chilean History (Albuquerque: The University of New Mexico Press, 1976): 189.


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