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March 13, 2006

Viva La Presidenta: Michelle Bachelet's Chile
Posted by Johanna Mendelson Forman

For Michelle Bachelet September 11th is a day to remember.  But it is not the 9/11 of 2001, but the 9/11 of 1973, the day General Augusto Pinochet turned Chile into a dictatorship that crushed the opposition, repressed free speech and disappeared hundreds of innocent victims.  Her life since 1973 is a the history of how a young medical student, daughter of an Air Force General who was murdered by Pinochet,forced into exile, could on March 11, 2006 assume the presidency of Chile.  This personal journey is a tribute to the return of democracy, the importance of women in participating in political change, and a tribute to the personal charisma of Michelle Bachelet.

As part of the largest delegation of women organized by The White House Project, a US organization that supports the election of a women to elected office, I attended the three days of ceremonies that marked this important moment in Chile's history.  The air electric with excitement as Bachelet entered the Congressional chambers on Saturday morning to take the presidential sash from retiring president, Ricardo Lagos.  In the presence of more than 50 heads of state, she became the first woman who achieved the presidency in her own right in South America. Winning 53% of the popular vote, with men and women supporting her Concertacion coalition, she has broken new ground in country where machismo and conservative leanings have long characterized the political class.  It was a day of joy for women, for victims of the dictatorship, and it opened a new era for women as Bachelet promised and implemented a parity cabinet, with a 50/50 gender mix.

Can the election of another woman be repeated in this hemisphere? Jamaica is about to swear in a woman, and Peru's leading contender for the presidency is a woman.  These votes are less about gender and more about trust, transparency, and the ability of all these women, including Bachelet, to reach the people.  (Bachelet had been Minister of Defense and Minister of Health before she ran for office.)

As an interesting footnote,the US, represented by Secretary of State, Condeleeza Rice, particiapted in the ceremonies.  In the old Congress chamber where foreign delegations like ours watched the swearing-in, when the cameras panned the crowd in the audience, the picture of Condi evoked jeers and boos, while Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales brought about cheers. Not surprising given our recent history of ignoring Latin America! If anything comes from this visit to the Southern Cone it should be the depth of anti-Americanism that pervades even our closest ally, Chile.  With this election it is more important than ever that the US return to engagement with the elected leaders of the hemisphere.   The door is open here in Chile,and even Bolivia is reaching out, but windows of opportunity are often known to close.


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hay que estar ciego y sordomudo para no reconocer que chile le debe lo que hoy es al general pinochet. no se puede tapar el sol con un dedo, dela misma forma quiro reconoser la gran calidad y la estatura de la presidenta michel Bachelet's que al igual que lula an demostrado
que en america latina existe una izquierda de calidad motivo de orgullo y admiracion incluso para los admiradores de pinochet, y muy
lejana de los comunistas trasnochados.

Dear President,

We need to change direction on the bailout. We need a capitalistic point of view. I don’t know whether you agree or disagree with me on this point, but what is important is that we get started about solving our own problems here in the United States and making imported oil show us the way out of this terrible energy/transportation/building crisis. We need to put people to work with real jobs. This proposal contains real jobs that can last for generations to come. I hope you will look kindly on this proposal and then promote this within the sphere of your influence.


Fred A. Thomas

How To Fix The Business Of America
We Bailed Out The World After WWII It’s Time To Bail Ourselves Out! History Shows America Has Always Taken Advantage Of Industrial Revolutions. The Steam Engine In The 1800’s And The Gasoline Engine In The Early 1900’s. We Need A New Industrial Revolution And Here’s How To Go About It:

Step 1. Let Imported Oil Pay To Fix The Problem by placing a $10 per barrel surcharge on all imported oil, this will generate approximately $36 Billion the first year*. This will start the process rolling and will re-industrialize America by changing our energy supplies and pay for the following.

Step 2. Develop A Contest For A New Engine. The winner would be paid $10 billion dollars tax free, 2nd place would get $5 billion (tax free), 3rd place $3 billion (tax free). This engine would operate the same as our fossil fuel engines but no fossil fuels can be used. The power of the engine would be the same as is currently used in our small trucks and cars but again no fossil fuels can be used.

Step 3. This Engine Can Only Be Manufactured In The United States including the power train. The patent on these engines would be good for 50 years and belong to the American people.

Step 4. The United States Would Pay 50% Of The Cost To Convert All Small Trucks And Cars To Use COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS (CNG). *The private sector pays 50%.

Step 5. The United States Would Pay 50% Of The Cost To Install Mandated COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS (CNG) Dispensers In All Gas Stations. *The private sector pays 50%.

Step 6. The United States Would Pay 50% Of The Costs To Develop The Distribution Of Wind Power. This would include the cost of the windmills along with delivering the power to the areas that need it. *The private sector pays 50%.

Step 7. The United States Will Pay 50% Of The Installation Costs Of Solar Power For Residences and Small Businesses. *The private sector pays 50%.

Step 8. All Manufacturing Patents In The Future Must Be Good For 50 Years If Made In The United States. If made outside the USA, the patent is only good for 5 years.

Step 9. Initiate A Program Where The Federal Government Would Build 50 Nuclear Power Plants, all at one time, and then sell them to the power companies of the home state at cost. The Government builds and sells the plant but is able to cut through all the red-tape of government regulations.

If enacted this plan can potentially put millions back to work. Think about it for a moment; re-employing so many who have lost jobs as well as reviving manufacturing plants that have sat dormant for years. American labor would retool these plants to produce the engine or the wind turbines or the CNG dispensers outlined above. Let’s re-industrialize and return as the world leader once again. It is time to roll up our sleeves. I do not believe in Socialism and am opposed to any form of income re-distribution. Capitalism is the greatest path to prosperity for all Americans. Our country can work its way out of its problems with these principles.


Fred A. Thomas

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