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Ricardo Lagos: 1938—: Chilean President

Established Academic Career As Economist

Ricardo Lagos Escobar was born on March 2, 1938, to Froilán Lagos and Emma Escobar. Lagos's father, a landowner, was some thirty years older than his mother, and he died when Lagos was just eight years old. Escobar, a piano teacher, raised Lagos on her own. A precocious child, Lagos raced through his primary education and entered the University of Chile at the age of 16 where he studied law. Following his 1960 graduation he married Carmen Weber and moved to the United States where he had a scholarship to Duke University. He earned a doctorate in economics and returned to Chile where he and Weber divorced. Lagos began an academic career at the University of Chile working in the Institute of Economics. In 1967 he was named director of the School of Political Science, a post he held until 1969 when he was appointed secretary general of the university. In addition he taught economics and from 1971 to 1972 served as the director of the economics department. In 1971 he married his second wife, Luisa Duran.

At a Glance . . .

Born Ricardo Lagos Escobar on March 2, 1938; son of Emma Escobar (piano teacher) and Froilán Lagos (a landowner); married Carmen Weber, 1960s (divorced); married Luisa Duran, 1971; three children, two stepchildren. Education: University of Chile, law degree, 1960; Duke University, PhD, economics. Politics: Moderate Socialist. Religion: Agnostic.

Career: University of Chile, School of Political Science, director, 1967-69, secretary general, 1969-71, director, Economics Department, 1971-72; appointed Chilean ambassador to Moscow, 1972 (post never assumed); University of North Carolina, professor of economics, 1973-75; United Nations, economist, 1976-84; Alianza Democratica, president, 1983-84; Partidos por la Democracia, founder and president, 1987-90; Chilean government, minister of education, 1990-93, minister of public works, 1994-98; president of Chile, 2000–.

Memberships: Partidos por la Democracia. Has also belonged to other left wing political parties in Chile including: Alianza Democratica, Partido Socialista, and Partido Radical.

Addresses: Office—La Moneda, Presidential Palace, Santiago, Chile. Website—www.presidencia.cl.

As Lagos' academic career developed so did his interest in politics and by 1972 he was aligned with the Partido Socialista, the country's ruling socialist party. At the time Chile was governed by Salvador Allende, a devoted Marxist who enjoyed the support of the Partido Socialista. Allende soon tapped Lagos to serve in his government, nominating the young economist as ambassador to Moscow. However, Lagos would never make the trip abroad. On September 11, 1973, Pinochet—with heavy backing from the United States—stormed the presidential palace and ousted Allende. Pinochet dissolved Congress, suspended the constitution, and imposed censorship. He named himself president, but began ruling as a dictator with absolute power. Those who spoke out against him were tortured, executed, or simply made to disappear. It is estimated that over 3,000 people disappeared during Pinochet's reign. Lagos and other former government officials fled to the relative safety of exile. Back in the United States, Lagos became a professor of economics at the University of North Carolina. In 1976 he left that post to work as an economist for the United Nations.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: C(hristopher) J(ohn) Koch Biography - C.J. Koch comments: to Sir (Alfred Charles) Bernard Lovell (1913– ) BiographyRicardo Lagos: 1938—: Chilean President Biography - Established Academic Career As Economist, Returned To Chile To Fight For Democracy, Appointed Minister In New Democratic Government