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Ricardo Lagos: 1938—: Chilean President Biography

Established Academic Career As Economist, Returned To Chile To Fight For Democracy, Appointed Minister In New Democratic Government

Ricardo Lagos: 1938—: Chilean president.

The political history of Chilean President Ricardo Lagos will always be defined in relation to former dictator General Augusto Pinochet. In 1973 when Pinochet seized control of the country and installed a right-wing dictatorship, Lagos was forced to flee into exile. When Lagos returned he rose to prominence as an outspoken critic of Pinochet. In 2000, when Lagos was elected to the presidency, his inauguration shared top billing with Pinochet's return to Chile after being detained in London for human rights violations. Lagos inherited a country obsessed with the former dictator. Half the country called for Pinochet to be tried while the other half wanted to let the matter rest. Meanwhile, Lagos faced pressing domestic problems: an economic recession, an antiquated constitution, and an unequal distribution of wealth that left nearly a quarter of Chileans in dire poverty. Lagos knew to move forward he had to escape Pinochet. His mantra as quoted by Institutional Investor became, "I was elected not to administer what happened in the past, but to write the new lines of the future." In a country whose history, economy, and government is also deeply defined by Pinochet, this would not prove to be easy.

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