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Friday, March 10, 2006

¡Día Internacional de la Mujer!

Wednesday was International Women’s Day. You may or may not know that in January, Chile elected a woman president. Michelle Bachelet is a socialist, a divorced single mother (a divorce law was only passed in 2004), a pediatrician, agnostic (in a very catholic country), and her family was tortured and exiled during the Pinochet dictatorship. She is part of the socialist party which is the same party that the current president, Lagos is part of. Her politics are more or less center-left, more socially liberal and economically conservative. The truth is that her politics are not that different from the current president and so people’s opinion here is just that she is just a continuation of the previous government. Although the fact that she is a woman obviously makes a difference in both Chilean and world politics. She is the first elected female president in South America (other women have succeeded their husbands). In Chile, women won the right to vote in 1935 and were not able to vote in presidential elections until 1949. When you think about it, it is pretty impressive that only 57 years later a woman was elected president. Bachelet will appoint new people to the government positions and has committed to appointing half women and half men. So although her politics may not be any more radical or left than the previous government, I think that the fact that she is a woman will be an important factor in politics. On Saturday Bachelet will be inaugurated.

Seeing as Chile is about to inaugurate a woman president (which in Spanish you can just say Presidenta and the word says it all), there was a big International Women’s Day celebration on Wednesday. I only heard about it that morning, after I had left my house so I didn’t have my camera which I am very upset about but hopefully I can get some pictures from some of my friends. One block was blocked off with a big stage set up on the sidewalk. The backdrop of the stage was photos of important Chilean women and bluntly said, “Chile Tiene Presidenta.” Female musicians from all around Latin America performed and then, Bachelet spoke! The craziest thing was that there was so little security. There was no space between the stage and the crowd and there were maybe 2 security guards on the stage, standing off to the side, and another 4 or so next to the stage in the crowd. When I heard that she was speaking I didn’t believe it because there was so little security that I assumed it must just be a rumor. I was fairly close to the stage and so I must have been not more than 50 yards away from Bachelet. Because it was International Women’s Day, she focused on the issue of women rather than strictly politics. She spoke about the importance of women having more representation in politics, about women achieving equal rights, and honoring some of the important women in Chile’s history. It was a very exciting event and great to be there experiencing an important part of Chile’s history. Tomorrow is the inauguration and on Sunday there is some kind of event open to the public that I am going to try and go to. If I get any pictures from friends I will add them to this post but I don’t know if that will actually happen.

Some other stuff…
My mom has a Chilean friend who lives in New York who I had never met before. He is in Santiago visiting family and so I went to meet him the other day for lunch. He was meeting some of his college friends for lunch and so I ended up eating lunch with nine slightly drunk Chilean men in their late 50’s which was quite the experience but really fun.

Last week me and my friend from COPA were supposed to meet and she got lost so I went to go find her where she was. As a result of her getting lost we ran across an English bookstore which was perfect because I had been looking for something to read. It turns out that every Tuesday and Thursday night the bookstore has a Spanish-English language exchange where people come, they serve coffee and tea, and you just have informal conversations in whichever language you want to practice. So last night I went and it was really fun. I was talking with some Chileans and some Americans and so we switched between Spanish and English, or sometimes the Chileans would talk to me in English and I would respond in Spanish. So I think I would like to try going to that once a week or so, they also have an open mic on Wednesdays which might be fun to go watch too.

I have now been gone for seven weeks which is the longest period of time I have been out of the country for (previously six weeks). Classes started this past week but some of my classes have not started yet so I am waiting to put up a post about them, but the ones I have gone to seem good so far. There will be more information about my classes in a later post.


At 9:45 AM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous rob saper said...

hi sari
your trip sonds terrific
i'm very happy for you
have you had a chance to see if you can find my old friend David Yudilevich at the Univ of Santiago Medical School - he is a phd and a historian of medicince. i'd love if you could find him out for me
rob saper

At 7:03 AM, March 11, 2006, Anonymous Ruth said...

Your whole trip sounds incredibly awesome! I'm amazed at all the places you've been and the things that you are experiencing. Shoshi's been checking your blog and I'm fully anticipating her travel desires to blossom any moment. Thanks for sharing your travels. Ruth

At 2:17 PM, May 30, 2006, Anonymous Marcos Bracchitta said...

Hi Rob and Sari, youll be sad to hear that David Yudilevich unfortunately died of a heart attack last sunday in London. Iam his stepson, Marcos, he left unfinished his latest Humbolt work...you can contact me at "marcos_bracchitta@hotmail.com" best, marcos.


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