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Guest Profile

Ricardo Lagos
Former President of Chile

About this Episode

Ricardo Lagos, former President of Chile, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss Chile’s transition to democracy, his vocal stance against Augusto Pinochet, the climate crisis and the work of the Fundación Democracia y Desarrollo.

 

A warm conversation with Ricardo Lagos, a towering figure of Latin American politics who played a highly consequential role during Chile’s transition to democracy in the 1980s and later on as President of Chile in the 2000s.

 

Ricardo Lagos was President of Chile from 2000 to 2006.  He left office with a remarkably high approval rating of c. 70%.   He served for the centre-left Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia coalition, championing reforms to the healthcare system, enacting free-trade agreements whilst reducing economic inequality.

 

We hear of his — now famous — live TV interview in 1988 where he pointed an accusatory finger directly at the camera challenging General Pinochet’s attempt to extend his rule by plebiscite.  

 

This was a key moment in Chile’s transition to democracy and, at the time, led many viewers to fear Ricardo Lagos was unlikely to see another day. Interestingly, he didn’t quite realise the impact of what he said during that TV interview until afterwards when people started coming up to him to tell him just how remarkable it had been.


We also hear about Ricardo Lago’s passion for tackling the climate crisis and his time as UN Special Envoy on Climate Change between 2007 and 2010. He is candid about some of the challenging conversations he had with other leaders, such as President Lula of Brazil on the harm of deforestation in the Amazon.

 

He remarks that in the past, the key question was ‘what’s your country’s National Income?’ These days, the key question should be ‘what’s your country’s per capital carbon emissions?’ Times have changed considerably over the past decade and must continue to change as we strive for the Sustainability Agenda.

 

We also get insight into the work of the Fundación Democracia y Desarrollo, which he founded after stepping down as President of Chile, and the importance of civic engagement and the power of the digital age to foster transparency in government.

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