Some Thoughts on Chilean Politics Haldeman: We came up now to a little bit more political pressure of elections, and the left wing is drumming hard to take over copper. The political situation in Chile has been and still is divided in generally three groups. One is the extreme right, one is the center, and one is the extreme left. Each of the three groups has about one-third of the votes. Swent: So two-thirds controls. Haldeman: Yes. When Alessandri was elected, he was only elected on one-third, and he had to sue for peace to get a majority to give 51 percent in the Congress for votes. And Frei was elected with plus-50 percent of the vote, but he didn't have a majority in Congress; so he also had to sue for peace to govern. Ibanez was the same way, and Gonzalez Videla was the same way. As I told you yesterday at lunch, we now have two-thirds, the left and the center, who were always fighting, both against the right third. They are now together, sharing the glory of what the military did to reestablish a free, open-market economy here. As long as they can stay together, we are not going to have a problemif they can just keep the GNP [gross national product] at 6 percent a year. A man would have to have a gun at his forehead and pull the trigger to upset the apple cart and destroy the balance of this thing. It's working. The socialists, the left wing, the center left, and the Christian Democrats realize that this market economy is the best thing to increase the standard of living for the whole country. I hope they can get another generation coming through that, who will vote that way. Then I don't care what the parties are called, they're going to be voting for a good economy, and politics secondly.
Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva
Swent: Which, as you were saying, is quite a change for Latin America.
Haldeman: Absolutely. And they're very proud of it. They don't want
anybody to come back and say, "Hey, you fell back, just like
Peru or Bolivia." No, "I want to be the leader." The national
pride here is going to keep that alive for quite awhile, I hope.
Swent: We might interject that it's hard to find a quiet place in this
city, with all the construction going.
Haldeman: It's wonderful. It's jobs.
Swent: I've never seen so much construction in my life. It's all day
and all night in every block.
Swent: Tremendous prosperity.
Haldeman: That means TV sets, a new stove for the wife, clothes for the
kids, and so on, for our workers.
Swent: The people on the street are so well dressed.
Haldeman: It's awfully hard to get a strike nowadays. People don't strike
any more; they make too much money. It's wonderful.
Index to Haldeman Interview