Gabriel Boric is from this Friday the youngest president in the history of Chile. Turning 36 in February, he narrowly reached the minimum age that his country’s Constitution requires of heads of state. But age is not the only milestone of his presidency. Boric is used to breaking the rules. The informal attire he wore when he was sworn in as a deputy in 2014 earned him the repudiation of his suit pairs. Eight years later, Boric put on a shirt and jacket, but not a tie. They are details, some small, others not so much, loaded with political symbolism. Chile will have to get used to them.
The tattoos that Boric wears are quite a novelty for a president of Chile. Boric is engraved with a tree, a lighthouse and the map of Magellan, the region in the extreme south of the country where he was born. Yumbel Góngora, a tattoo artist in Chile, said in a recent interview that she designed the map that Boric wears on his arm when he was already a deputy. “All of his tattoos revolve around his region of origin,” she said. The tattoos are consistent with the generation of the new president, as well as the use he makes of social networks. One of the stars of Boric’s digital world is Brownie, his dog, who owns her own Instagram and Twitter accounts. “I am here in front of you, in what is one of the great surprises of destiny, I, a quiltro puppy, become, by popular election, the First Dog of the Republic,” reads a message published this Friday. in the account of the presidential pet, who has more than 90,000 followers.
I am here in front of you, in what is one of the great surprises of destiny, I, a quiltro puppy, become, by popular election, the First Dog of the Republic ??. pic.twitter.com/0gcVIGRmqn
— Brownie Boric Font (@BrownieBoric) March 11, 2022
But it’s not just about tattoos, clothing and canine social networks. Since he won the second round of elections, Boric and the members of his government have added a series of milestones that already shape a new way of exercising power. The election of a Cabinet with a majority of women is the most obvious evidence. The choice of some names is not so. At the head of the Ministry of Defense, Boric appointed Maya Fernández, granddaughter of President Salvador Allende. Fernández was born in Santiago, but when Augusto Pinochet overthrew her grandfather, he had to go into exile in Cuba, where she spent her childhood and adolescence.
During the presidential investiture this Friday, new symbols were added. Izkia Siches and Camila Vallejo, two of the most powerful ministers in the Cabinet, chose purple clothing for the ceremony in Congress, the color that identifies the fight of women against gender violence. The president’s chief of protocol, Manahi Pakarati, dressed in white, but she drew attention to her traditional Rapa Nui attire, as Easter Island, where she was born, is also known. The men also had a particular detail in her clothes: a pin in the shape of a cypress that is inspired by “the Boric tree”. The cypress in question is located in Punta Arenas, Magallanes region, and became famous for the new president’s fondness for climbing on its branches. For Boric’s followers, the tree is a symbol of his meteoric political career.
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Boric broke another tradition with the election of the driver of the convertible Ford Galaxie from which the Chilean presidents greet their followers after their investiture in Congress. He put a woman behind the wheel, Petty Officer Lorena Cid, escort of the head of state since November of last year. The presidential sash that Boric wore was also the result of an innovation. If the outgoing president, Sebastián Piñera, commissioned his from a Paris tailor, his successor opted for the women of the Revolutionary Textile Union and its workshop in Santiago. Another detail: on the menu that was served to the invited presidents there was a vegan food option very much in tune with the times.
Protocol will not be Boric’s forte. After the ceremony this Friday, the custody of La Moneda will have taken note of the challenge it faces. The president made an effort to respect the forms, but he broke them when he thought it necessary. Upon leaving the Congress in Valparaíso, already invested in office, he ordered the car to stop to shake hands with the people who cheered him behind the security bars placed by the police. Later, when he crossed the Plaza de la Constitución to reach La Moneda, he left the script to get selfie with his followers.
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