Saturday, 20 March 2010
Michelle Bachelet's learning curve lasted at least two years, and she had extensive experience in government before becoming president. That is why it is unfair to begin dumping on the current government for what has been a pretty awful first week in office.... which is not to say that the major newspapers have not been unprofessionally fawning in their reporting.
One example is yesterday's emergency, last minute meeting between Interior Minister Hinzpeter and José Miguel Stegmeier, who had been named by this government as governor of the province of BioBio. Turns out Stegmeier had some dogdgy dealings with the unsavoury characters at Colonia Dignidad, a german colony in southern Chile which has been linked to Nazis, the military dictatorship, and child abuse. Even after decades, the entire truth on Colonia Dignidad has yet to emerge, and I suspect we have not heard the last of Stegmeier. He is, in fact, named in some ongoing lawsuits against the Colony.
The episode is an interesting case study. For one thing, the front page of this morning's Mercurio had two huge headlines on Piñera's hectic work schedule and the first aid package anounced by the government, and only a small square on the right hand column making reference to the Stegmeier affair.
Second, one has to ask what kind of vetting has gone on in government appointments. Are they really this hard up for people? Why is the right still linked to these characters?
Third, however, is that credit is due to the government, and especially the Interior Minister, for acting quickly. They did not try to justify, defend, deflect or delay. Hinzpeter called in Stegmeier on a Friday night, and fired him. It augurs well for the Hinzpeter method.