Ricardo Lagos

Ricardo Lagos

Infobox_President | name=Ricardo Lagos

order=33rd President of Chile
term_start=March 11, 2000
term_end=March 11, 2006
predecessor=Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle
successor=Michelle Bachelet
birth_date=Birth date and age|1938|3|2|mf=y
birth_place=Santiago, Chile
order2=Minister of Public Works
term_start2=March 11, 1994
order3=Minister of Education
term_start3=March 11, 1990
spouse=Luisa Durán de la Fuente
party=Socialist and Party for Democracy

Ricardo Froilán Lagos Escobar (born March 2, 1938) is a lawyer, economist and social democrat politician, who served as president of Chile from 2000 to 2006. He won the 1999-2000 presidential election by a narrow margin in a runoff over Independent Democrat Union (UDI) candidate Joaquín Lavín. He was Chile's first agnostic president. Lagos was also the third president from the center-left Coalition of Parties for Democracy to have ruled Chile since 1990. He was succeeded on March 11 2006 by Socialist Michelle Bachelet, from the same coalition. Since May 2007 he has served as a Special Envoy on Climate Change for the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.cite web
title=UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Appoints Special Envoys on Climate Change
publisher=United Nations

Early years

Lagos was born in Santiago, Chile. He was the only child of Froilán Lagos Sepúlveda (a farmer who died when his son was eight years old) and Emma Escobar Morales (who died in April 2005 at age 108). He attended primary school at Liceo Manuel de Salas and high school at the prestigious Instituto Nacional.

Lagos became a lawyer and married Carmen Weber, with whom he had two children, Ricardo and Ximena. After obtaining his Ph.D. in the U.S., he annulled this marriage. (Divorce was not legal in Chile until 2004.)

In 1969, he met Luisa Durán de La Fuente, and they married in 1971. The couple shared the parenting of the children of Lagos' first marriage, the children of Durán's first marriage, Hernán and Alejandro, and their only child together, Francisca.

Academic and diplomatic career

Lagos earned a Ph.D. from Duke University, where he studied from 1960 to 1962. He then became a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the political sciences department until 1965. After his time in North Carolina, he kept ties with both universities. On his return to Chile, he was employed at the Institute of Economy of the University of Chile, directed by Carlos Massad. In 1967, he was named Director of the School of Political and Administrative Sciences, a position he held until 1969, when he became Secretary General of the University of Chile. Lagos subsequently began work as a professor of economics in the School of Law of the University, and between 1971 and 1972 he was Director of the Institute of Economy. He was later named Director of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences.

During the 1970s, Lagos declared himself an "independent of the left" and abandoned the Radical Party of Chile, which he had joined in 1961, when this party supported Jorge Alessandri's government. Although he did not possess great diplomatic experience, he worked with Hernán Santa Cruz as an ambassador to the United Nations, where he presented an outstanding speech on the international financial crisis. During the speech, he strongly criticized the decision of U.S. President Richard Nixon on the nonconvertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold, a measurement that would end in the rounding up the Asian crisis. In 1972, President Salvador Allende appointed Lagos as the Chilean Ambassador to the Soviet Union in Moscow, but the appointment was never ratified by Congress. As a Regional Director of the training program of post graduate studies in social sciences, he was later put in charge of Project UNESCO, of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Buenos Aires. As a public servant he also served Chile as a United Nations delegate with rank of ambassador at the 26th United Nations General Assembly. In addition, he was a delegate to the UN's 3rd Conference of Commerce and Development (UNCTAD).

Soon after the 1973 coup d'état, he and his family were sent into exile in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he took the position of Secretary General of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO). He moved for a year to the United States, where he became visiting professor of the William R. Kenan chair for Latin American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1975, he worked as a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme.

Lagos returned to Chile in 1978, and worked for the Regional Program of Employment of the United Nations, PREALC. During the implementation of policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund his mission was to advise all the governments in the South American continent on the matter of employment.

Political career

During the 1980s, Lagos assumed a fundamental role in the fight for the recovery of democracy. In addition to being one of the leaders of the Socialist Party of Chile, he became President of the Democratic Alliance, a force that grouped the majority of the democratic parties opposing the regime of General Augusto Pinochet. In 1983, he decided to leave his position as international civil employee in the United Nations. In December of that year, he became president of the Democratic Alliance. In 1987, as the president of the Committee of the Left for Free Elections, he called on all citizens and parties to enroll in the electoral registries to vote "no" in a 1988 national plebiscite on whether Pinochet should be allowed to remain president of Chile.

Lagos became the undisputed leader of Pinochet's opponents after appearing in the political television show "De Cara al País" where he indicated that "with the triumph of "No", the country will prevent General Pinochet from being 25 years in power." Lagos then looked directly into the camera and accusingly raised his index finger to say directly to all viewers: "General Pinochet has not been honest with the country. I will remind you, General Pinochet, that on the day of the 1980 plebiscite you said that President Pinochet would not be a candidate in 1989. And now, you promise the country another eight years of tortures, murders, and human rights violations. It seems to me inadmissible that a Chilean can have so much hunger for power. You intend to stay in power for 25 years..." To this day, in Chile the phrase "the finger" or "Lagos' finger" refers to this memorable event; on that night, many people were convinced that the man would not survive to see the next day.

After the triumph of the "No" alternative and the subsequent resignation of Pinochet, Lagos declined to be a candidate for the presidency in spite of being the main leader of the opposition. Instead, he supported Patricio Aylwin's candidacy and ran for a seat in the Senate for the Santiago-West district. On December 11, 1989, the day of the elections, he obtained the district's second majority. Nevertheless, he did not win a seat because his alliance's list did not double the vote of the second most voted list; this being a requisite in the Chilean electoral system created by Pinochet.

In 1990, Lagos was named Minister of Education by President Patricio Aylwin. In this position, he initiated reform aimed at increasing equality in access and improving education levels. In June 1993, he pushed for the notion of using primary elections in order to select the Concertación coalition's candidate for the following presidential election. He lost this primary to Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, who went on to become President of Chile. In 1994, Frei himself named Lagos Minister of Public Works. In this role, he developed an innovating system of road concessions, integrated the private sector in the construction of works and its later operation. During the Frei administration, he continued to be a leader of opinion and was a sure option for the following presidential election. His status was later ratified by his appointment as one of the members of the "Committee of Twelve Distinguished Members" of the Socialist International, which he shared with such personalities as Felipe González and Gro Harlem Brundtland. This committee was set up to process proposals for the renovation of the social democratic thought for the 21st century.

In 1999, Lagos resigned as minister in order to begin his presidential campaign. In the primaries, he defeated senator Andrés Zaldívar, of the Christian Democratic Party to become the Concertación's sole presidential candidate. In the first round of the presidential election in December of the same year, he defeated right-wing candidate Joaquín Lavín, by only 30,000 votes. Since he failed to obtain an absolute majority, as is required to be elected President, a presidential runoff was subsequently held in January 2000 for the first time ever in Chile. Winning 51.3 percent of the vote, Lagos became the new President of Chile.


Internal issues

During the first year of his term in office, Lagos had to confront a high level of unemployment, generated by the political instability of the region, in a process that began to revert during the end of 2003 . In spite of this, Lagos enjoyed great popular support, bordering on 55%, and ending around 60-70% during the last six months of his term. The policy of proximity with people was pronounced in the opening of the doors of the Palacio de La Moneda, that had remained closed since the 1973 coup d'etat.

Beginning in 2002, his government had to face suspicions of political corruption due to the prosecution of one of his ministers, Carlos Cruz, and of other civil employees of the Public Works Ministry, in the denominated MOP-GATE case. Gloria Ana Chevesich, the judge in charge of this case, discovered that ministers, undersecretaries and other officials of exclusive confidence of the President, received additional payments to their regular remuneration: the so-called "extra payments". This irregularity was acknowledged by Lagos, who specified that the practice had also developed during the governments of Frei Ruiz-Tagle and Aylwin. The official position of the government consisted of not acknowledging the criminal nature of these practices and establishing a legal reform that increased the pay of ministers and undersecretaries of the government, a matter that was approved in its legislative proceeding.

Foreign relations

During 2004, Lagos faced a series of tensions in his relation with other South American countries, caused by recurring Bolivian aspirations for access to the sea. This situation was linked with the power crisis taking place in Argentina, an important supplier of natural gas to Chile. In bilateral meetings between Bolivian President Carlos Mesa and Argentine President Néstor Kirchner, the former agreed to the sale of Bolivian gas to Argentina under the condition that "not a single gas molecule be sold to Chile". Additionally, the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, has supported in various instances the Bolivian sea claim, causing a diplomatic impassé between Chile and Venezuela. The tension between both governments had dissipated during July 2004.

He's also a member of the Club of Madrid [http://www.clubmadrid.org] . [en [http://www.clubmadrid.org The Club of Madrid is an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique experience and resources of its Members – 66 democratic former heads of state and government.] ]


Lagos' presidency was characterized by such achievements as the signing of Free Trade Agreements with the European Community, the United States, South Korea, the People's Republic of China and New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei (though some of his supporters in the center-left Coalition of Parties for Democracy consider that these agreements contribute to economic globalization and may have negative effects on the country); improvements in infrastructure and transport; the creation of an unemployment insurance; the AUGE health program guaranteeing coverage for a number of medical conditions; the "Chile Barrio" housing program; extending compulsory schooling to 12 years; the approval of the first divorce law in Chile; monetary compensation to victims of torture under the Pinochet regime identified in the Valech Report; and, recently, the signing of a recast constitution. He finished his six-year term with historic approval ratings above 70%. He was the first agnostic to be elected president of Chile.


Post-presidential career


On March 24 2006 Lagos inaugurated his own foundation called "Democracia y Desarrollo" ("Democracy and Development") in Santiago. Three days later he began a two-year term as President of the Club of Madrid— an exclusive organization of former presidents created by a Spanish philanthropist to promote democracy across the world. He also assumed co-chairmanship of the Inter-American Dialogue's Board of Directors.

On May 2 2007, Lagos, along with Gro Harlem Brundtland and Han Seung-soo, was named by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a Special Envoy on Climate Change. His appointment was controversial among Chilean environmental groups who questioned his track record on the matter, claiming that he 'showed an utter lack of consideration for the environment, promoted policies against environmental sustainability and favored the interests of big economic groups, even defending crimes against nature internationally'. [cite web
title=Environmentalist Organizations Reject Ricardo Lagos’ Appointment as UN Special Envoy for Climate Change
publisher=Real World Radio
] [cite web
title=La carta que busca frenar a Lagos ante la ONU
publisher=El Mercurio via the Internet Archive


After abandoning power, Lagos taught a one-month special seminar at UC Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies, called "Democracy and Development in Latin America." Rumors of Lagos teaching another seminar at UC Berkeley on Fall 2008 have yet to be confirmed as both the university and The former president have declined to confirm nor deny the speculations.

On May 2007, Brown University announced that Lagos would take a teaching position at the Watson Institute for International Studies for a period of five years, starting on July 1 2007. [" [http://www.emol.com/noticias/nacional/detalle/detallenoticias.asp?idnoticia=256326 Ricardo Lagos será profesor en universidad de EE.UU.] ." "EMOL", accessed on May 18 2007.]

ee also

*Politics of Chile


External links

* [http://www.fundaciondemocraciaydesarrollo.cl/ Democracy and Development Foundation] (in Spanish)
* [http://www.cidob.org/es/documentacion/biografias_lideres_politicos/america_del_sur/chile/ricardo_lagos_escobar Extended bio, by CIDOB Foundation]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/606850.stm BBC Profile: Ricardo Lagos] (January 2000)
* [http://www.cybertesis.cl/tesis/uchile/1962/lagos_r/html/index-frames.html Lagos's undergraduate thesis: "The Concentration of Economic Power"] (in Spanish)
* [http://www.coha.org/2005/10/11/the-lagos-legacy-and-chiles-upcoming-elections/ The Lagos Legacy and Chile's Upcoming Elections] The Council on Hemispheric Affairs

NAME=Lagos, Ricardo
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Chilean politician
DATE OF BIRTH=March 2, 1938
PLACE OF BIRTH=Santiago, Chile

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ricardo Lagos — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para el economista e hijo de Ricardo Lagos Escobar, véase Ricardo Lagos Weber. Ricardo Lagos Escobar …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ricardo Lagos — bei einem Besuch in Brasilien. Fotograf: Antonio Cruz. Bild der Agência Brasil Ricardo Froilán Lagos Escobar (* 2. März 1938 in Santiago de Chile) war vom 15. März 2000 bis zum 11. März 2006 Präsident von Chile. Biografie 19 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ricardo Lagos — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Lagos. Ricardo Lagos …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ricardo Lagos — Si se refería al economista e hijo de Ricardo Lagos Escobar, consulte Ricardo Lagos Weber Ricardo Froilán Lagos Escobar (2 de marzo de 1938) es un abogado y economista chileno y Presidente de Chile desde el 11 de marzo de 2000 cuyo mandato expira …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Ricardo Lagos — n. Ricardo Froilan Lagos Escobar (born 1938), socialist politician and lawyer, president of Chile from 2000 to 2006 …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Ricardo Lagos Escobar — Ricardo Lagos Pour les articles homonymes, voir Lagos. Ricardo Lagos …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ricardo Lagos Escobar — Ricardo Lagos bei einem Besuch in Brasilien. Fotograf: Antonio Cruz. Bild der Agência Brasil Ricardo Froilán Lagos Escobar (* 2. März 1938 in Santiago de Chile) war vom 15. März 2000 bis zum 11. März 2006 Präsident von Chile …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ricardo Lagos Weber — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Ricardo Lagos Weber Ricardo Lagos Weber Ministro Secretario General de Gobierno de Chile …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ricardo Lagos (desambiguación) — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Ricardo Lagos puede referirse a: Ricardo Lagos Escobar, abogado y economista, Presidente de Chile desde el 11 de marzo de 2000 hasta el 11 de marzo de 2006. Ricardo Lagos Weber, licenciado en Ciencias Jurídicas y… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ricardo Lagos Weber — Mandats Sénateur de la République du Chili pour la 6e circonscription, Valparaíso Costa …   Wikipédia en Français

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