Chile experienced the political equivalent of an 9.5 earthquake after the polls closed at 6:00 PM on Sunday, December 19, 2021 in the final round of a presidential race many had felt too close to call.
Gabriel Boric, a charismatic 35 year old congressman and former student leader who hails from the left politically and from the far south of Chile geographically – Punto Arenas on the Straits of Magellan – won a decisive victory over José Antonio Kast, an ultra-right populist and admirer of Trump. Boric received the most votes for president in Chilean history, amassing an 11 point margin over his opponent, with the highest turnout since voting became voluntary nine years earlier.
This historic moment gets a bit ahead of our story. We had been invited by Gabriel Boric and Irina Karamanos, an anthropologist and his partner, to watch the returns with them on election eve. The results would prove defining for Chile but were also being closely watched throughout Latin America.