Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Patricio Aylwin Azócar (1918 - 2016): Chilean Statesman who presided over Democratic transition

"Mr. Aylwin was one of the great Latin American statesmen of our time. His struggle for democracy, social justice and human rights will remain an inspiration for the region and the world." -  Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations, April 16, 2016 

President Patricio Aylwin Azócar
Today, Patricio Aylwin Azócar, a great democrat, passed away. He presided over the restoration of democracy in Chile following 17 years of dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet in a nonviolent transition. He was president of Chile from 1990 until 1994. The Chile of today is a testament to his democratic legacy.

Patricio Aylwin Azócar was a Christian Democrat who rejected both the Marxism of Allende and the Militarism of Pinochet. He charted a middle path that avoided hatred, violence and embraced all Chileans as fellow citizens. Christian Democrats the world over are mourning his passing and honoring his memory.

I was honored to meet President Aylwin at his home on two occasions and engage him in conversation. First as a student in January of 2003 and the second time as a pro-democracy activist in 2010. It was a great honor to meet him and I mourn his passing and offer my prayers for him, his family and friends.

President Aylwin's diagnosis of what ails democracy remains relevant today and should be reflected upon. 
"[O]rdinary men and women may often feel unmotivated to exert their citizenship, either because they cannot tell the difference between the different alternatives, or because they have lost faith in the political classes, or because they feel that the really important issues are not in their power to decide."

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