Fmr. Chile president visits Bay Area

May 5, 2010 8:02:06 PM PDT
Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile, was in the Bay Area visiting UC Berkeley and International High School in Oakland.

Bachelet has been in the Bay Area this week to tour the Berkeley Seismological Lab and to talk about the progressive changes in Chile made during her presidency. She served from 2006-2010. Presidents in Chile are not allowed to serve more than one term.

In late February of this year, during the final days of her presidency, Chile suffered one of the worst earthquakes in history. California and Chile have those earthquakes in common and she says we can share our knowledge of earthquakes. She also says we can create partnerships in the energy sector and we both have a strong wine industry.

"Chile has the driest desert in the world Atacama desert and we have a huge potential in solar energy so we are doing a lot on that and we are creating a center for renewable energy," she said.

Bachelet lived in Chile during Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship. She and her mother were captured and tortured during that time. They eventually managed to escape to Australia and later Germany. Years later she came back to Chile to work in politics, eventually becoming the president.

Bachelet also visited International High School in Oakland this morning. There, students are newly arrived from different countries around the world. Many of them are still struggling to learn English and the American way of life. Bachelet reminded them to never give up if they wanted to fulfill their dreams.

"All of us may be different, but we are all important, we can all be part of a nation, part of society and for me this is very deep," Bachelet said.

During the discussion with students she mentioned she had met Joan Baez last night. She added, "I know you probably don't know who she is but, oh my God, I loved her music in the 60s."


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