It is the first time since the return of democracy in Chile that the elected president does not have his own house. Since he left his family home in southern Punta Arenas as a teenager, Gabriel Boric he has rented all his dwellings. The last one has been an apartment in Santiago that the 35-year-old former leftist deputy shares with his girlfriend, the same one that has already been ruled out as an official residence.
The youngest president in the history of Chile nor will he live in the palace of La Moneda. The emblematic building of 20,000 square meters that serves as the seat of Government has been more than 70 years without being an official residence. The last president who lived there was Carlos Ibáñez del Campo in 1958.
In addition to the important task of choosing the members of his cabinet, Boric He must deal with this urgent domestic issue: choosing where he will live while he is president since he takes office on March 11.
“What I don’t want is to go lock myself up in a neighborhood in the eastern sector of Santiago, I would like to live in the center, near the La Moneda office”, he said in December of last year Boric, who apparently will break the presidential tradition of living in the wealthiest districts of the capital, such as Las Condes, Providencia and La Reina, in the so-called Oriente de Santiago.
Regarding the La Moneda option, he has said that the conditions are not met. “You have to take care of your head, it is important to separate the workplace from the place where you sleep”, he explained.
on the hunt for a home
Chile it is one of the few countries in the region that does not have an official residence.
“Traditionally, presidents live in their homes or if for some reason the house or apartment they live in is not suitable, they rent something for the term of the presidency, as was the case with Michelle Bachelet. And by appropriate I mean security issues, spaces conducive to receiving visitors, but mainly security.”, explains the Trade Robert Funk, a scholar at the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Chile.
Susana Riquelme, a Chilean analyst at the University of Bío Bío and a member of the Network of Political Scientists, points out that what Boric it is to live in a place that is not so ostentatious, rather comfortable, where you can be close to La Moneda, but at the same time not reside in an elite commune like Providencia or Las Condes, which are the places where heads of state have lived in general .
“That has been what has attracted the most attention. He proposes, for example, living in San Miguel, which is a commune not from a high-rise neighborhood. I believe that this has marked the debate, especially on the subject of security.”, he tells this newspaper.
Funk also points out that La Moneda has been seen as a presidential workplace since the mid-20th century, basically because it is an office building. It was also not originally the house of the president nor was it suitable for that when the palace was rebuilt after the bombing in the 70s.
Although very few important acts are carried out in the official residence – generally meetings with closest advisers or some members of the cabinet – the issue of security is transcendental.
According to Carabineros, there are basic requirements that must be respected, especially with regard to privacy and security criteria. The first thing is to have enough space and more than one entrance and exit access. It is also recommended that the house is not located in front of tall buildings as a preventive measure against the eventual attack of a sniper. It also has to be close to a medical center.
The complex factor of safety
Another aspect that will enter into the balance for the choice of the new domicile of Boric is that this place should match your profile. The former student leader has been clear about his intentions to live in a middle-class commune.
Funk points out that the fact that the presidents stay at home or rent something suitable has always given a sign of closeness to the citizen and of being one more.
“I think Boric’s housing choice draws a bit more interest because of his character. He is an untraditional character, young, lives with his partner, but they are not married. He has said that he would like to live downtown, which is a place that has not been home to presidents for many years. This becomes the novelty, and due to security issues it becomes more complex to find a suitable place in that place.”, he adds.
Riquelme emphasizes that the house that will finally be will coincide with the message of closeness that Boric has sought to maintain since it jumped into the public eye. “He seeks to be in a place where he can move and circulate in the easiest way possible. In fact, he and his partner are quite austere in terms of comforts and that goes hand in hand with this more real face that Boric has raised”, he points.
And it is not an unimportant message. “Chile, especially the metropolitan region, is a fairly segregated socioeconomic place and the fact that the president chooses to live in a slightly more common place generates the feeling of closeness, that he has not changed and that he does not see himself as someone who enjoys many privileges for having a position like the one you have. This in a place as unequal as Chile is a good sign”, adds the expert.