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Michelle Bachelet

Veronica Michelle Bachelet Jeria is a center-left politician and was President of Chilethe first woman to hold this position in the country's history. She won the 2006 presidential election in a runoff, beating center-right billionaire businessman and former senator Sebastian Pinera, with 53.5% of the vote. A moderate Socialist, she campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile's free market policies, while increasing social benefits to help reduce the country's gap between rich and poor, one of the largest in the world. She was inaugurated on March 11, 2006.

In May 1975, Bachelet left Australia and moved to East Germany, to an apartment assigned to her by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) government in Am Stern, Potsdam; her mother joined her a month later (living separately in Leipzig). In October 1976 she began working at a communal clinic in the Babelsberg neighborhood, as a preparation step to continue her medical studies at an East German university. During this period she met architect Jorge Leopoldo Davalos Cartes, another Chilean exile, whom she married in 1977. In January 1978 she went to Leipzig to learn German at the Karl Marx University's Herder Institute (now the University of Leipzig). Her first child with Davalos, Jorge Alberto Sebastian, was born there in June, that same year. She returned to Potsdam in September 1978, to continue her medical studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin for two years. Five months after enrolling as a student, however, she obtained authorization to return to her country.

In 1990, after democracy was restored in Chile, Bachelet worked for the Ministry of Health's West Santiago Health Service and was a consultant for the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the German Corporation for Technical Cooperation. While working for the National AIDS Commission (Conasida), she became romantically involved with Anibal Hernan Henriquez Marich, a fellow physicianand right-wing Pinochet supporterwho fathered her third child, Sofia Catalina, in December 1992; their relationship ended, however, a few years later. Between March 1994 and July 1997, Bachelet worked as Senior Assistant to the Deputy Health Minister.

Related websites

Registro Nacional de Prestadores Individuales de Salud



Presidencia de la Republica

Official presidential campaign site

Biography by CIDOB Foundation

PBS Newshour - Interview transcript with video

"The woman taking Chile's top job"

"The unexpected travails of the woman who would be president"

"Bachelet's citizens' democracy"

"With a New Leader, Chile Seems to Shuck Its Strait Laces"

"Welcome Madam Chilean President to Washington"

Feature on Michelle Bachelet

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