Ricardo Lagos

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Ricardo Lagos President of Chile 2000-2006.

"Ricardo Lagos was born on 2 March 1938, and attended the University of Chile where he received a law degree. He left Chile for the US where he studied for a doctorate in economics at Duke Univeristy in North Carolina. He continued in academia before working for the United Nations as an economist from 1978 until 1984. Back in Chile in the 1980s, he headed a coalition of all parties opposed to the Pinochet regime and in 1986 he was arrested and detained without charge for three weeks following an assassination attempt on General Pinochet in which five of his bodyguards were killed.

"In 1987, Ricardo Lagos formed the Party for Democarcy (PPD). "Following the return of democracy to Chile in 1990, Mr Lagos served as the first education minister in the government of Patricio Aylwin for over two years and then as public works minister in the government of President Eduardo Frei from 1994 to 1998." Mr Lagos, widely regarded as moderate leftist, became in 2000 Chile's first socialist president since Salvador Allende was overthrown.

"Lagos' presidency was characterized by such achievements as the signing of Free Trade Agreements with the European Community, the United States, South Korea, the People's Republic of China and New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei; improvements in infrastructure and transport; the creation of an unemployment insurance; the AUGE health program guaranteeing coverage for a number of medical conditions; the Chile Barrio housing program; extending compulsory schooling to 12 years; the approval of the first divorce law in Chile; monetary compensation to victims of torture under the Pinochet regime identified in the Valech Report; and, recently, the signing of a recast constitution.

"Most Chileans will remember Ricardo Lagos as the man who at 51 gave a bold televised criticism of General Pinochet at a time that the military strongman was still in power, criticising the general for the "years of torture, murder and human rights violations" and expressed his disgust at the thought that Gen Pinochet wanted to rule Chile for 25 years. He had served in the government of Salvador Allende and he remained a long-time dissident of the military regime.

"He is married to Luisa Duran and they have one daughter." [1]

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  1. Directors, Global Humanitarian Forum, accessed December 2, 2009.
  2. Honorary Patrons, Global Leadership Foundation, accessed January 11, 2010.