At 36, World’s Youngest Leader Boric Electrifies UN Assembly

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s youngest leader, Chile’s President Gabriel Boric, sounded the alarm on the risk of social unrest, reminding his more experienced colleagues gathered at the United Nations that discontent that exploded locally can be repeated around the world.

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In a passionate speech calling for more government accountability, Boric said at the UN General Assembly that demonstrations that led to dozens of deaths, destroyed public infrastructure and widespread vandalism in late 2019 were the result of years of injustice. Outrage over inequality and poor basic services can lead to uprisings in other countries, he said.

“I invite you all to get ahead in the search for greater social justice,” Boric said Tuesday in his UN debut, triggering roaring applause. “Distributing wealth and power in a better way should go hand-in-hand with sustainable growth.”

A former student protest leader, Boric rose to prominence during nationwide demonstrations and won the presidency last year in what was initially seen as a long-shot campaign. At 36, he is seen as the new face of the political left in Latin America, which focus on causes from feminism to protecting the environment and fighting inequality.

Still, his administration has been hit by early woes at home, including the rejection of a proposed new constitution that it had backed and rising crime and cost of living problems. His approval rating plunged in the first weeks in office and stands at 38%, according to a Cadem survey published this week.

Read More: Chile’s Boric Fires Ministers After Bitter Referendum Defeat

In the speech, Boric also expressed confidence that Chile will have a constitution that it can be “proud of” in the short-term. He said the country will solve its challenges in a democratic way and made an ardent defense of accepting diverging political views as remedy for a polarized world.

The Chilean president called on leaders to avoid turning a blind eye to human rights violations around the world, from Iran to Venezuela and Nicaragua. He also made a staunch defense of Ukraine, criticizing Russia’s “unjust” invasion of that country.

Read More: Leftist Boric Wins Chile Presidency Pledging Economic Revamp

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