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Michelle Bachelet: 'I love my country'

The former Chilean leader and current presidential candidate discusses her political aspirations.

Last Modified: 02 Nov 2013 08:22
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Forty years ago, a military coup overthrew the leftist government in Chile. 

President Salvador Allende was killed, and thousands were arrested and tortured. Many died in prison, among them an army general loyal to Allende, Alberto Bachelet. 

His wife and daughter were also tortured and forced into exile - first to Australia and then to Germany.

The daughter, Michelle Bachelet, was elected president of Chile in 2006.

People are more aware of their rights, people are more empowered, people want not only to vote but also to influence ... the decisions of the leaders, of the people who are making the decisions at all levels. People want to be part of the construction of a more equal, more just, society.

Michelle Bachelet, Chilean presidential candidate

After serving her single term - as reelection is not allowed - she devoted herself to a role at the United Nations as head of its women's organisation.

But now she is back. Presidential elections will be held next month, and she wants to be Chile's leader once again.

"I love my country and I love the people of my country," Bachelet says. "And I couldn't, if I would say, be deaf to the call of millions of people asking me to come back to my country, to lead the process that we need to achieve in this new period in Chile."

But this time there is historic irony at play.

One of the candidates Bachelet is running against is Evelyn Matthei, the daughter of a high ranking air force commander who was a member of General Augusto Pinochet's military junta that took over the country in 1973.

And all of this is serving to remind people of Chile's troubled history, reopening its old wounds, but also raising questions about Bachelet.

Economically, the country is now more divided. Street protests are a common sight. And some say all this is the result of the economic programme she once supported as president.

Others point out that Bachelet's job at the UN had positioned her well to be a future secretary-general, and they do not understand why she gave it up.

"Chile is a country which has had positive development, and as such has been respected across the world, and has a lot of things to show and a lot of things to share with many countries," Bachelet says. "But we still have challenges, challenges like inequality."

"But what really changed, I would say, is probably as a consequence of democracy, people are more aware of their rights, people are more empowered, people want not only to vote but also to influence ... the decisions of the leaders, of the people who are making the decisions at all levels.

"People want to be part of the construction of a more equal, more just, society."

This week, on Talk to Al Jazeera, we sit down with Michelle Bachelet to discuss her future political aspirations and the challenges facing Chile.

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each weekat the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430 and 1930; Sunday: 1930; Monday: 1430 .  

Watch more Talk to Al Jazeera

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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