ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Welcome to the program, Madame President, and congratulations.
MICHELLE BACHELET: Thank you very much. I'm very pleased to be here today.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: The Sunday night celebration was very large -- tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of people. It was reminiscent of the Allende demonstrations in 1970. Their dream -- the people in the streets then -- was for a peaceful socialist revolution. What dream do you represent?
MICHELLE BACHELET: I think the dream, the challenge of opening, as President Lagos opened the doors of La Moneda, to many people
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: La Moneda, the national Palace -
MICHELLE BACHELET: Yes, the Presidential Palace. It's the opening of more opportunities, or equal opportunities, for everybody and of course for women and for young people, children, for adults and our old people too.
It's the idea of a country which will continue developing very successfully an economy -- but also a country -- whose economy is an instrument to produce more happiness, more justice, more equity. A country where humanism is an important word -- where the people are important. I think that's the sort of dream that I represent -- a country which is successful but where every person obtains benefits from this success.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: In your victory speech Sunday night, you said, "Because I was the victim of hate, I've consecrated my life to turning hate into understanding, tolerance, and why not say it -- love." As president, what policies will you follow to promote this kind of understanding and tolerance between those who were tortured and killed in the past and those tortured - like you.
MICHELLE BACHELET: Well, I won't begin this now. I started it when I was minister of defense, and I will be doing it wherever I am until the day I die.
It's the idea of how we're able to build places in our society where tolerance, understanding of diversity, integration -- and not discrimination -- will be main policies. When I'm speaking of love, when I'm speaking of reversing hate, I'm speaking not only of reconciliation -- I don't use that word -- I use "reencuentro" -- it's not exactly reconciliation….
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: It's more a "coming together"?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Yes, something like that, because "reconciliation" is related to forgiveness, and that's very individual. Some people forgive and some people do not. But let's use the word reconciliation here. ... We'll have to continue advancing in reconciliation between people who were victims and their families and people who were responsible for that.
But not only that. I am also thinking of re-coming together of people left behind, people who need to have equal opportunities. In one sense, reconciliation in the political arena, but also people who are poor and haven't had opportunities.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I want to talk a little bit about your own situation. For example, for you, it is important that the people who mistreated you and your mother and were responsible for the death of your father be tried? Have there been trials of the people responsible?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Some, not all. We were blindfolded so we couldn't recognize who the specific people were. But I don't look at this as a personal issue. I look at it as a process where justice must do the work. And the important thing is in our country we do have trials going on. We are advancing and under my government we will still advance on three great principles: truth, justice and reparation.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Reparations for those hurt?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Yes, for all the victims and families of the victims. That's the main issue. And we have been, I would say, walking in that direction and I will do all my efforts to continue in that direction. I mean, no impunity - no! I'm a doctor, I know when you have an injury, it will heal if it's clean enough. If your injury is dirty it won't heal. And so when we're talking about societies, we are also talking about healing, and for a good healing process you need to make things right and in that direction you need truth, justice and reparation.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Do you think Augusto Pinochet will ever be tried?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Yes, he has.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: He's been indicted -
MICHELLE BACHELET: Yes.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But in earlier cases it was decided he had slight dementia and so couldn't stand trial. There's no precedent in Chile, so this has to be decided, as I understand it, for each case. And more recently he's been indicted again. Do you think this time will he stand trial?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Well, we have some trials in process, in investigation. I won't give a specific opinion because I don't want to influence any decision of justice, but the important thing is that justice is doing its work. I respect that in our country we have three state powers: executive, justice and parliamentary, and I think they all must work independently and I will take and respect their decisions. We have to let them work. They'll decide what is best.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I was really interested at the celebration that night that many people said to me -- even people who suffered a lot under the dictatorship -- "We really appreciate the fact that Dr. Bachelet is willing to forgive". You suffered a lot, you don't like to talk about it. Your mother spent six days in a cage the size of a square. Your father died because of the tortures inflicted on him. He wrote letters --- the saddest letters one could imagine, about what happened to him.
How do you forgive -- I'm not going to say whether you forgive, I don't know -- but how do you come to this position of being so positive about the possibility for reencuentro - the coming together of the nation?
MICHELLE BACHELET: I wouldn't be honest if I told you that in some moment of my life I (didn't have) a lot of rage, probably hate -- I'm not sure of hate -- but rage. But, you know what happens is that you then realize you can't do to others what you think nobody has to do to anybody. Life is important for me. And not just any life. Quality of life. It's probably strange or difficult to understand but everything that happened to me made me not only rationally but emotionally get to a deep conviction, and that is I have to create all the conditions in our country, political conditions, social conditions, cultural conditions -- in order that we can guarantee to further generations that we will never have to live what we had to live. And that is a feeling that is so profound in me, so deep in me, that it's something natural.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You're a doctor, you were minister of health and then you started taking classes at the National War College. You became a military expert and then minister of defense. Is that why you did that? So you could make a difference in the military?
MICHELLE BACHELET: I don't know if it was so rational at the beginning. It was also because I understood that in a democracy, if we didn't solve correctly the relationship between armed forces and government, democracy wouldn't probably be as strong as we'd like it to; and I discovered that with the militaries you can deal always from a position of power, and the position of power is given if you're an authority or if you're an expert so you can dialogue on military issues.
I wasn't expecting at that time and never imagined I'd be a minister and after that a candidate to the presidency or a president, so I decided to study, to have knowledge, to be able to be a person who can discuss issues and analyze and have opinions and then be able to work on public defense policies, to be a civilian expert. So, that's a main reason, and in that sense to build bridges.
Because I understand in my life also, that when you are capable of developing confidence relations you are able to deal with anything, with any problem. If you're able to talk to someone with respect and with the knowledge that everyone, both persons or groups, are thinking of the benefit of everybody you can deal with anything. And I would say that's probably the main reason why -- while even though I am a woman with my history-- I not only had no the word "no" was left out of transcript)trouble being minister of defense with armed forces, but we had wonderful work together and it was a wonderful experience I would say.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You mentioned life is very important to you as a doctor. You worked with torture victims. You've spoken out against torture. As a doctor who's treated torture victims and now as president are you willing to become an international spokesperson at all to condemn and stop torture?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Chile has always had a clear foreign policy about this. We will always discuss every situation in particular and will always be a big promoter of the human rights all over the world and wherever there are violations, Chile will be clear that we want a world where human rights are respected.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How do you feel about the United States? You lived in the U.S. as a child. You know as a person who was a victim of Pinochet junta that the US put a lot of money and agents into subverting the Allende government and had very close relations with the secret police under Pinochet. How do you feel about the Untied States?
MICHELLE BACHELET: First of all I'd say my first contact with U.S. was when I was 12 and my father was in the Air Force Mission there in Washington, D.C., and we lived in Maryland and I went to what in that time was called -- now it's called ---
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Middle school?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Middle school. but in that time was called junior high school. But first I went to primary school and it was a very interesting experience. On the one hand, nobody had ever heard of Chile. They thought we lived in a primitive way. It was surprising to see that in the United States no one knew anything about Chile. They thought we lived in - like - Indian houses, stuff like that. It was very strange for me that such a huge and powerful country knew so little about so many other countries. That was when I was small. But I had a wonderful life there, and it was an important part of my personal experience. I had good friends. I loved going to public libraries. I read every book of Anna Louise (sic) Alcott - Little Women. I had a good life and was very happy.
Then I came back so many years after that when I went in '97 and '98 to the...
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Interamerican Defense College -
MICHELLE BACHELET: The Interamerican Defense College. I lived there a year with my children -- my three children -- and they had a wonderful experience. In the U.S., I feel very comfortable. People are very nice. You find wonderful people like in any other country and probably - different kinds of people - you know….
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: No bitterness about the Allende experience?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Well, I think that -- first of all, I was was talking about the people and you find wonderful people all over the world at any time in their history. Secondly, I think that the great problem is that we fell into this Cold War doctrine. I think what we shouldn't do is come into that perspective of the world again. I say that because sometimes you feel that when Latin America is seen, they see us with this perspective.
And I think we should be very careful in not oversimplifying what's happening in Latin America. And not "demonization". Because what happened in Latin America is ….What happened was because of the Cold War -- what happened in the Allende regime -- it was a "Communist struggle."
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You mean that's how Nixon administration saw it - as Communism?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Yes, but it was a long period when you divided the world between the ones who wear that color and that color and I think life is much more complicated.
And Latin America has great threats, but the great threat are poverty, the lack of integration of those without benefits, or those who are from the indigenous groups. So the thing is not to demonize one person or government or the other. The thing is how we can all work together to cooperate so the region of the Americas can work together so we have a better future.
And that's the area where I want to work. On the one hand, Latin America realizes that we're not on the main agenda of the big countries. They always look at us as trouble and don't see the great opportunities that exist; the big cultural traditions that exist, the wonderful beauties that we have. If you ask how would I like U.S. look at us -- look at us like countries with challenges and dilemmas, who are trying to do our best to give our nations our best, as Americans do with their own country, and we are interested in giving our people the best welfare we can.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Chile is so interesting because you have a Socialist Party that is also very much for free trade and free enterprise. How did that happen exactly? How did you get a Socialist Party different from the socialist movements of the rest of Latin America
MICHELLE BACHELET: Probably what happened in Chile is we had a big exile. A lot of people lived in Europe…
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You lived in East Germany. I wondered if the experience of the economy there affected your views?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Well, also because I know what's been successful, and that you need some flexibility and freedom in your economic model- because otherwise you don't get the best economy, the best alternative for the people. I would say we had people not only in Socialist Party - but in whole coalition…First of all we have a coalition.
First of all Chile in the '90s is completely different form the '70s - because of dilemmas and challenges. Some are the same and some are different. First of all, we recovered democracy. We have to develop democracy, the institutions, freedoms, etc..
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But it was interesting what you were saying - the experience of exile….
MICHELLE BACHELET: Yes but I was explaining that to be able to recover democracy we built a coalition where there are democratic parties, Socialist Party, Radical Social Democrat party and a Party for Democracy - so you have in this coalition different perspectives and also inside each party. Each party had people with different experiences. Some never left the country during the black period and some people who were in Europe or U.S. and some people who went outside to study master's and doctor's and some who got good and bad experiences, and then, I would say this coalition represented a broad perspective. Everybody had some objectives in common but also different perspectives and opinions on how to do it best.
But, also the world changed a lot in the meantime. I would say the parties of our coalition have understood the changes of the world and have adjusted some instruments but did not change the principles, or values of the party.
In that sense we still believe, as in the '70s, that people are fundamental, we want a society that is equal in terms of opportunities, who can assure justice - social justice - solidarity, respect and so on, a lot of values, principles, that continue the same. We haven't changed that. But we have learned the way to get there can be different.
You can do it in a world where, first of all, Chile is not so isolated but part of a global world. Second,we have a globalized economy. And no one believes in Chile in autarchic models. We are part of the world. We understand that every country has their sovereignty but also in some areas, sovereignty is also in some way restricted. I mean if we're in U.N. and we accept international agreements, we are giving a party of our sovereignty but because we gain for that. If we are for human rights it's because we believe it's good for us and good for everybody.
So in the same idea, we have learned a lot from the new world, and we are trying in this new world how we find new ways also to go to a country to build a society where we have justice and freedom, where human rights are respected, where economy is increasing and developing, but the benefits of the economy are not concentrated in a little group but in the majority of the people.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How are you different from the newly elected Evo Morales in Bolivia or Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. As you know the U.S. press says you're part of a leftward tilt in Latin America. How do you respond to that?
MICHELLE BACHELET: Now again I'd say not to oversimplify situations and not to make stereotypes. I think every country is a world, and every president responds to the needs of every country. Every country elects the person they believe best in order to obtain objectives in the sense of better welfare for people.
I don't like stereotypes - no kind of stereotypes. I believe in what I believe and I will do my best to fulfill the objectives and commitments I made during my campaign.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So you're different from them -- you're saying?
MICHELLE BACHELET: I mean I am not interested in looking at "am I different? Am I the same?" My interest here is to say a coalition. I have a program. I understand that no country is an island. We need to face a lot of issues together. We have common challenges and we have common opportunities and I'll work with all the presidents that are conducting their countries in order to obtain good results for our nations.
What I mean is -- if all of us want to have a voice in front of the world - we will be united. We have to organize and unite our forces, our voices in order to obtain the following results: to consolidate democracy in our region, to cooperate into better integration and economic cooperation and welfare for our countries and to guarantee a peaceful and civilized region.
And that's my main objective and I'll work with a lot of enthusiasm with all the presidents of the countries because I'm sure they want the same for their countries and the region.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Madame President-elect, I thank you very much for being with us.
MICHELLE BACHELET: Thank you very much.