Isabel Cocker/The Santiago Times Staff
SANTIAGO – On Wednesday, The Santiago Times sat down with right-wing independent José Antonio Kast at the Club de la Union. In the meeting with international press outlets, the candidate discussed his campaign, his strategies and his political beliefs.
Kast is running as an independent, but comes firmly from an institutional political background, having served in parliament since 2001. Formerly part of the Independent Democratic Union party, he left the party in 2016 when he presented his independent run for the presidency. However he still serves the districts of La Reina and Peñalolén in the Chamber of Deputies.
Kast believes that since the election of Bachelet in 2014, the country has weakened considerably, losing credibility in the eyes of the international community. He proposes to return the country to the strength that it found under the Piñera government, stating in his manifesto that “The next government will need to reconstruct the country […] the reconstruction of a dream of a developed country which has been dramatically discarded.”
He noted on Wednesday that immigration is of principle importance to him, and also to the people of Chile, stating that “we are an open country, but we need laws and we need control.”
He suggested that he would not be prosecuting anyone who has settled here illegally in the past, but underlined that illegal immigration needed to be controlled for the future. He posits a change in the migration law, and to reinforce the controls and tools which the State can use to ensure that this law is complied with by all.
Foreign relations within the Latin American region are, for him, currently at a weak point and need to be strengthened so that Chile can continue to grow economically. Many of the current diplomatic issues facing Peru, for example the dispute with Bolivia which is being presented in front of The Hague this week, can be resolved through dialogue and continued work by diplomats. However, in his manifesto he states that “[Chile] cannot maintain itself as a mere observer of the human rights violations which are being committed on the continent” and therefore wishes to break all diplomatic relations with Cuba and Venezuela, countries which he called “dangerous dictatorships”. He believes there is a need for physical barriers to be built along the borders with Peru and Bolivia, to reduce narcotrafficking and the passage of other contraband.
Kast is a committed Christian, and many of his manifesto promises reflect that he feels this belief is an integral part of the Chilean culture and governance. He wishes to repeal the newly-approved Abortion Law, stating the he “defends and protects those souls who cannot yet speak for themselves”. He does not support the proposed legalization of gay marriage, instead indicating that civil unions for homosexual couples perform a necessary function without the need for them to go to a church.
“I don’t have a personal agenda; my agenda is the political good of our country.”
The Santiago Times will be interviewing José Antonio Kast in a full video interview which will be published at the end of this month.