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Monday, 17 January, 2000, 16:53 GMT
Profile: Ricardo Lagos

Ricardo Lagos Ricardo Lagos: Chile's man of the moment

Most Chileans will remember 61-year-old Ricardo Lagos, the newly-elected president, as the man who, some 12 years ago, gave a bold televised criticism of General Pinochet at a time that the military strongman was still in power.

He criticised 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.

But that televised attack on General Pinochet's rule was not Ricardo Lagos's first instance of opposition to the general.

He had served in the government of Salvador Allende - the man that Gen Pinochet deposed in a bloody military coup in 1973 - and he remained a long-time dissident of the military regime.

Education and political life

Ricardo Lagos was born on 2 March 1938, and attended the University of Chile where he received a law degree.

Ricardo Lagos Ricardo Lagos: Victorious

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.

Campaign for democracy

In 1987, Ricardo Lagos formed the Party for Democarcy (PPD) which is now part of the ruling Concertacion alliance.

Following the return of democracy to Chile in 1990, Mr Lagos served first as education minister for two years and then as public works minister in the government of outgoing president Eduardo Frei from 1994 to 1998.

The newly-elected president married his second wife, Luisa Duran, in 1971 and they have one daughter.

He has two sons from his first marriage.

The truth is, I'm a little timid
Ricardo Lagos
Some reports have spoken of his love for tennis and the theatre.

Mr Lagos, who is widely regarded as moderate leftist, will be Chile's first socialist president since Salvador Allende was overthrown some 27 years ago.

But he is quick to move away from the past and point the way to the furture. "I will be the third president of the Concertacion, not the second socialist president," he said.

His critics say he is arrogant and complacent but his supporters defend him as man who is just eager to get things done. "The truth is, I'm a little timid," he said.

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17 Jan 00 |  Americas
Pinochet challenge for president
17 Jan 00 |  Media reports
Lagos vows to heal past wounds

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