José Antonio Kast

José Antonio Kast

José Antonio Kast was born in 1966, in Santiago, Chile. He has a law degree from the Catholic University of Chile and started his professional career as a lawyer; in 1989 he co-founded the law firm, Kast, Pinochet, De La Cuadra & Cia, and was appointed Professor of Civil and Commercial Law at the Catholic University. He joined the Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party during his years at university and served as a city councillor from 1996 to 2000, as well as representing various city wards over the next fourteen years. Kast served as General Secretary of the UDI party for two years. He later resigned from the UDI party in order to stand for President as an independent candidate.

Kast has described himself as a “right-wing person with a lot of social conscience, who wants to do things right.” In the past, he has been highly critical of Venezuela and Cuba, countries which he has often described as dictatorships. He has called on President Michelle Bachelet to take a tougher stance towards the regime of Nicolas Maduro, and has stated that he “would break our relations with Venezuela, and the international community should tell Maduro to step down from his post.” Elsewhere, he has stated, “There will be no diplomatic representation in Venezuela and Cuba until democracy is restored and the basic human rights of all its inhabitants are guaranteed. Chile has an obligation to play a fundamental role in the development of Latin America and cannot remain a mere observer of the abuse of human rights in the continent.”

He takes a more favourable view of the regime in China, compared to the Latin American regimes, saying “there is difference, [the Chinese] are evolving.” He said that “In China, communism, which they try to apply in the case of Cuba and Venezuela, no longer exists. China is moving fast and will end in a democracy.” 

Speaking about the long-standing territorial dispute with neighbouring Bolivia, Kast has stated that his first step would be to withdraw Chile from the Bogotá Pact, saying that “Chile has no current issues with any country (…) but with the president they have [Evo Morales] it is difficult to reach agreements.” Elsewhere, he has stated that “we want to reaffirm the autonomy of Chile and its sovereignty that must be exercised in every corner of the country. For a long time we have been passive spectators of the communication abuses of our neighbors of the northeast and we have not responded with sufficient force and decision to the lies of the Bolivian government.” “Physical barriers are required on the Chile-Peru (170 km) and the Chile-Bolivia (1,000 km) border to support our police and to help to fight drug trafficking and smuggling at the border. In addition, we need to incorporate more technology for the detection and prosecution of border crimes.” However, he has conceded that if elected, he would “give them a free passage on the highway, and for all export and import possibilities. Chile should cooperate well with Bolivia.” 

Kast’s stance on abortion appears to be broadly “pro-life” while he has acknowledged that it is one of the most controversial issues in society. He said that “one of the first things I would try to finish is the abortion law (…) I have already drafted a bill that would repeal the abortion law.” He also added that “[I think] that the value of the family has been lost. We have to strengthen the family, I want to build a society that recognizes the value of the family.”

On the issue of LGBTQ rights, Kast has stated, “I do not have problems with two homosexuals living together, but having the right to get married is different (…) I am also opposed to the possibility of adoption for gay couples, I was always very clear about that.” 

He is in favour of controlling migration, commenting that “those people who are going to come must know that as of today, Chile is not ready to receive all people.” On another occasion, he has stated that “we will demand compliance with the current law and strengthen the controls and tools that the State has to effectively enforce the law. We believe that the immigration of people with qualifications and studies can contribute to the development of Chile and we must update our regulations to promote it. But we must also be rigorous in controlling our borders and in rejecting illegal immigration in every event.”  

Kast has spoken in favour of “…deepening the Pacific Alliance; to establish as a priority foreign policy the development of the Pacific Alliance from Canada to the Strait of Magellan, and to seek to incorporate countries such as the United States, Canada, Costa Rica and other Central American nations into common integration efforts, to the detriment of initiatives such as Celac or Mercosur.”  

He is in favour of increasing military spending, commenting that “the armed forces, in justified cases and as a strictly exceptional measure, will be able to collaborate in matters of public security when they are required in order to fight terrorism and drug trafficking. Improvements, innovation and new powers and attributions require a bigger budget. To this end, the limits of the use of the Fund created by the Copper Reserve Law will be revised so that these resources can be used to increase the available military budget, without this being detrimental to other equally important areas.”  

Kast has also spoken of the “establishment of a military alliance with the countries of South America to militarily protect the commercial interests of the region. Terrorism and piracy actions are a risk to the flowing trade of South American countries. A military alliance will be developed to coordinate actions to protect export activity.”

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