“It was lobbyist of a gas company? “That was one of the leading questions -during the last televised presidential debate- that the standard-bearer of the New Social Pact, Yasna Provoste, asked the candidate of Chile Podemos +, and where an uncomfortable Sebastián was seen Sichel, defending his work as a “lawyer” and discarding having had clients as clients of companies in a field that is now in the foreground, after the lapidary report of the National Economic Prosecutor’s Office (FNE) that left a smell of “collusion” hovering in the environment.
As is his tonic, Sichel flatly denied it. Despite this, it is known that among the contributors of his career to La Moneda, the candidate from Chile Podemos + has a long list of donors – which includes incumbents of the gas market – who have opened their wallets in their favor, both in primary school and for the first round. Not surprisingly, he is listed as “the businessmen’s candidate”, in addition to being “the continuity candidate.”
For some in his sector this data, added to the latest revelations about the contributions of fisheries in his time as a candidate for DC deputy, recharges an already heavy backpack, such as combining his character of “independent” with the relationship with the official parties, from where it has already had several losses in support.
According to the registry of the Electoral Service (Servel), representatives of the boards of the 3 main companies linked to gas –which are currently in the eye of the hurricane– have provided financial support, but not their opponents.
On September 14, the vice president of Abastible, José Odone Odone, contributed 1 million pesos. Days later, on September 21, he received $ 5 million from the vice president of Lipigas, Jaime García Rioseco, and two deposits from one of the directors of Lipigas, José Miguel Barros Van Hovell Tot Westerflier, for $ 5 million each, that is to say , a total of $ 10 million. On September 29, meanwhile, he added $ 500 thousand from one of Gasco’s directors, José Ignacio Laso Bambach.
Contributions to Sichel are the highest in the campaign and already exceed $ 871 million in total, almost doubling Yasna Provoste, who is next on the list of contributions with more than $ 440 million. Just in these few days in October, he has received more than $ 120 million.
In the select list of the PUC lawyer, other names that stand out are Paola Assael Montaldo, one of the directors of BancoEstado, who contributed $ 5 million, and Pablo Piñera, brother of the President, who donated 1 million pesos.
Among those who were more generous with the wallet, with contributions of more than 10 million pesos, is Juan Pablo Cox Irarrázaval, who transferred $ 12 million to the campaign. Cox is listed as a partner and manager of development, administration and finance for Wood Inmobiliaria. He is joined by Juan Agustín Vial Claro, who donated $ 10 million, and who appears as part of Inversiones Chercán Ltda. And Agrícola Río Pangal SpA. The former president of the CPC, Andrés Santa Cruz, joined with $ 10.5 million.
His two largest contributors in money are a father and son: Tomás Müller Sproat, founder of Altis –one of the administrators that led the blind trust of President Piñera in 2010– and former Chilean ambassador to the United Kingdom, contributed $ 14,550,000. His son, Tomás Müller Benoit, director of Plaza SA – behind Mall Plaza – added $ 14 million.
The shards of old silver
The economic contributions have been a constant flank for the presidential standard-bearer, both because of his closeness to big business and because of the financing of his political past, which came to light in a report issued by CNN-CHV and that it involved the then candidate for deputy for the DC, Sebastián Iglesias, with irregular payments to finance his campaign in 2009.
Once the report was known, the tension was felt throughout the official arc. It was not just another blow to the already downcast presidential campaign. In this case, the current applicant for La Moneda de Chile Podemos +, was installed almost automatically on the list of politicians marked by the type of crime that hit national politics the hardest years ago and that forced the reform of the Electoral Law, with in order to make the link with business interests transparent.
The report was another hard blow to the credibility of a candidate who had not yet risen from several episodes that have been piercing his career, without sufficient response to convince him of an eventual rebound. Having hidden the retirement of 10 percent, his poor performance in both debates and a campaign that has failed to pristinely develop the balance between those he represents and with respect to whom he seeks to fight for second place in the presidential race, added this to an antipolitical speech that does not convince his own – all questions coming from the ruling party -, meant for many on Tuesday night the end of the competition, as they made it known through different internal chats.
All this, with little more than a month left for elections where the sector knows that life is at stake, if not in La Moneda, then in Parliament. And, as things are, the degraded image that its standard-bearer drags today, rather than contributing to the candidacies, today only remains, as they make explicit in private. “Piñera Syndrome”, they call it.
In Chile Podemos + they are aware that they are in the middle of a perfect storm against their aspirations, with less than a third in the Constitutional Convention, with a single governor in the whole country, and with the loss of a high number of municipalities, including emblematic ones such as Maipú, Ñuñoa, Santiago or Viña del Mar. Faced with this scenario, the parliamentarians acquired the character of “life or death”.
In the internal analyzes, the potential loss of several seats in the next elections is already weighted, mainly due to the overflow logic of a government and a President with very low approval and high rejection. Now, to the regret of many – as they indicated – another backpack is added to the candidates already deployed: the image of a standard-bearer stained by “political silver”, which they will inevitably have to consider in their calculations.
In this way, many were not surprised by the different options that began to be put on the table, and one of them pointed out that, if the doors were not opened to the parties in command, the efforts would begin to be diverted towards “Save one’s own”, that is, the candidacies for Congress.
This Thursday, in RN the photo session for the campaign is scheduled, in which the presence of the former Christian Democrat is considered. But after what happened, it is not clear how they are going to face this situation, considering that they would have already received messages from different candidates to Parliament that they would not want to appear with their presidential candidate. One of the options being considered was to superimpose Sebastián Sichel in a kind of “capsule” in the propaganda. But as of press time, the matter had not been resolved.
And it is that, although it is publicly denied every time they are asked, it is known and confessed that both within RN and the UDI the disaffection with the campaign, the candidate and his command, is increasingly deep, and the lock that they put on the interference of the political forces that support Sichel has only made its development more complex. Whether at the level of territorial, communicational deployment, as well as political baggage, it is not uncommon to hear that from the political parties, for every mistake made by the former Piñera minister, he points directly to his command, detaching himself from his responsibilities, mainly because “We don’t have them,” they point out.
After the meeting that sat the leaders of the command with the leaders of Chile Podemos +, and where it was agreed to move forward, based on the strategy of “victimization”, and point the responsibilities to the Christian Democracy – as was made clear in Sichel’s spokesperson and an impulsive Juan José Santa Cruz–, there were not a few who assimilated that with “the Titanic orchestra”. “We do not give up, but we know that we are sinking,” they confess in the ruling coalition.