Chile’s 23-year-old student leader Camila Vallejo, has been chosen as the person of the year in a poll of readers of British newspaper, The Guardian. Vallejo, the international face of 2011’s student protests in Chile, topped the poll with an overwhelming 78% of votes.
The result came a week after Vallejo was awarded the same title in a survey by Chile’s Radio Cooperativa in conjunction with a polling company and local university.
The Guardian, one of the United Kingdom’s most influential publications, played a key role in the publication of thousands of un-redacted United States State Department cables released by Wikileaks.
The paper was also at the forefront of investigations into the News of the World phone hacking scandal. The paper, well known as a major progressive voice in the British media, has already written extensively on Vallejo.
In a recent profile, entitled “Latin America's 23-year-old new revolutionary folk hero,” Guardian journalist Jonathan Franklin described Vallejo as an “eloquent and attractive young woman who exudes self-confidence and style.”
Franklin said that Vallejo had been the “face” of a “wildly popular student uprising that has transformed the nation's political agenda.”
This most recent accolade confirmed Vallejo’s position as an international media icon, a rise from obscurity that has spanned her term as president of the student federation of the Universidad de Chile in 2011 and spokesperson for the university student movement.
Over the course of the year, Vallejo was invited to form part of a delegation that met with Brazilian president Dilmah Rousseff, went to Europe to meet politicians and intellectuals, held a series of meetings with Chilean ministers, and convened marches that drew hundreds of thousands to the streets.
Vallejo has been a social-media phenomenon, with more than 355,000 followers on her twitter account.
The person, who received the second highest number of votes, claiming 14.9% of the total, was Mohammed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire, an act that sparked uprisings around the Arab world.
Tariq Jahan, who called for calm in the community of Birmingham after his son was killed in rioting, had the third highest percentage of votes with 1.7%.
The people of the Japan’s Fukushima area, which was devastated by a nuclear melt-down after a powerful earthquake and tsunami, received 1.3% of the votes while German chancellor Angela Merkel scored 1.2%.
By Joe Hinchliffe – The Santiago Times