Far-right candidate José Antonio Kast took most of the criticism Monday evening during the last TV debate featuring five of the six presidential candidates to take part in next Sunday's elections.
Most polls agree there will be a runoff, scheduled for December 19, which is likely to pitch Kast against left-wing candidate Gabriel Boric of the I Approve Dignity coalition.
The debate climaxed when Kast, of the Republican Party (PP) was asked for an explanation as to why he supported the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).
Consistent with his endorsement of Pinochet, Kast opposes homosexuality and abortion. He leads most surveys but not by a margin wide enough to secure a first-round victory.
That advantage would explain why he was cornered in a tense tone by the rest. He for now he leads the polls for the presidency.
You are a threat to democracy and the protective state, the leftist candidate Marco Enríquez-Ominami, told Kast, whom he also described as Mister Fear.
Boric said Kast's plans include a series of discriminatory acts that put at risk advances that have been substantive in terms of human rights.
Meanwhile, Yasna Provoste of the Christian Democrats said it was unfortunate that a person is unaware that in the days prior to the 1989 elections they [the Pinochetists] continued to torture and imprison people.
Among Kast's ideas should he be elected is the building of a ditch on the northern border to prevent the crossing of migrants, mainly Venezuelans and Haitians. He also favors the detention of opponents to be kept in custody in places other than prisons whenever a state of exception is decreed.
Kast, who has openly supported Cuban demonstrations against President Miguel Díaz-Canel, defined the 1989 Chilean elections as democratic, free and informed, although at the time Pinochet was still in office.
The candidate also denounced the existence of a gay lobby that seeks to influence people. He also insisted that an educational program that makes one-parent families visible was indoctrination.
Kast is also against abortion and is in favor of terminating the Ministry of Women, which should be integrated into a Family Ministry.
”I have no problem with the homosexual world (...) No one can ever say that I have discriminated against someone, said the overconfident 55-year-old lawyer, who added at a post-debate press conference that we are doing well and it shows, because all the candidates were concerned about what I was saying.
I believe in democracy, I am a democrat. If Congress passes a law and I don't have majorities, it will clearly be a law, Kast promised on Twitter.
The ultra-conservative, who started as a residual candidate, became over the weeks one of the two favorites in the polls, stealing support from Sebastián Sichel, who the incumbent Sebastián Piñera had singled out to vie for his succession.
The 35-year-old Boric called for all leftwing voters to join forces behind him. We are all going to need each other. Enough kicking the shins,” said Boric.
Sebastián Sichel, the candidate of the government coalition, also lashed out at Kast and Boric, posing as a centrist who would guarantee governance.
Other candidates to the presidency are the progressive Marco Enríquez-Ominami, Eduardo Artés (radical left) and Franco Parisi, a controversial economist who resides in the United States and who was not at the debate after testing positive for covid-19.