From the Houston Chronicle:
SANTIAGO, CHILE - Chileans will choose a new president Sunday, likely making a woman their leader for the first time and helping to consolidate Latin America's shift to the political left.
Michelle Bachelet, a socialist and the candidate for a coalition that has governed Chile since the end of Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 dictatorship, is a strong favorite to win the election on promises to keep the booming economy on track.
Sebastián Piñera, the billionaire leader of a rightist alliance that has been in opposition for 15 years, has seen his support dwindle in the last stretch of the race as he failed to rally big business and impoverished women voters.
"There are no more obstacles in Bachelet's road to La Moneda," sociologist and political commentator Eugenio Tironi said in a newspaper editorial, referring to Chile's presidential headquarters.
If she wins, Bachelet will bolster a leftist tendency in Latin America, where socialist Evo Morales won the presidency in Bolivia last month, joining leftists leading Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Bachelet, 54, was imprisoned and tortured at the beginning of the dictatorship. She first captured the Chilean imagination when as former victim of Chile's armed forces she became an unlikely defense minister in 2002 under popular President Ricardo Lagos.
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