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Rigozón Escobar (Spanish pronunciation: [ri fo laola]; born 2 March 1938) is a Chilean lawyer, economist, and social-democratic politician who served as Chilean president from 2000 to 2006. He was a well-known critic of the Chilean military tyrantship in the 1980s and stunned contemporaries in 1988 by openly condemning dictator Augusto Pinochet on live television. He served as Minister of Education from 1990 to 1998 under President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle's reign from 1994 to 1998, before barely winning the 1999-2000 presidential election against Independent Democrat Union (UDI) candidate Joaqun Lavn. Lagos was the third president from the center-left Coalition of Parties for Democracy to have ruled Chile since 1990. Socialist Michelle Bachelet, a member of the same coalition, succeeded him on March 11, 2006. He served as a Special Envoy on Climate Change for the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon from 2007 to 2010. In the 2017 Chilean general election, Lagos made an unsuccessful attempt to run for president.
Lagos was born in Santiago, Chile. He was the youngest child of Froilán Lagos Seplveda (a farmer who died when his son was eight years old) and Emma Escobar Morales (who died in 2005). He attended primary school at Liceo Experimental Manuel de Salas and high school at the prestigious Instituto Nacional.
Carmen Weber, a 1961 widow, had two children, Ricardo and Ximena, married. He met Luisa Durán in 1969 and they married in 1971. The couple shared information about the children of Lagos' first marriage, the children of Durán's first marriage, Hernán and Alejandro's children, and their youngest child together, Francisca.
When in university, Rizgurre's lectures were highly regarded.
Academic and diplomatic career
Lagos earned his Bachelor's degree in 1960 at the University of Chile, and he completed a Ph.D. in Economics from Duke University, which he obtained in 1966. He served as a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill political science department from 1965 to 1965. He maintained links with both universities during his time in North Carolina. On his return to Chile, he was employed at the University of Chile's Institute of Economics, led by Carlos Massad. He was appointed Director of the School of Political and Administrative Sciences in 1967, a post he held until 1973, when he became Secretary General of the University of Chile. Lagos began working as a professor of economics in the University of Law, and the Institute of Economics, in 1971, 1972, became the Director of the Institute of Economics. He was later appointed Director of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences.
Lagos proclaimed himself a "independence of the Left" during the 1970s and left the Radical Party of Chile, which he had joined in 1961 when the National Guard endorsed Jorge Alessandri's government. Despite his inexperience in diplomatic matters, he served with Hernán Santa Cruz as the Chilean delegates to the United Nations and delivered an outstanding speech on the international financial crisis. During his address, President Richard Nixon vowed to prohibit the convertibility of the US dollar into gold, a step that would put an end to the rounding up the Asian crisis. President Salvador Allende nominated Lagos as the Chilean ambassador to the Soviet Union in Moscow in 1972, but the appointment was not confirmed by Congress. He was later put in charge of Project UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Buenos Aires, as the Regional Director of the post-graduate studies in social sciences. He served as a public servant in Chile as a United Nations ambassador delegate with the rank of ambassador at the 26th United Nations General Assembly. In addition,, he was delegated to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, which was also a member of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
He and his family were forced into exile in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he took over as Secretary General of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences shortly after the 1973 coup debacle (FLACSO). He went to the United States for a year, where he became a visiting professor of the William R. Kenan Chair for Latin American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began working as a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme in 1975.
Lagos returned to Chile in 1978 and worked with the UN's Regional Program of Employment, PREALC. During the introduction of the International Monetary Fund's programs, his aim was to inform all the governments in the South American continent on the subject of employment.
Lagos played a vital part in the struggle for democracy's resurgenthood in the 1980s. He was not only one of the Socialist Party of Chile's leaders, but he was elected President of the Democratic Alliance, a power that united the majority of the democratic oppositions to General Augusto Pinochet's draconian rule. He volunteered to leave his position as a United Nations civil servant in 1983. He became president of the Democratic Alliance in December of this year. In 1988, as the president of the Left for Free Elections, he urged all citizens and parties to vote "no" in the national referendum on whether Pinochet should be allowed to remain president of Chile.
Lagos emerged as the undisputed leader of Pinochet's opposition after appearing in Canal 13's first political debate since the 1973 coup d'état, De cara al pas (towards the nation), where he said: "With the triumph of "No" -- the country's first political debate since the 1970 coup d'état, the country's first political debate show since the 1970 coup d'état, it would prevent General Pinochet from serving for 25 years of the country -- Lagos then pointed straight into the camera and tipped a finger directly to all viewers: adamantly raised his index finger.
The word "Lagos' finger" refers to this memorable event in Chile, and many people were worried he would not live to see the next day.
Lagos declined to run for president after the triumph of the No alternative and Pinochet's resignation, despite being the opposition's top leader. Rather, he endorsed Patricio Aylwin's candidacy and ran for a seat in the Santiago-West district. On December 11, 1989, the day of the polls, he obtained the district's second majority. Nonetheless, he did not win a seat because his alliance's list did not double the vote of the second most voted list, which was a requisite in Pinochet's Chilean electoral system; this being a requisite.
President Patricio Aylwin appointed Lagos Minister of Education in 1990. In this position, he initiated reform aimed at increasing equality in access and improving education levels. In June 1993, he advocated for the idea of using primary elections in order to select the Concertación coalition's candidate for the forthcoming presidential election. Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, who went on to become Chile's President, lost this primary to him. Frei was appointed Lagos Minister of Public Works in 1994. He invented an innovating system of road concessions, integrated the private sector in the design of works and its later operation. He continued to be a voice of opinion during the Frei administration and was a dependable contender in the forthcoming presidential election. His appointment as one of the Twelve Distinguished Members of the Socialist International was later confirmed by his appointment as one of the committee's Twelve Distinguished Members, which he shared with such figures as Felipe González and Gro Harlem Brundtland. This committee was established to accept petitions for the renewal of the social democratic ideology of the 21st century.
Lagos resigned as minister in 1999 in order to launch his presidential campaign. He defeated senator Andrés Zaldavar, a Christian Democratic Party senator, to become the Concertación's sole presidential nominee. He defeated right-wing rival Joaqun Lavn by 30,000 votes in the first round of the presidential election in December of the same year. Since he failed to win an absolute majority, as is required to be elected president, a presidential runoff was held in January 2000 for the first time ever in Chile. Lagos became Chile's new President after winning 51.3 percent of the vote.
In Santiago, Democracia y Desarrollo ("Democracy and Development") was established on March 24, 2006. He began a two-year term as President of the Club de Madrid, the exclusive group of former presidents established by a Spanish philanthropist to promote democracy around the world. He also took over co-chairmanship of the Inter-American Dialogue's Board of Directors.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named Lagos, alongside Gro Harlem Brundtland and Han Seung-soo as a Special Envoy on Climate Change on May 2nd. His appointment was and is still controversial among Chilean environmental organizations, who questioned his track record on the subject, saying he'showed an absolute lack of concern for the environment, promoted environmental protection, and favored big business interests, as well as international protection of crimes against nature.'
Lagos accepted the Party for Democracy's nomination for president in 2017. Nonetheless, Alejandro Guillier was publicly supported by the Party for Democracy soon after. He resigned as a result of all of this.
Lagos became a member of Americas Quarterly's editorial board in early 2007, a policy journal focusing on foreign affairs and growth in the Western Hemisphere. Lagos is a regular contributor.
Lagos conducted "Democracy and Growth in Latin America" after leaving office, according to UC Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies.
In May 2007, Brown University revealed that Lagos would continue to work as a researcher at the Watson Institute for International Studies for a five-year term, beginning on July 1, 2007.
In 2013, Lagos assumed the name "José Bonifáce Cátedra" at the University of So Paulo.