Chilean MP Roberto León is committed to closing the gap between rich and poor. His political interest was sparked as a schoolboy growing up under dictatorship, and he now works for change both at home and across Latin America. He is serving as President of our Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade.
Why did you decide to run for parliament? What is your main motivation as an MP?
I am driven by a commitment to public service, and by the Christian principles I was taught at home. It is something I further developed at school and university at a time when my country was suffering under a dictatorship.
The fight for freedom of expression and my outrage at the violation of the human rights of many Chileans, in particular many of my fellow students, is at the heart of it all.
What is your earliest political memory? What made you become a politician?
At a very young age I felt the need to join a group where I could express and develop my Christian and political beliefs, taking part in a collective debate among youth regarding social development and other issues. After that, still very young, I became increasingly involved in political activity and I decided to formally join politics through the Christian Democrat Party.
What do you like most about being an MP?
Helping those in greater need and serving my country, and also contributing to closing the huge inequalities gap that still persists in many of our countries.
There is also a negative side to what we do as politicians. One is the bad image we have among our constituents and the other is the lack of full understanding of the role we play in society.
MPs are often accused of not being fully aware of the needs and problems of the average citizen. What do you do to keep direct contact with the constituents you represent?
I visit my district every week, including weekends. My office is permanently open to the constituents of my district and I have a full team dedicated to guiding people in search of a solution to their most pressing problems.
If you were not in parliament or in politics, what would you be doing in your professional life?
I would be working as a lawyer.
Tell us about your involvement with IPU.
It is a great experience. I have been able to work further on sensitive issues such as the environment, human rights and gender. As current president of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries in the United Nations (GRULAC), I am getting to know their problems and sharing the common concerns we need to address as neighbouring countries.
It is also important being able to interact with MPs from other continents, getting to know their ways of life and political systems. I have noticed that parliamentary language transcends all borders because we share challenges such as world peace, a more equal development model and the full incorporation of women to all spheres of life: political, economic, social, educational, etc.