Letter from Chile

Chile is supposed to be the dream state of the radical rightwing economic types that shows how neoliberalism and radical free market capitalism is the best system ever. They point to Chile and cheer about what a supposed success story it is. But I have always felt that Chile blows under this new model. If Chile is a the rightwing free marketeers’ showcase, then what can I say? They can have it. It ain’t no showcase to me. A showcase for what? What the Hell kind of a model is that?

I really enjoyed this letter from a commenter which sums up all of my feelings about Chile and also adds some new problems that I was not aware of. I also liked her writing style!

Isabel writes:

I lived in the States many years before relocating to Santiago in the early 80’s. I’ve lived here 30 years, so I know what it’s like. There is good and bad as everywhere else, and you just have to come to terms. A taxi driver once told me, “La tierra es buena pero la raza es mala”. I love living near the Andes, but Chilean society is screwed up.

For instance, everybody lies because they can’t be authentic — it’s taboo to be authentic here. Chileans are artists at making nice but once they (esp. males) are behind the wheel of a car, they become total A-holes. The driver with a bigger vehicle who is going a lot faster than you are has right of way.

Abusive practices are the norm. If you show assertiveness, watch out – you will have hidden enemies who will be sharpening their knives then gloating over your downfall.

In my opinion Pinochet was Darth Vader all right. The dictatorship ushered in the reign of evil, the untrammeled power of money.

They trumpet about how Chile is less corrupt than any other Latin American country, but this is just because they hide it better, and  the recent scandals are starting to uncover the dirt.

Appearances are everything here: modernity, progress are a smokescreen — look behind or underneath and you’ll find the cowering underclasses and a middle class under siege.

The powerless fight back with ingenious scams and byzantine violent tactics against the wealthy when they are weakest, like attacking women returning from the mall in their Mercedeses and Porsches at their electric gates.

I do fault the elites here for their selfishness, and yes, their stupidity. They refuse to understand that by holding back the progress of the underclasses and refusing to change their 19th century habits and attitudes, they are destroying the future of a beautiful country that could be a genuine beacon… they’re too addicted to the Just-Us mentality of the ex-colonized and white immigrants who’ve turned into internal colonizers, moneyed groups inside their exclusivist enclaves.

The Mapuche Nation is continually at war with the political and economic elites because these have pillaged and landgrabbed the south far worse than the Spaniards ever did. It really is shameful, the lack of conscience and egoism of the supposedly breast-beating devout Catholic wealthy of this country and the hypocrisy and brazen greed of the corporate classes.

The youth are fighting for free quality education, for dignity and respect — they had it under Allende. It’s shocking to see how the militarized police shoot teargas at schoolchildren and their parents, how they beat peacefully marching high school kids with their truncheons, and how the media blame the students for the violence when witnesses see the police themselves go out disguised as rioters.

Pinochet and the oligarchy have not ceased to hate Allende. They got their way, but they’ve been a total failure notwithstanding all the gleaming high-rises (and no thought for the resulting worsened traffic congestion and no provision of sidewalks where pedestrians can walk safely) and the faux macroeconomic growth and lowered poverty rates (while executives earn 500 times more than ordinary workers).

Foreigners agree that Santiago is a hostile city, nothing is done about air pollution, there are growing numbers of homeless, prices vary 50% or 100% depending on whether you live in a poor, unsafe municipality or in a tony one, builders destroy residential neighborhoods with malls and substandard high-rise apartment buildings that fewer and fewer can afford to rent in. Ritzy clinics provide lousy medical care when you do have an emergency.

Many dream of leaving Santiago, but most jobs are here, and services in other regions are under-financed or nonexistent.

I’m not even going to discuss the sorry state of women’s rights and the violence against women.

Something’s gotta give. We need a sea change in mentality. We need to put paid to savage capitalism, i.e., neoliberalism. The foundations of Chilean society laid down by elites with a social conscience and the ethos of service between the 1920’s and the 1960’s have been well-nigh demolished. The military coup was the start of the darkest period ever seen in this country, and we have yet to see how the light will return.

8 Comments

Filed under Americas, Amerindians, Capitalism, Catholicism, Chile, Chileans, Conservatism, Corruption, Economics, Education, Latin America, Law enforcement, Neoliberalism, Police Brutality, Political Science, Politics, Pollution, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Religion, Social Problems, Sociology, South America, Urban Decay, Urban Studies, Whites, Women

8 responses to “Letter from Chile

  1. Ed

    So people in Chile behave pretty much the same as people in the United States.

  2. Jason Y

    Probably white nationalists, as always, will put the blame on race, claiming much of the population is part Amerindian.

  3. Tulio

    I don’t know man, the left really has not been successful in creating economic growth anywhere in Latin America. So I can’t blame them for going right down there. Blame that on the incompetence of the Latin American left.

    • Jason Y

      Maybe the left cannot create growth because US companies etc.. hate the Latin American left. It opposes thier business interests, so they persecute them.

      • The economic growth rates of the New Left governments in Latin America have been excellent as I recall. I do not know where people are getting this bull about the Left failed at creating economic growth. It’s crap.

  4. d3o

    There was a moment where you took the time to generalize the attitude of the Chilean, but remember that you, santiago isn’t chile, people of region is much more friendly in that sense, and I know, because I’m from region.

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