Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 0: Delayed in Seattle

I find myself at SEATAC with flight delays all the way to Miami. While I wait, I'll write! (Yea for Internet, yea for blogs, yea...)

The TMMBA program has a joint flickr site for photos from the trip. See the wonders of Chile and Argentina from the comfort of your couch/laptop combo:

The most interesting thing going on in Chile besides the earthquakes is the shift in power from left to right. Sebastian Pinera was just elected president of Chile. He replaces Michelle Bachelet, the first woman president of Chile and a center-left candidate. Much like the George W./Gore election, the Chilean center and center-left simply did not go to the polls to keep the left in power. Pinera also out-charmed the remaining voters over the left-leaning candidate with his comparative youthful vigor.

Unlike George W. however, Pinera is an accomplished businessman who also received his PhD in economics from Harvard. He's a free markets supporter and is thought of favorably by the likes of the Cato Institute and the Inter-American Dialogue. His claims to fame were bringing a credit card system to Chile and having a stake in LANChile, an international airlines.

Left leaning citizen of Chile worry about Pinera's loose ties to the Pinochet era. His brother was an advisor and some folks on his cabinet served under Pinochet. To this day, Pinochet's ghost and the thousands of Chileans who dissappeared or were murdered under his rule color the relationships between political left and right as well as social lower and upper class.

The class differential is also a huge factor in the recent earthquakes. Wealthy parts of Chile and large Chilean cities are almost unaffected by the earthquake. Whereas the poorer neighborhoods and cities were devastated. The differential between the lower and upper class is much more pronounced in Chile than in the United States, and should be considered when reading about their politics and economy.


1 comment:

  1. It's easy to criticize the Pinochet era for its human rights abuses, but some Chileans (of course the wealthier ones), feel like there were gains for Chile during that time, economically and in terms of its stability. The husband of Richard and my Spanish teacher in Chile was in the Navy under Pinochet. They are a split right/left household and are able to discuss the vagaries and complexities of Chile's political history openly. In fact, we found that most of the Chileans we talked to, right and left, were able and willing to intelligently discuss their complex political history. It was refreshing compared to discussions of politics in the US, which are always ideologically loaded and high-stakes, even among friends. For people coming from a liberal perspective, imagine a discussion about some good coming from the Bush era--unimaginable.