Good Context on Chile’s Riots

Patricio Navia, on

The bad news is that people are upset, disappointed and angry. The good news is that Chile is in a good position to adopt inclusive reforms that promote social justice, defend markets (rather than business or special interests) and level the playing field.

​Great point. However this next paragraph hit me in the nuts:

When I took my first Latin American politics class thirty years ago, I learned that, having remained immune to the authoritarian wave that swept the region in the 1970s and 1980s, thirty years ago, Venezuela was the most developed and stable democracy in Latin America. But the country had three problems: high dependence on a single commodity (oil), high levels of inequality and an increasingly corrupt and unresponsive elitist political system. Other than that, Venezuela was the most successful Latin American democracy.

Today, as a professor, I teach my students that Chile is the most successful Latin American democracy, but the country has three problems: high dependence on copper, high levels of inequality and an increasingly unresponsive and corrupt political system.

​And this is a good reminder for the next Venezuela — I hope:

The Chilean elites would benefit from learning the lessons from the devastating experience of Venezuela since the early 1990s. Unless the benefits of economic growth — the promised land — are more justly distributed, the promised land will turn into hell for everyone.

​Every day I tell any tico that would listen to me that while they do have problems, all Latin American countries would give anything to exchange their problems to those of Costa Rica and Chile. I still stand by it, but this article reminds me you can’t fall into complacency.

Roberto Mateu @roberto